In association with Love Food Hate Waste
Five slices of bread gone mouldy. One green pepper all wrinkly and soft. Three eggs past their use by date. A slice of ham lost at the back of the fridge. Half a bag of thyme leaves, left over from a recipe and forgotten about. Plus the obligatory couple of carrots all wrinkly, bendy and soft.
That’s just some of the food that has been wasted in our house in the last couple of weeks.
Not to mention the various meals my children didn’t finish and which were scraped off their plates straight into the food recycling bin. And the chicken my husband was supposed to put in the freezer in the garage, but accidentally left on the work surface for two days instead.
Writing it all down in black and white is mortifying!
I like to think I am food waste aware. I have done the whole weekly meal planning thing for years. I batch cook and freeze in individual or family portions. I measure out portions of pasta, rice, peas and so on before cooking. I eat random ensembles of left overs for lunch all the time. I freeze food I don’t think we’ll eat in time. I buy loose vegetables and fruit, according to our need, rather than big pre-packed bags that might not get eaten in time. I keep the skins on carrots when making soup, and on potatoes when making mash.
I do all of that… and still I find the food waste bin fuller than I’d like.
I’m all too familiar with the statistics on food waste. In the UK in 2015 alone, £13 billion of edible food was thrown away from our homes. That’s a total of 7.3 million tonnes of food (400,000 tonnes of that in Wales alone), which if prevented, would have the same environmental benefit of taking one in four cars off the road. I know that cutting back on food waste could save households up to £15 a week – a whopping £60 a month – or £700 a year!
I know all of this, I really do… yet still I find myself binning food that should not really be binned.
This is what £15 worth of food – the amount wasted by the average household every week – looks like.
You wouldn’t willingly chuck all of that in the bin, but those few tomatoes and a soggy cucumber here, half a loaf of stale bread and unfinished meals scraped into the food recycling bin there, all add up.
It’s something I am increasingly conscious of, both from an environmental and ethical standpoint, and a financial one too.
I know it’s a cliché to say it, but there are people in the world – indeed, in this country – who are starving and would find the idea of people throwing food away so much food obscene.
So I was only too happy to take up Love Food Hate Waste’s Give Up Binning Food Instead Lent challenge. Instead of the typical giving up chocolate or alcohol in the run-up to Easter, the organisation is asking people to do something more beneficial and drastically reduce the amount of food that is wasted.
Our challenge officially runs for 40 days, from Wednesday 1st March until Thursday 13th April. Each week will take a different theme, as follows:
Week 1 Meal planning – when’s this for?
Week 2 Storage – where should I put this?
Week 3 Fridge focus – how do I make the most of my fridge?
Week 4 Portioning – how much should I use?
Week 5 Food labels – what do they mean?
Weeks 6/7 Leftovers – what can I do with my ingredients?
But, I’m not waiting until Lent to get started. Being involved in this campaign has really made me consider the food we are wasting – so we’re trying to reduce our waste already.
As a family, we’ve spoken about the impact of food waste and have identified areas where we could improve.
We’ll be reporting on how we get on over the next six weeks. We’ll be sharing some of our favourite recipes and simple hacks for using up food nearing the end of its shelf life, how to safely and hygienically store left over food, and more.
Can we achieve zero food waste? We’re certainly going to do our best!
I’d love it if you could join in with the 40-day challenge and share your own tips on reducing food waste.
You can sign up on the Love Food Hate Waste website here. You’ll receive regular emails where you can get advice and support throughout the campaign, including 40 tips and suggestions to help your challenge. There’s loads more information on the website to get you started too.
As you’ll know if you read Cardiff Mummy Says regularly, world events have left me feeling so overwhelmed and helpless recently. I’m focusing on the small positive changes I can make that will make a difference – and this really is something simple that will make a massive difference. In the words of Love Food Hate Waste, let’s change the world one meal at a time.