Research by the government-run organisation WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) estimates that 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away in the UK every year and figures indicate that 70% of this waste is household waste which amounts to billions of unnecessary costs! Food production is also responsible for a considerable volume of carbon emissions. Therefore, food waste is costing us money and the future of our planet. Here are some simple solutions and recipes to help you reduce your household food waste.
Let’s start with the kitchen essentials: milk, bread and eggs. The best way to use up milk that’s in danger of going off is to eat cereal. Bread and eggs can be used up with French toast, or a much-loved classic, bread and butter pudding. You could also dehydrate bread in the oven and crush it in a bag to create breadcrumbs, which will last much longer than fresh bread. Bread can also be kept in the freezer. The best way to do this with sliced bread is to wrap each slice in cling film, that way you won’t have to defrost the whole loaf when you need it. Buying food and eating for one can lead to increased waste; another idea might be to share a loaf of bread with housemates.
The next section covers vegetables. I often find my housemates buying lettuce and getting bored after a few salads. The lettuce gets left until it browns and is then thrown away. In fact, over 40% of salads purchased are thrown away. My solution to this is to stir-fry it. Lettuce makes a great addition to fried rice or any vegetable stir fry, as a lighter alternative to cabbage. Lettuce can also be finely chopped and added to quesadillas.
Fresh vegetables in general can be hard to keep in nice condition for a long time. Because of this, I tend to buy frozen vegetables. Spinach, cabbage, and brussel sprouts are especially useful in frozen form; they’re better value for money, and you don’t need to wash and prepare them which saves time. However, there are some vegetables – such as broccoli and onions – which admittedly taste better fresh. Once you get bored of stir-fries what do you do?
Here’s one recipe that lets you enjoy vegetables on the turn in a novel way:
Green vegetable and tofu salad
- Wrap the tofu in paper towels and sandwich between two cutting boards with something heavy on top to press it down. This is to squeeze the moisture out.
- Chop the broccoli and asparagus (or any other green vegetable of you choice) into bite-sized pieces.
- Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Boil your green vegetables until cooked to your liking.
- Boil the onion until tender.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix one tablespoon of olive oil with salt, black pepper, and a few teaspoons of Parmesan cheese.
- One the tofu feels firmer, pat it down with the paper towels.
- Place the tofu into the bowl and mash with a fork, mixing into the seasoning as you go.
- Add the vegetables, mix, and serve!
This salad is a great new way to enjoy tofu and get a healthy source of protein into your meals. For vegetarians and vegans, you could remove the Parmesan cheese and swap half of the olive oil with sesame oil for extra flavour.
Smoothies are another fantastic way to consume fruits and vegetables on the brink of going over. The benefit of the blender is that you can use those unappealing bruised foods that you might otherwise throw away. Overall, smoothies are a nice concentrated source of vitamins and fibre, which also help you to reduce food waste.
Here is my go-to smoothie recipe:
- Finely dice carrot, celery and apple. It should total about a handful.
- Add to a blender with a handful of spinach and one small banana.
- Add 50 ml of soy-milk (or any milk you prefer) and 50 ml of water.
- Add a teaspoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon to taste.
- Blend until smooth and enjoy!
You could add any of your favourite fruits to this basic smoothie recipe. However, be careful with frozen fruit as it could damage your blender blades. (Take this from my grandma – her blender shattered and exploded because she used frozen banana … oops.)
If you’ve depleted these tips and still have food at risk of going off, why not try a food-recycling app? OLIO (which has a concept similar to Gumtree but for conscious consumers), Too Good to Go, and Karma, seem to be the three main apps on the market. They work by connecting you with other users who are looking for free food, thus saving you and the environment unnecessary food waste.
Happy eco-friendly eating.
– Amy Milner
Featured Image: Pexels