Can you really afford to throw away £60 a month? Probably not, but according to the latest Government report on food waste, this is something that most of us are doing. That £60 is the equivalent of 24 meals – and as well as the cost to you there’s the associated costs from collection, landfill and the effect on the environment.
The annual report by WRAP the government’s advisory body provides estimates of the amount of food and drink wasted in the UK. Almost half of what we waste is going straight from fridges or cupboards into the bin. One-fifth of what households buy ends up as waste, and around 60% of that could have been eaten. Bread, potatoes and milk were the top three food types thrown away within the avoidable food waste category (by weight). If you look at it by food groups fresh vegetables and salads are at the top (contributing to 19% of avoidable food waste). And if you were to look at it by cost, meat and fish tops the list followed by home-made and pre-prepared meals.
On a recent edition of You & Yours, top chef Aldo Zilli suggested running the kitchen like a business – pointing out that useable food that is binned represents profit thrown away to a restaurant. In the war against waste, clever planning, batch cooking and making friends with your fridge and freezer can cut the costs.
Here’s our top tips to slim your bin
· Freezer space reduces waste. If you’ve bought ready meals you know you won’t eat by the sell by date, put them in the freezer for future use. A big freezer with easy to organise drawers – such as a freestanding full height freezer which can be used alone or paired with a freestanding full height fridge –is a real friend.
· If you don’t want to cook chicken, mince or any other fresh meat or fish offer straight away, divide it into portions, bag up and freeze. You’ll find some great ideas and recipes for batch cooking at www.bbcgoodfood.com – just search under batch cooking.
· Bread and potatoes top the waste charts, Cut unsliced bread into chunky cubes and freeze for croutons. Turn sliced bread into crumbs – if you have cheese that is past its best or herbs, throw into the processor with the bread to make a savoury topping for all kinds of dishes. Par boil potatoes and freeze, ready for roasties, mash for Shepherd’s Pie topping or for fishcakes. Odds and ends of cheese can be grated into the mash. Buy one get one free milk is a popular offer – milk freezes well so put one in the fridge and one in the freezer. The same applies to sliced bread and packs of rolls, crumpets or muffins.
· Turn uncooked vegetables and even bagged salads into soup or stock and freeze.
· Keep track of what is in the fridge – especially if you internet shop.
· Chicken carcasses make great stock as a base for soups or casseroles. If you are short on time, take a tip from top US cook Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) and wrap the carcass in clingfilm to freeze for future use.