5 April 2018

20+ Easy Family Friendly Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that in the UK we throw away over 7 million tonnes of food every year? That’s nearly 20% of what we actually buy going into our bins. Some of this food will have sadly gone off, but what’s worse is that according to research by WRAP,  more than half (4.4 million tonnes) of this food that ends up in our waste collection, could still have been eaten, which equates to around 13 billion ‘5 a day’ portions.

Food waste can be minimised, and in this post, I’m highlighting some of the ways that I’m trying to cut down on my food waste and I’m sharing some other peoples really great family-friendly ideas too. We haven't eliminated food waste in our house, but we are trying our best. Read on to see how to reduce food waste - helping to save you money and saving the planet.


20+ Easy Family Friendly Ways to Reduce Food Waste


20+ Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste


Food waste is something I’ve been aware of for a long time. My background is in PR. It's an industry that I love but one that is often image-led and visually creative - a photo can say a thousand words!. And over the years I’ve worked with quite a few hospitality, leisure, tourism and food clients, and with some of this work involved making food look appetising in photography and on video – which sadly did and still does lead to a lot of food waste. 

Before the days when virtually anyone could Photoshop an image, food photography always used to involve hairspray and many other magic ingredients to make food look good. But what this meant is that it wasn’t edible and then thrown away. Digital technology has made it easier to avoid waste but there is still so much food wasted whether it's created for media, advertising, blogs, or for use on the brands own website.

Recipes on my blog

When I started my blog I knew I wanted to focus partly on food, not just eating out but also sharing simple, easy to make recipes that we eat at home. I’m very clear in my blog values that all the photography I use in my recipe posts is of food we have actually eaten, the food hasn’t gone to waste. 

The recipes that are on my blog have all been made by me and eaten by me and my family - the food is never wasted. I take the photographs as I cook rather than set up a separate photo shoot. What I'm aiming to do is show that in an everyday kitchen, using everyday utensils and appliances, and ingredients you can buy from any local supermarket or shop that you can create tempting, tasty, healthy and quick meals for all the family. 

This has always been my ethos and I'm pleased to say is shared by other food bloggers too! Check out who has made the pledge for No Waste Within. This is a campaign started by the food-blogging community to cut down on the amount of, and ultimately eliminate, food waste created by the development, cooking, styling and photographing of recipes.


20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste


Minimising Food Waste

The best thing for the environment and our wallets is obviously only to buy what is necessary, simply
  • writing a shopping list, 
  • meal planning, 
  • not getting taken in multi-pack offers, 
  • and making the best use of your fridge and freezer (if you have one) 
can all help with this, but sometimes the food waste is the by-product of the cooking process. If you do find yourself with food that will go to waste here are 10 things that I’ve started doing that you may find easily achievable too.

10 Easy Ways to Minimise Food Waste

  1. Re-using the waste oatmeal from making oat milk in cookies - really easy to use as part of the required oats in the recipe
  2. Using the waste cashew nuts after making dairy-free cheese in flapjacks - just adds extra texture and taste
  3. Using coffee grounds as a body scrub – yes it's brilliant - mix with sugar and a little coconut oil and it's better than expensive hand an body creams. Smells great too.
  4. Turning stale bread into breadcrumbs then freezing – so handy to have them ready for use when needed.
  5. Freezing leftover gravy and sauces in an ice cube tray – just pop one or two in a casserole or stir-fry for a very easy meal
  6. Slice a lemon or lime and freeze then use as you need as a flavoured ice cube in your favourite drink – yes it does work great in gin or simply with hot water as the first drink of the day.
  7. Freeze loaves of bread and make toast with it – no need to defrost that way either.
  8. When baking I freeze the offcuts of pastry then when there is enough bake something new with it.
  9. Make soup with leftover vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower stalks. I simply chop and freeze then use when there is enough for a bowl of soup.
  10. Blanche and freeze the produce from our small kitchen garden or that we have left over from our regular shop so that we have chopped onions, green beans, cabbage and soft fruits etc. ready to use throughout the year.
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Preventing Food Waste

Shockingly half of the food we throw away can be eaten, but keeping it out of the bin is good for our pockets and the planet combined. WRAP has lots of solutions for preventing household food waste,  and on the Love Food Hate Waste website, there are lots of ideas and recipes for re-using leftover food

I’ve asked over 20 other parents for their food saving tips and about how they re-used food that would otherwise go to waste in their households, and this is what they do. Some great ideas here that I’m going to try to do now too!

Chop and Freeze


  • Leanne says there are always far too many herbs in bags from supermarkets. She chops her herbs up and pops them in an ice cube tray with olive oil. “They are perfect for adding to cooking and saves throwing the waste out.” 

Make Smoothies


  • Katie freezes any fruit or veg if it hasn't been eaten just before it is about to go off then turns it in smoothies. 
  • Kayley Anne uses leftover fruit for homemade smoothies or pops it in ice lolly moulds with some water to make super healthy ice lollies 
  • Similarly, Victoria purees or blends over-ripe fruit to add to cereal and yoghurts. It can also be frozen to use later. She says “My toddler loves it too.” 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Use to feed animals


  • Victoria has chickens who eat most of their scraps! What’s not eaten goes in their compost.
  • Lauretta has rabbits so carrot peel, parsnip peel, apples (no seeds) all get fed to them as treats. “They love it!” she says. 
  • Emma has chickens & rabbits that eat lots of her food waste including the bruised bananas and apples that her children won't eat. But also cauliflower leaves that would usually be thrown away and pepper and melon seeds too. 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Make Soup


  • Kate saves the bones left from chicken or other meats in a bag in the freezer and when she has a good amount pops them all in a giant pot and make a huge batch of stock (then she re-freezes it all portioned out to use as and when). 
  • Katy freezes her vegetable scraps in a bag and then uses them to make vegetable stock! 
  • Kayley Anne makes soup from and leftover bits of veg. She also makes stock from any roast chickens we cook and keep it on ice cube trays in the freezer to add to soup or casseroles. 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Make breadcrumbs


  • Jaymee uses the crusts of bread for breadcrumbs and freezes them. 
  • Emma’s kids hate crusts so she cut them off, freeze them and make breadcrumbs when I have a big batch or I leave them in crusts and make mini bread and butter crust puddings. 
  • Rachel blitz’s stale bread in her food processor to make breadcrumbs. “I’ve got loads in the freezer! “ she says. 
  • Nicola makes croutons and bread and butter pudding from dry bread. But she is also bulk buying and meal planning too. 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Don’t forget drinks


  • Ayse says “If you make a pot of coffee and have some leftover, freeze it to use in ice coffee so you don't water it down! 
  • Cat says on the rare occasion that she have any wine left over in the bottle, she'll tip the contents into a freezer bag and freeze it until I make a recipe that requires wine.

Re-Purpose Food Waste 


  • Nyomi hates food waste so tries to find something to make with leftover scraps such as a sandwich, a pasta, or an omelette. But if you don’t want to eat them there and then most things can be frozen. She says “I love making frozen sandwiches which come in super handy for work when I’m my most busy and have forgotten to prep”. 
  • Kati uses leftover vegetables in bakes. Depending on what you have, she says “chuck into an ovenproof dish with leftover fried mince or ham, potatoes or pasta, bake for 15min, then add a mixture of seasoned sour cream and eggs, cover with cheese and bake for 35min. My family love it.”. 
  • Lisa finely chops up the broccoli stalk and add it to mince dishes such as spaghetti bolognese or shepherds pie. And also uses tinned chickpea water (aquafaba) in baking – to make mousses, meringues etc. 
  • Lisa says she’s only recently been trying to reduce food waste, and one approach she has tried is to buy food that can be used in multiple ways. So blueberries, for example, can be eaten on their own, on cereal, or cooked in a muffin if they get a bit old. Roast chicken can be used the next day with rice or pasta or in a burrito. And Greek yoghurt is great sweet (with fruit and honey) or savoury (on potato or in a salad). 

20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Cleanse the home


  • As well as chopping and freezing vegetables Hannah is saving citrus peel at the moment to make a homemade citrus-scented surface spray too. 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Regrow food


  • Rachael saves vegetable peel and scraps in a big bag in her freezer and once it’s full, makes stock with it. But she also tries to regrow food. Spring onions, for example, she says “If you leave about 2cm on the bottom (where the roots are) you can pop them in a shot glass with some water and a few days later, you’ll have a whole new set of spring onions. Just make sure to change the water daily. 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Potato Skins anyone?


  • Nikki microwaves potato peelings and then eats them with ketchup. She says "Is that grim? Just think of the fibre!" 
  • Katherine says if she needs to peel potatoes for a recipe, then she saves the washed skins and roasts them for a snack. She says, "I've also saved peelings from washed carrots and chopped them up for a carrot cake." 
20 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste

Or just don’t have any leftovers


  • Frances says she just eats everything. “Kid's leftovers, things three days out of date, broccoli stalks ... And if I can't, the dog does. Nothing gets chucked in this house!” 

I’m sure there are many other ways in which I can cut down on food waste. Please do leave any tips in the comments!

Deb x

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20+ Easy Family Friendly Ways to Reduce Food Waste

11 comments:

  1. Wow! There are some fab tips here. I blitz stale bread in the food proicessor to make breadcrumbs too....

    Another one the kids love is making rice crispy cakes with the rice crispies that are a little stale. You don't really notice the chewyness.

    Beth

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  2. Smoothies is a great one for waste reduction. I am always blasting things in my smoothie maker and making fab concoctions x

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  3. My blog also features food I have actually eaten - usually cold, to be honest, but it's still eaten, lol! Great tips, these!

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  4. They're all great tips. Before we moved we had a large freezer and I'd chop all my veg up when I bought it and I'd freeze portions to pull out for casseroles, Bolognaise, shepherd's pies etc. No veg went to waste that way!

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  5. Great tips. I always freeze my bread straight away then just take out what I need as I need it. I also have an extra chest freezer so I can make sure food never goes out of date.

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  6. Loving your tips here! We have been going through a big food waste problem the past few months due to our health being off and not being able to eat what we have but I'm definitely taking these tips on board from here on out.

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  7. what great ideas, freezing the herbs in olive oil to use later, genius!! I make a lot of smoothies also, that helps use up any left over fruit or veg too. and soups, oh there is endless possibilities! great post!

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  8. There are some great tips here! I must admit we are prone to wasting food especially with a fussy toddler x

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  9. So many great ideas! I always hope that the food waste isn't as bad as they say, as in actual food being wasted, and rather everyone using more fruit and veg and so more peelings, stones, cores, etc! Hopefully it's a sign of a healthier nation and not a wasteful nation :)

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  10. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been doing a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that
    I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this....
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this subject here
    on your web site.

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  11. These are all great tips! I definitely use vegetable leftovers for soups, but I see there is so much more I could do! Thank you for such a useful post XOXO

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