How To Reduce Your Food Waste with Original Recipe
Recent statistics show that total food waste has reduced by 14% per person between 2007 and 2015, but some might say that there is still a way to go… To highlight the importance of the issue, the government recently appointed a Food Surplus and Waste Champion, Ben Elliot, whose mission is to help promote awareness around the issue of food waste in the UK, and as part of the Waste Strategy, annual reporting of waste will be produced going forward to increase transparency on the topic.
Whether cooking at home or eating out, people tend to waste a lot of food. Throwing out food responsibly is important, because when food rots, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is dangerous to the environment. Dispose of food recycling and composting organic materials, and giving away what you can to charity, and putting other food in the trash. You should also try to take what steps you can to minimize your food waste.
Compost at home
Composting foods that can be organically disposed of at home is a great way to reduce the amount of food you throw in the trash. It’s good for the environment, and can give you some useful compost for the garden. Homemade compost will fertilize your soil and help with any gardening you do.
- Use food scraps such as fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, nutshells and tea bags.
- Do not dispose of meat, dairy or oils this way.
- Add the food waste to cardboard, newspaper, vegetation and other organic materials in your compost pile. Mix it in with soil and dirt so the food can be broken down.
- When you add new material to the pile, turn it with a garden fork or other tool to let fresh oxygen in to help with the composting process.
- If you don’t have a yard, you can still compost at home with an earthworm farm.
Visit your local recycling centre
If you don’t have the space, or are uncertain about composting at home, you can still deal with your food waste responsibly by visiting your local recycling centre. Lots of recycling centres will have facilities to deal with food waste and composting. Generally you will be able to bring your food waste and either leave it with someone there, or dump it into the appropriate container.
- Be sure you check the specific guidelines for your centre before you go.
- You may need to separate your food waste in a particular way before you take in it.
- Make sure you know what food waste they accept and what they don’t.
- For example, they will not take meat, but they will take organic waste, such as fruit and vegetables.
- Your local government will be able to provide details on recycling facilities near you.
Determine what food goods are suitable to donate
If you have food clogging up your cupboards that you are not going to eat, there is an alternative to just tossing it in the trash. Donating food to local charities, such as food banks and soup kitchens, is a great way to make sure nothing goes to waste. If you decide to do this, the first thing to do is determine what kind of food is suitable for you to donate.
- Generally non-perishable food, such as tinned vegetables, soups, fish and meat are all appropriate.
- Low-sugar cereal, tubs of peanut butter, raisins, and juice boxes are also very welcome.
- Avoid donating food in glass jars or containers. These may not be accepted because of the risk of them breaking.
- Remember you can also ask friends and family to see if they want anything too.
Contact local charities
Once you have an idea of what foods you have that may be suitable to donate, you need to look up some local charities. Search for food banks and food drives in your area, and call up to ask how to donate. You can search for your local food banks by using the online search tool of national hunger charities.
- There are special apps that help businesses to donate unwanted food.
- As an individual, it is best to work with an established charity, either local or national.
Deliver it to the food centre
Carefully pack up your food and then take your packages to your local food bank to deliver them to the staff and volunteers there. They will be happy to see you and accept your donation providing everything is packed well and you have not added in anything that is not an appropriate donation. While you’re at the food drive you could find out a little more about the work they do. Often they will be looking for new volunteers to help organise and distribute the donations.
- If you have some spare time, why not get involved with the charity and volunteer with them.
- There are normally a range of volunteering opportunities available.
Separate spoiled foods
You should act fast to deal with any food that is spoiled or that will go bad quickly. Such foods should be separated from the rest of your trash, kept in heavy duty plastic bags and disposed of quickly. If practical, put meats and other foods that rot quickly into the trash on the day it will be collected. Rotting food will attract pests and insects.
- Tie meats and any raw foods you are disposing of into plastic bags before you put them into your trash bag. This will minimize leaks and odours.
- Ensure your trash can is fully secured and there is no odour that could attract pests.
- Dispose of your meat quickly to avoid any potential problems with maggots.
Incinerate items with low water content, such as chicken skin
High-water content items may explode.
- Use an indoor fireplace or outdoor grill/fire pit for this.
- A wood stove can also be used, but add the food to incinerate to the fuel area, not the cooking area.
- Do NOT use a gas stove, as this will generate too much smoke indoors.
- Try to do this when you would normally build a fire anyway, to avoid using extra fuel. For example, after a picnic, the scraps can be burned on the same coals that were used to cook the food of course remembering to douse everything in water before leaving the camping area.
- Some ashes will remain, so dispose of those as you normally do, once they cool.
Collect oils and fats in a container
Dispose of cooking oils and fats by collecting them in a jar, tub, or other container that you don’t mind throwing away. Do not pour hot oil or fat from cooking meats down your sink drain. This will cause plumbing problems that may be expensive. You should always dispose of oil and grease in the trash, not down the drain.
- Throw the jar of fat into the trash when it gets full. Do not recycle the jar.
- You can also use leftover fat to make fat balls for your garden bird feeder.
- Mix the fat with some dry kitchen scraps, such as porridge oats, and leave it to set in the fridge overnight.
- Once it’s hard you can hang it from a tree or place it in a birdfeeder.
Use your garbage disposal
If you have a garbage disposal attached to your sink, use it to dispose of food when you are cleaning up after a meal. Scrape food waste into your drain and turn on the disposal while running cold water. Listen for the grinding up of your food waste. Turn off the disposal and the water when you hear the blades return to their normal, empty position.
- Remember not to put anything in your disposal that is not biodegradable.
- Don’t put anything like glass, metal, plastic or paper in there.
- Don’t pour grease or oil in your garbage disposal.
- Don’t put expandable food, like rice or pasta, in there.
Bananas on the turn – submitted by Bridget Lawless:
“Peel the bananas when good and freeze in chunks to process into 1 ingredient ice-cream, or peel and freeze whole and eat like a lolly. Overripe bananas are great for smoothies, sliced into custard or mashed into muesli… Brown is fine to eat!”.
Chickpea and vegetable broth in spicy turmeric and tomato sauce, submitted by Tim Bouget:
“One of my favourite hearty “vegan” recipes that we use at cafe ODE. At home, it can be made simple and most importantly adapted to use almost any spice or vegetables you might have left over. Are you always left with some tinned baked beans or tomatoes? If so, this recipe is for you! Tinned chickpeas can also be used and of course the juice can create a delicious egg free mayonnaise just spice it up with a little turmeric or curry powder”
Utilising off-cuts from vegetables – submitted by Bridget Lawless:
“Vegetable off-cuts such as the stem-end of carrots, stalks of kale, cabbage, cauliflower, onion ends, and general trimmings can be used to make great stock! Get all your off-cuts together go easy on the parsnips though, as their flavour tend to take over and simmer in 2 litres of water until reduced by a third. Strain and store in a bottle or old milk container for a few days or freeze for later use”.