How can we stop wasting food?

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt guilty about wasting food. I think it goes back to my childhood, when I was made aware that not everyone was lucky enough to have a full fridge, a packed larder and a hot meal on the table every night. I was encouraged to consider others and how they might not be so privileged.

What this does is make me more aware of how I manage food. I understand that may seem like an odd turn of phrase, but it’s an accurate one. I need to manage how much food I buy to avoid wasting it. It’s taken me a while but I think I’ve got it down to a fine art. And with that, here are my tips to avoid wasting food.

Plan ahead

I start by making a rough plan of what I’m going to cook, which covers more or less a fortnight. Then I do a grocery shop. I have a busy full-time job so I order my shopping online and get it delivered. This is a God send on the time saving front. Also, I find shopping online means that I stick to my grocery list. There are no tempting supermarket displays online to throw me off course.

Your freezer is your friend

It may seem odd buying enough food for a fortnight, but if you make good use of your freezer, you can easily do this. I stack my freezer with meats, fruit and veg mixes and bread and take it out as I need it. I also use it to store leftover food, especially if I have purposefully made a batch of soup or something freezer friendly like chilli con carne.

Do a weekly meal planner

Now that you’ve done your shop and got lots of food in the freezer, it’s time to make a more detailed plan. Every Sunday, I write a meal planner to cover the week. I tend to make something on a Sunday that I can either use in other meals during the week or that I can freeze. I often do a roast chicken. After Sunday dinner, strip what’s left of the chicken and the uses for the meat are almost endless. One of my favourites is chicken fried rice. Simply boil some rice and stir fry with a little sesame oil, any vegetables you have to hand, the leftover chicken and a glug of soy sauce et voila, a delicious home made meal, which is very cost effective.

Soup, soup and more soup

With the best will in the world, there may be times when you’ve got leftover food that you’re not sure what to do with, or is beginning to look past its best. This is often the case when it comes to vegetables. Rather than toss them out, why not try putting them in a soup? There really are no rules when it comes to soup – I’ve thrown all sorts of combinations together and it always results in a tasty, nutritious soup. One of my favourites is sweet potato and carrot. Start with a base of two onions and two sticks of celery, add your left over potatoes and carrots, vegetable stock, garlic and tomato puree. Blitz before serving until you have a smooth consistency. Not only is this tasty but it also freezes really well, meaning you’ve got soup handy to enjoy another time.

Those are the main principles I follow to avoid wasting what I have in the fridge. What’s your tips for getting the most out of your food?

 

Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.