cooking · plastic free july

Food waste is still waste

Along with reducing our household waste this year, I’ve been focusing on food waste. This is a definite self improvement practice because I am terrible for leaving something a day (or three) longer than I should and then I just don’t fancy it so ignore it, push it to the back of the fridge and wait for my partner to throw it out a fortnight later. Then I sit under a cloud of guilt and swear to never do it again. 

Change needs to happen.

This is what I’ve tried to implement to cut down our food waste:

Meal planning

I always had a kind of plan in my head for what we’d eat for dinner day by day but often it would get forgotten, tweaked or I’d see something I fancied more and buy that instead. This meant that leftovers and fresh ingredients got sidelined and inevitably ignored. 

Meal planning sounds so easy, just sit down and plan. But I didn’t find it easy at all, I could never find time to go through the fridge/freezer, I was stuck with the same 3 or 4 meal choices and things were getting pretty samey. But little by little, and with practice,  I managed to start piecing together my weekly plan.

Write it down

I now have a visual aid to help with my meal plan, it’s nothing fancy, just a photo frame with a weekly layout inside. I can write on the glass with a dry erase marker and wipe it clean every week. I’m hoping it helps me stick to the plan and it means that everyone can see what’s for dinner/what ingredients we have. I also added a section to log what needs to be used up, this week it’s hummus. It doesn’t feature in the meals this week so I wrote it here to remind me to use it in lunches/snacks.

Shop once per week, with a list!

Buying things loose and weekly has really helped, veg never goes bad in our fridge anymore as I buy exactly what I need for that week. It helps that it’s all so appetising, fresh and packaging free in the fridge. That said, I’m still prone to mixing up my meal plan if I see a fancy veg we’ve not eaten before. And I do call into the shops more than once per week for some things but like to do a main shop on a Monday to set us up right.

Manage my fridge

I started logging my fridge contents on the door in dry erase marker out of sheer frustration at myself, I was buying stuff and forgetting it was there or buying duplicate items which I didn’t  remember we had, I went a whole week forgetting to put mushrooms in my meals and they went squishy and gross. So I logged it all, down to the last half onion. It’s not something I’ve kept up but it did jump start my meal planning. 
Making this log gave me the push to have a “buy nothing” week. We used up everything that was in there, we had a funky “what’s this veg?” lentil curry with rice, we ate the leftovers with flat breads made out of not so fresh yogurt. I raided the freezer for forgotten chops and falafel. It was great!

So I’m trying my hardest, I have seen a reduction in food waste but I also know that hummus is waiting just on the edge of it all.

I’d love to hear how everyone else manages food waste. 


4 thoughts on “Food waste is still waste

  1. I’ve found the best way for our family to reduce food waste is to shop local every few days, I can manage to plan a few days ahead and just get what I need from local shops and markets. Then I do a big shop once a month for dry goods and cleaning stuff. It’s working well so far, less waste and less money spent! We just started home composting too 😃


  2. I am also guilty of this! I think I need to be more flexible with what I eat and to just adapt to whatever is left in the fridge, rather than planning other meals and forgetting about leftover ingredients.


  3. We meal plan, shop once a week and eat leftovers for lunch and sometimes dinner as well depending on what was on the menu. I find it hard to eat the produce quick enough before it goes bad though.


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