6 easy ways to reduce your food waste & save money
It’s estimated Irish households throw away on average one third of food they buy every week – ie. it never reaches the table or the portions are far too big, or both.
Food waste costs households in Ireland between €400 and €1,000 each year – that’s roughly €700-worth of food per household – the price of a holiday or your car insurance.
The government and local authorities are making a concerted effort promote food waste reduction and sustainable eating initiatives, with a series of forthcoming programmes filled with practical tips and advice aimed at reducing the amount of food we throw away.
But in the meantime, we’ve got some useful tips for ways to reduce your food waste, and therefore save money, time, effort and the environment.
1. Plan your shopping list from the kitchen
You need to check what items you have as you write your shopping list. This will help avoid buying food you don’t need. We’ve all been there, repeatedly buying multiple items each week due to a lack of memory/fear that you don’t have them and will therefore ruin dinner.
It only takes a matter of minutes to scan over what you’ve got in the kitchen and it is well worth the trouble. It will reduce the amount of food thrown out and save you money in the process.
2. Audit existing supplies before you plan your meals
A good starting point for planning your shopping is a meal plan for the week. And in turn, the best way to plan weekly meals, is to take a look at the things that have been forgotten in your fridge and press.
Are you the proud owner of a ‘Tower of Tinned Tuna’? If so, a tomato-based tuna risotto will do the trick. Have you accumulated a cheese mountain? Grate them up for a sauce and stick mac and cheese on the menu.
3. Plan using dinner leftovers for lunches
Think about lunches in the context of dinners. Leftover Spaghetti Bolognaise? Why not add kidney beans, chilli powder, some paprika and rice, and you’ve got a nice chilli on your plate.
And of course the best dinner to lunch conversion is anything roasted – chicken, lamb, beef – in sandwiches
4. Freeze leftovers in single portions
It is well worth investing in small sized containers. There is nothing worse than freezing a great big serving of Bolognese sauce, only to discover you’ve had to bin it half of it a day later because you couldn’t eat it all. Freeze smaller, single meal portions so you can control how much you want to use, saving time, money and the environment.
5. Rework leftovers into totally new meals
Much like leftovers for lunch, here is where you can really get creative. Pulled-pork served with rice one night can be served over a baked potato the next. A Mexican chicken dish can be served as a stew, and then reappear as burrito.
6. Don’t plan for complicated meals mid-week
Mid-week meals should be as hassle free as possible. No matter what you envisage on a Sunday afternoon, come Wednesday, you are likely to be hitting the mid-week hump. Just keep it simple, easy and fuss-free. Save the complexity for the weekend or your next dinner party.