It seems that outlooks are slowly changing, including consumer attitudes; perhaps we should all take a leaf from Japanese Philosophy and appreciate the beauty in imperfection in more objects (AKA Wabi-sabi). That said, as consumers, we still need to be responsible for the produce that we purchase (wonky or not) when we get home! Best before or sell by date (not use by date) followers are responsible for a huge amount of household food waste:
“The UK throws away seven million tonnes of food and drink every year; two million of this is thrown away by households and 670,000 of this is food that has been thrown out because food labels have been misinterpreted! The majority of this could have been eaten. This costs households an average of £470 year in wasted food annually.”
– Approved Food
For even more stats and facts on food waste, check out our eye-catching infographic for Exeter Food Action. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with my top three foodie tips for minimising food waste (and maximising your meals) at home:
1. Boil your bones
For a light stock (perfect for soups or risottos!) simply add the bones/carcass from your Sunday roast to a pot, cover with water and gently simmer on a low heat for 2-6 hours (add any veg-ends – carrots/onions/celery/leeks, etc. work well – for extra flavour, but they’re not essential!).
2. Bobbin’ for eggs
Eggs are one of those foods that you can definitely eat beyond their ‘best before’ date – to make sure they’re still good to eat carefully drop them in a bowl of cold water; if they rest on the bottom they’re good to go, and if they float they’re bad (so you can chuck them out without the guilt).
3. Go bananas for banana bread
I actually only buy bananas to let them ‘go bad’… because I get to make one of my favourite sweet treats, banana bread! ‘Manky’ old bananas are perfect for making banana bread, so never throw your brown bananas away – make banana bread. It will last for days too and can even be toasted!
Remember to use common sense and do your research; many foods can be safely consumed way after the best before date (especially heavily sugared or salted items, e.g. jams and soy sauces can easily be kept/used for years!). In general if it looks, smells and tastes OK it should be fine. If you’re worried, Business Insider (and many others) have covered a few basics on how to tell if food has gone bad.
Try to think a little more about how you shop, prep and store food… how about multiple little shopping trips over the traditional weekly shop? There is less risk of over, and impulse buying, which leads to throwing away food that never gets eaten. Or you could try meal prepping and loving your leftovers – you’ll be surprised at how creative and delicious ‘leftover’ meals can be! Use the whole of the food item you’re prepping for a meal, e.g. leave the skin on potatoes and eat the stems on things like broccoli – not only is this less wasteful, it’s so much more nutritional too (plus who can be bothered to peel a spud anyway?). Finally, make friends with your ice cube tray and freezer; so many sauces, stocks and food in general can be easily portioned and frozen for later.
Have something to add? We’d love to hear your thoughts on food waste: tweet us @gmdesignltd.