If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that during February I took part in the #FoodSavvy challenge to see if I could reduce how much food we throw away as a family. The challenge is now over (I know, how is it March, it was only Christmas a few weeks ago, right?) During the last three weeks I used some products gifted to me by IKEA and Lakeland to help me keep my food fresher for longer. I also made a conscious effort to think about using leftovers in my meals, and tried to improve my meal planning. The big question is, did all of these things help me lower my food waste? Well, as the title suggests, they did indeed. And by more than I thought possible. Here’s how I got on, and my top tips for reducing your food waste.
The #FoodSavvy challenge
Quite simply, the #FoodSavvy challenge aimed to reduce food waste. Because a shocking £810 worth of edible food is thrown away per household in Norfolk and Suffolk every year! That works out at almost £70 worth of food not being eaten and thrown away every month. I’m still actually staggered by that statistic. To see if I could reduce our avoidable food waste, we needed to weigh any edible food that ended up in the bin during week 1 and 4. I didn’t weigh our vegetable peelings, apple cores or tea bags etc. Instead this was food that had gone off, we couldn’t finish (rare in my case, lets be honest!). Mostly it was food that the children had refused to eat.
As I said in my first post, I think as a family we are pretty good at using up food before it gets thrown out. That’s just our way, we don’t like waste. What we couldn’t really control was how much the baby threw on the floor! And we did used to get caught out with the odd dairy product that had gone past their use by date. At the end of week one we had thrown out 600g of avoidable food waste. 600g of food that could have been eaten but wasn’t, went into landfill or our composter.
As I mentioned half way through the challenge, I then started to use the products to see if these helped. There were a couple which stood out as being particularly useful. The food huggers from Lakeland were my favourite product. They’re a great invention. They are silicone lids to go around fresh food that’s cut open such as peppers, cucumber, onions etc. They helped to keep those foods fresher for longer and meant I didn’t have to cut any off before having it the next time, which I had done in the past.
I also think the Stayfresh longer storage bags from Lakeland have helped us keep food fresher for longer too. We used these to store vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower in. They also sent a nifty lemon saver which helps to save cut lemons. The IKEA glass jar now keeps my homemade granola fresh! And the IKEA storage bags were handy for storing leftover baked beans in the fridge and freezing some pea patties I’d made for the baby.
Week 4 came long before I knew it and we were back to measuring our daily food waste. During the last week of the challenge we had 349g of avoidable food waste. Nearly half what we had thrown away in week 1! I was pretty pleased with that result.
How to be #FoodSavvy
I’ll be honest, I went into this challenge unsure of how much progress we’d make because I thought we were pretty #FoodSavvy already. But I suppose what the challenge really taught me, was to fully assess my fridge before meal planning. This was a big game changer. That way I started to make meals around my leftovers. I think this definitely helped me avoid wasting dairy products such as soured cream, cream cheese and even some sour cream and chive dip after we’d had fajitas one night.
Another lesson learned is to not over fill my baby’s plate with too many vegetables at a time! Easier said than done. We all want our kids to eat veg! But, surprise surprise, they were the biggest food waste contributors during our last week. One day was particularly bad. It was my fault because I shouldn’t have kept putting broccoli florets in front of him when he hadn’t eaten the first. I think four broccoli florets ended up on the floor and in the bin that day!
The other big tip I’ll now pass onto others and keep on doing ourselves is making sure I meal plan with one day a week in mind to cook with leftovers, or failing that, to eat something which I have batch cooked and frozen. I wouldn’t say I’ve particularly altered how we cook in terms of main meals, because I would often batch cook a chilli or spaghetti bolognese and save a couple of portions for the freezer. But now, it might say “Thursday – freezer” on the meal plan, but if I notice some leftover chicken and vegetables I’ll either knock up a quick pasta dish or whack it together with some cous cous or quinoa and make a salad for my lunch, rather than have a sandwich or something with the kids.
So those are my main takeaways from the challenge. If you took part, I hope you managed to lower your food waste too. And if you’ve been following my #FoodSavvy challenge then I hope there’s a few things you’ve learnt. Hopefully you can take away my tips to help your family waste less food. After all, it’s better for your bank balance, and better for the environment. And that’s what it’s all about.