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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Love food hate waste?

On Sunday, I saw four trolley loads worth of bread products being dumped in a skip by a local supermarket. I asked people (on Facebook) why this bread could not perhaps be donated or given away and was told that although some is often donated locally, there are issues of food safety and issues of legality*.

Is it just me or is this a little nuts?

Seeing this certainly got me thinking- not just about the wider wastage of food by large companies, but closer to home- the food we waste in our households.

We all do it. We cook too much, forget to put it away (or perhaps we don't have anywhere to put it) and then we throw it out. Or we buy products on special (coz its cheap!) which we don't use;they go off and then we throw them out. In fact, I know there are food items in our fridge right now which will be going in the bin for tomorrow's rubbish collection. Stuff which we should have frozen but didn't; things which we should have made an effort to use.

So how do we combat this problem?

I have found two great websites which deal with this issue. has a great section on reducing your amount of food waste under 'Shopping'.
Love food hate waste is a website run by a non-profit organisation in the UK. They promote recycling, home composting and most of all, wasting less food.

Both sites have a great section on tips and some of these I have collated below:

  • Plan your meals-- we keep meaning to try this.
  • Use your leftovers
  • Store your food properly
  • Check 'Use by' and 'Best Before' dates (and both sites explain the difference between these)

After seeing all of this wastage, We are going to try to dramatically reduce the food waste in our household. Part of this, unfortunately, probably means reducing the amount of baking I do, which for me is quite a big thing. We will try the meal planning idea which has never worked for us, but perhaps we are missing something.

Does anyone have any great ideas on how they have or will reduce the amount of food waste in their household?

Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

*ie if someone got sick from eating old food, the supermarket would be liable. There's probably a lot more to this as well, but this is the information I was told.


  1. use leftovers, check out Destitute Gourmet for ideas for using them in different ways - you can make them into stews, fritters, pasta bakes, even put them into breads (mum has an awesome mashed potato Sally Lun recipe!).
    Or, if leftovers can't be used, chuck them in a bag in the freezer and give them to friends with dogs ;-) hehe.
    - Helen

  2. Have you ever done a food waste audit? Like photograph (or write down) everything you throw out in a week or in a month? We've done that for various areas of our lives where we feel like we're not happy with how stuff's working and its been quite illuminating. If you did an audit then you would get a better idea of where the problems are and know what to work on, rather than just trying to do better without quite knowing how.

  3. Thanks Helen and Heather!
    @Heather, we've never thought about doing a food waste audit but it sounds like a really great idea- albeit slightly scary! How have you done audits in other areas of your life?

  4. Hi Emma,

    We've done a few audits! (revealing my/our inner geek, here....)

    Soon after we got married we put all the receipts for everything we bought in a box for three months. At the end of that we looked through them and put the spending into categories which we used as the basis of writing a budget. We have since carried on recording our spending (now using an accounting programme on the computer) and comparing it with the budget. It's a bit of a pain to do, but we really appreciate how we really know where all of our money goes, and that it's being spent in ways that agree with our values :-)

    We've also done several super-detailed carbon emissions audits in recent years. Martin's blogged about this here (see the links within the post, too).

    We also once went through our recycling bin when it was full (back when paper and cardboard were recycled separately from other stuff) and had a think about what most of it was and how to reduce it. I can't remember much about that, though, or what changes we made.

    It helps that I'm a numbers and details person :-) Martin wouldn't have the patience to record as much detail as I do, but we both appreciate having the data once it's there - especially when we try and make changes and then do a new audit and see improvement!

    The tediousness of collecting the detail is one reason I thought of taking pictures: then you can just upload them all to your computer once you're done and skim through them and see if there are any trends. So long as you generally have a phone with a camera on you there should be minimal hassle in the actual recording :-)

    --Heather :-)