Did you know that 33% of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every year? 25% of that wasted food could feed all 795 million undernourished people in the world. Not only that, but 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year are due to food waste. Scary isn’t it? But what can we all do about it?
Sharing It Out Fairly
Making the most of the ingredients we have here in the CENS kitchen is vitally important in the fight against food waste. Being on a very tight budget and having to feed large numbers of people every day, we are extremely fortunate to have the support of charitable organisation Fareshare. They regularly redistribute and deliver vital ingredients to many charities including the shelter. They have become leaders in food waste reduction, whilst helping struggling and vulnerable people access the food they need in order to lead healthy lives.
Ingredients For Reducing Waste
To demonstrate how inventive and versatile our volunteer chefs need to be, here’s how Pete came up with a nutritional meal for 12 people. On the menu was a lamb and kidney pie with mash with shredded cabbage. The lamb was from Tesco via Fareshare. The cabbage came from Waitrose via Fareshare. The potatoes were donated by a local farmer. The store cupboard ingredients were purchased with cash donations from CENS amazing supporters. 100% donated and 100% British!
Our volunteer chefs have come up with their 7 small tips for making a big difference…
1. Make a shopping list
Don’t just wander around the supermarket randomly stuffing anything you fancy into your trolley. Not only will you end up with bags full of unhealthy treats and exotic ingredients you’ll never use, but you’ll also fall for the 2 for 1 offers and buy far too much of what you don’t need. Plan ahead, make a list based on the meals you are going to cook and the things you have run out of.
2. Go frozen
Check dates and freeze fresh food before it goes out of date. Buy frozen veg if more convenient, but if your fresh veg is going a bit mushy, cook it and freeze it. You can make sauces, purees, soups, or just blanch and freeze. Keep a freezer itinerary so you know what you have stocked. This way you can include your frozen foods in your meal plans.
3. Control your portions
Always cook up a huge pan of spaghetti even when there are just 2 of you? Regularly throw an extra potato in for good luck? Always end up scraping several man-sized meals into the food recycling? STOP! Measure things out – it may seem tedious, but you’ll soon find you are eating more healthily and wasting less.
4. Freeze leftovers
If you do have leftover food, then simply freeze it for another day. Sauces, stews, curries all freeze brilliantly and you’ll save yourself a day of meal cooking. Just make a cup of tea and wait for the beautiful ‘ping’ of the microwave.
5. Check those dates
Do you know the difference between a use-by date and a best-before date? Make sure you only buy what you can use before the expiry date. Also, keep a regular check on all those store cupboard ingredients. We have all found that 4 year-old can of soup lurking at the back of the cupboard or that fading spice pot from 1998!
6. Get Inventive
If you do have some ingredients or leftovers which need using, channel your inner super-chef and come up with a recipe which can incorporate them. Black bananas make fantastic banana bread and squishy tomatoes can be slow-roasted with a few herbs for an amazing soup or sauce. Stale bread makes the best breadcrumbs which can then be frozen. Our CENS cooks do this all the time, and it’s surprising what you can conjour up when you put your mind to it.
7. Get in a pickle
Ever tried preserving food? Properly canning or pickling foods can massively extend their shelf life. You can pickle anything from onions to cucumbers. Make a spicy chutney to accompany your doorstop cheese sandwich or a sticky strawberry jam to add to hot buttered toast.
So there you have it. The CENS guide to reducing food waste. Give a couple of them a go and see what a difference it makes – you’ll be saving money and saving the planet.