Saturday, 9 February 2013

Food Waste Friday and Slim Your Bin, Week 3 - all rolled into one!

This year we've been joining in with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's waste watching Slim Your Bin project which is based on Karen Cannard's Rubbish Diet.

Each week has a different focus and this week it was Food Waste. Great! That's one thing we do know about!

Let's rewind to May last year. This was when I stumbled into blogging through reading a few other thrifty, frugal blogs. 

One afternoon I decided to see how difficult it was to set up a blog and whether someone like me, with no technological know how, could do it. Somehow I got myself set up on Blogger and I thought that if I did a couple of posts based on the Frugal Girl's Food Waste Friday, I could try the whole blogging thing out whilst being fairly sure that no-one would actually read what I was writing, because there are plenty of much better blogs out there and no-one could possibly be interested in reading about the food that a middle-aged woman in Wiltshire was throwing away, could they? That would be the end of it.

Nine months later, I'm still blogging. Baffling as it may seem, people did seem to read what I'd written and some of the most popular blog posts here are the Food Waste Friday ones. Which is lucky because it's meant that by being so publicly accountable, we really have reduced our food waste and saved money as a result. I also hope that it reflects a growing awareness that there is an environmental and moral imperative to reduce our food waste. With more and more people in the UK relying on food banks, and more and more people globally affected by food crises, we all have a duty to use our food wisely. If I can play a small part in the awareness raising process then I'm happy to keep chronicling my food waste successes and failures!

This week I thought I'd share with you everything I've learnt about reducing food waste in the last 9 months, as well as some of the tips that were sent out in this week's Slim Your Bin newsletter.

1. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers quickly, so that you can reuse them.
    Left over Christmas dinner veg
2. Ideally, keep leftovers in see-through containers so that you remember to use them once they are in the fridge.

3. Transfer bagged salads into a bowl with absorbent cloth or keep in a damp tea towel in the fridge. 

4.Most things can be frozen. For instance I never knew that yogurt can be frozen, but it can. I liked Emma Croft, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Waste Minimisation Officer's quote: "I think of freezing as pressing the pause button."

5. Freeze fruit oddments for smoothies and easy sorbet type puddings.

Sorbet - it's just blended up frozen leftover fruit
6. Beware of BOGOFs (buy one get one free) or bargains. A bargain's not a bargain if you won't get round to eating it or you end up throwing it away.

7. It's amazing what can be recycled into a cake! Porridge, over ripe bananas, dried up oranges, excess yogurt...we've used them all!

Chocolate and Yogurt cake

8. Rescue cooking disasters rather than throwing them away; you can always cut burnt bits off (or use up super thick porridge in a cake...)

9. Save croutons or breadcrumbs in the freezer. (One day I'll do a special breadcrumbs blog post!).

Bread chopped into croutons for the freezer
10. Pay attention to the weather. Fruit and veg go mouldy and squishy more quickly in the heat and my family stop eating chilly things like yogurt and salady stuff when it's cold.

11. Lemon that's past its best can be used for cleaning.

12. Menu plan: use up what you've got or make a list for what you haven't got. Then stick to the list.

13. It's perfectly safe to take a cavalier attitude towards 'best before' dates. These are a 'quality' date rather than for food safety. 'Use by' is a safety date, so you may want to be more careful with these. 'Display until' and 'Sell by' are information for the retailer only. Trust your senses and your common sense. Does it look and smell OK?

14. For food waste that you really can't freeze or reuse, consider getting a food digester or a couple of chickens!

Have you got any other food waste tips?


  1. I have reduced my food waste greatly, but trying to have a plan for most things that I buy. I did a lot of "maybe-I'll-use-this" buying before. I think that's kind of the same thing as #6.

  2. For flat-dwellers with no garden or chicken, I strongly recommend the Bokashi bucket system. Two things held me back initially from trying it: the size of the buckets and having nowhere to dig in the fermented 'compost'. I don't know about suppliers in the UK but in Australia smaller buckets suitable for a 1-2 person household can be obtained from,and it has not proved difficult to find a patch of waste ground or, alternatively, a neighbour with a a garden and/or compost heap glad to have the additional compost material. The system copes happily with tea-leaves, citrus peels, egg-shells, dead flowers and, of course, all vegetable trimmings.

    1. Thanks for that tip. I had heard of the Bokashi system and a quick internet search suggests they are available in the UK too.

  3. I definitely use the freezer as a pause button - the only problem is now it is filled to capacity, so I have to work on actually eating the food that's in there! In the hot weather I've been freezing mangoes and nectarines and just eating them frozen, which is delicious :)

    The weather is a great problem for me as well since I grew up in a cooler climate and don't expect the fruit to go off so quickly in the heat.

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