Reducing Food Waste
by Ruth Jeffers | 14th Jul 2022
Ireland produces approximately 3 million tonnes of waste per year, of which, food waste accounts for approximately one third. Furthermore, one third of food waste occurs in our homes.
Foods discarded by consumers are often still suitable for consumption, creating ethical and economical issues. The environmental impact of food waste is huge, contributing to 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Food production uses up land, water and other agricultural resources, meaning that when food goes to waste on a consumer level, these resources have too been wasted.
Here are some ways that you can help reduce food waste in your home!
Check your fridge before you go shopping and plan your meals around what is left in the fridge. What have you got left from last week’s shop? If there are leftover vegetables that are nearing their end, you could use them for a soup or a vegetable broth. If there is some chicken that is about to go off, maybe you could plan to buy the remaining ingredients for a curry, incorporating the ingredients you have into your weekly plan.
Planning your meals for the week can help you to avoid food waste as you know exactly what you need in the shops for the meals that you will prepare for the week.
Freeze your foods
Freezing foods is a simple and effective way of preserving foods with limited loss of nutritional value. Fruits can be frozen if they are nearing their use-by date, and used later on for smoothies. If you prepped a batch of a meal such as curry, bolognese, lasagne etc. and won’t get around to eating it all, you can freeze it until a later date. This can come in handy on weeks when you’re very busy and don’t have time to cook.
The A-Z of Foods is a comprehensive list of instructions on how to store and freeze your foods! If you are unsure, take a look at this list for ideas on how to reduce food waste in your home.
Eat the skin
We are inclined to peel vegetables and throw away the skins, however this can contribute to unnecessary food waste. Vegetables and fruits actually retain lots of important nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fibre, in their skin! These can be incorporated into dishes and are often not even noticed. If peeling vegetables, save the skins for use in a soup or broth, or indeed, freeze them for use at a later date. This can also be done with meat and poultry bones. As well as reducing food waste, this is an excellent way to obtain all nutrients in your foods. The skins of fruit and vegetables can also be composted.
Take leftovers to go
Portion sizes in restaurants are often bigger than those we make for ourselves at home, and this can contribute to a large amount of food waste. If you find yourself unable to finish a meal when out and about - ask for it to go! Restaurants will be more than happy to provide you with a bag to take home with you. This also means that lunch the next day is sorted!
Understanding expiration dates
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 20% of food waste comes from confusion regarding ‘Best before’ and ‘Use-by’ dates.
Best before: foods that have surpassed their ‘Best before’ date are still safe for consumption, however their quality may have just begun to deteriorate, i.e. a loss of flavour or freshness.
Use-by: when foods surpass their ‘Use-by’ date, this means that they are no longer safe for consumption and may pose a risk to the health and safety of the individual.
Foods can be frozen for preservation beyond its use-by date. Foods will often contain instructions on their packaging regarding when to freeze, how long to freeze for, and how to cook from frozen. It is crucial to follow these instructions when freezing foods, especially poultry and meats, to ensure that food safety is maintained.
How we reduce our food waste at GourmetFuel
Here at GourmetFuel, we produce everything to order (that's why we have order cut-offs) to limit ingredient wastage and so our food waste from production is less than 1%.
As we only cook the meals that have been ordered, we rarely have any meals left over at the end of a delivery day but if we ever do due to a late cancelled order we find a great home for those meals by partnering with Too Good To Go app, which offers meals at a reduced cost when they are near their use by date.
And of course it doesn't just stop on our side; many of our customers regularly comment that the beauty of having our meals is that they are only ordering what they want and aren't throwing out bags of lettuce and heads of broccoli anymore! And if you do get invited out last minute all of our meals (excluding salads and breakfasts with fresh fruit) can be frozen for up to three months. So you can go out knowing your GourmetFuel meal will be there when you need it!