How Lancs students can reduce food waste in light of ‘World Food Day’
To help you fight climate change and world hunger by reducing your food waste
Friday’s Lancashire lockdown greatly overshadowed World Food Day on the 16th October, but the Instagram pages of WWF and Sir David Attenborough still posted about reducing food waste to save our planet.
Unfortunately, in Lancaster, there is no real food waste collection system, so unless you have the garden space to compost, you have to put any waste in the general waste bin to be collected. Please don’t put food waste in green waste bins; they are not meant for that.
Because of this shortage, it is important to decrease the amount of food that you waste. It goes without saying that the best way to do this, is to use it all. There’s a couple components to this: eating food before it goes off and saving left over food. Here is a definite list of ways Lancaster students can reduce food waste and help to save the planet.
Cooking in portions
You might find that cooking for multiple people in one night saves you leftovers. Most food we buy is packaged in amounts designed for families so it can be hard to use up quickly or produce portions which are manageable for one person. This means that if you are only cooking for yourself, you have to sort out the storage of leftovers and unused ingredients which can often be inconvenient.
So cook for two, three, or four people each night. Not only is this a really fun thing to do with your flatmates, it will also save you money as bigger packets are cheaper to buy. Plan out who will cook on which nights, or all cook together, then all you have to do is each buy the ingredients for the meal you cook.
Looking after left overs
If you do end up with left overs, Tupperware is absolutely your best friend because it makes it easy to save food. If you’re like me and you can’t cook one portion for one night, Tupperware is a life saver as it means that you can cook for two meals. Left over food can be kept in the fridge for a night or you can freeze it to eat when you want. Consequently, you don’t have to cook every night. This method is great for those who are into counting their calories and planning meals, this is a really effective way to do meal prep.
Try to be creative with leftovers and turn them into meals. Firstly, always save them! Don’t throw them away because they are really easy to use up. One of the simplest ways to do this is in an omelette. You can basically put anything in them, just heat your leftovers in a frying pan, then throw some beaten eggs over it. Or, just throw everything in a curry sauce, maybe adding in some onions if they are not included in your left overs. It’s really easy.
Keeping food fresh
Make sure that you are storing items properly, checking the packaging as it will have information on the best way to store a item so that it stays fresh the longest. You might find that an item you had first thought to put in the fridge can be stored and cooked straight from the freezer. There’s loads of hacks as well to keep things fresh. I like to cover punnets of fruit and vegetables with tin foil to prevent air getting into the packet.
One thing which goes with this is to keep track of the expiration dates of the food that you buy. This will mean that you know when things need to be eaten by and therefore can plan your meals accordingly to prevent food from going bad.
Additionally, portioning is a great way to make sure that you use all that you buy. It is especially important with meat as it is often sold in family sized packs. However, if you can divide this up into portions small enough to use one at a time, then wrap these portions in tin foil and freeze them, then they can be used when they are needed rather than all at once. You can also use small containers which are reusable or sandwich bags. If you can find them, washable sandwich bags are great as you don’t have to throw them away after use.
If you know that you’re not going to eat something before it goes off, offer it to your flatmates. One of them will definitely take it and use it in their meals. Students are always looking for free stuff.
Shopping tips and tricks
You can also reduce your food waste by shopping efficiently. There’s two options, either only buy what you need of perishable items or buy items that can be stored for ages in bulk. You can buy loose items of fruit and veg so you don’t have to buy a massive bag and risk it all going off before it can be used. Buying frozen items is a massive cost and food save. The items stay fresh so you can buy in bulk for very cheap to last you for weeks. There are so many frozen options available from vegetables to meat and fish.
As a final note, it’s important to control the waste of the packaging as well as food. Packaging has instructions on whether it can be recycled so make sure that you check this and recycle it properly to further reduce your burden on the planet.
If you are hesitant about putting some of these things into practice because you don’t think you’re contribution could ever impact global issues, please realise that you’re not alone and if we all change, we can all make a massive difference.