Typical 21st century lifestyle offers everything to us on a plate. An abundance of websites, apps and delivery services meaning we can have what we want, when we want it at the touch of a button. Generally walking into a supermarket, the same rules apply, we are often lucky enough to find the majority of the things that are on our shopping list. This luxury was placed on hold, particularly at the start of lockdown when we were faced with the struggles of empty supermarket shelves and aisles. We had to adapt to the challenge of working with whatever was available and trying to make it last for as long as possible.
For many, this has been an eye opener, leaving us keen to become more resourceful and creative with the ingredients we’re buying and move forward considering how we can work to minimise food waste.
If you want to learn more, see below my top 10 tips to help minimise food waste and make the most from your weekly shop.
Make a meal plan
This doesn’t have to be strict, more like a bank of meal ideas that you have up your sleeve for the week ahead. If you have a rough idea of what you want to make, you can create a shopping list from this plan, and head to the supermarket to pick up what you need.
This can make your weekly shop more affordable; with less chance of picking up unnecessary items and means everything is readily available for you to hit the ground running in the week ahead.
Shop local and buy what you need
Shopping local when possible not only means a shorter journey, reducing potential emissions but also supports your close community of small, independent businesses to continue and grow. Often, these local independent stores are of a smaller scale, with the opportunity to buy single ingredients rather than buying in bulk and creating the potential for waste.
First things first, check your cupboards! Knowing what you already have avoids you doubling up when you head to the shop. When you arrive in store, think about those cupboard staples; things that can be easily incorporated into many meals. Consider foods which are long lasting, filling and nutritious.
Good examples are tins of beans and legumes, dried foods like oats, whole grains, nuts and seeds and frozen fruit and vegetables too. These foods are a great base/ addition to many meals and are unlikely to become inedible after a few weeks in the cupboard.
Don’t fear the frozen! Frozen fruit and vegetables are often cheaper, more readily available all year round and last much longer! They can also be fresher, as often the produce is picked and frozen straight away maintaining the key nutrients.
If your fresh food is getting past its best, chop it up and put it in the freezer. This works particularly well with things like bananas and berries – a perfect addition to porridge or a morning smoothie and fresh herbs and spinach – a great component to a curry or stir fry! Freezing is one of the best ways to reduce waste and make the most of your leftovers.
If you have time one evening, batch cooking is a great way to use up some of your fresh produce for future meals and minimise the potential of waste. You could box up the batch cooked meal into portions and freeze it, doubling up as a great back up dinner after a busy day.
Remember to use your dinner leftovers for lunch – even if there is only a small amount left. Have a look in the fridge and think about what you could add to your leftovers to make a meal of them, rather than getting rid!
Seasonal eating provides us with the freshest and most flavoursome produce. Often, seasonal food has not been transported long distances, meaning we can consume it when it’s at its most nutritious. Due to the fact that it is fresh, local and accessible, it often lasts longer once you get it home to the fridge!
Make the most of what you’ve got!
If you have a bunch of random bits left in the fridge and you’re not sure what to do with them – rather than getting rid, dig out your recipe books, take a look in the back of your cupboard and get creative! It’s amazing what you can make a meal from!
If you’ve got brown bananas; make a banana bread. Vegetables left in the fridge a couple of days too long? Use them to make a soup. Make the most of what you have.
Work to challenge yourself to an almost empty fridge before heading to the shops again – it saves time, it saves money, it minimises waste!
Grow your own
Even a few pots of herbs on the window sill or a single tomato plant in the garden will stop you from continuously buying these items when you’re shopping. There’s something really rewarding about eating a meal which includes your own, home grown produce! Straight from the ground to the plate! I swear it tastes better too!
Keep hold of your scraps
Any leftover vegetable peelings or stems that you don’t use for cooking, pop them in a jar or pot and put them in the freezer. Once you have gathered enough, these can be used to make a vegetable stock or as an addition to the base of a soup! Just boil the scraps in water and seasoning for around 40 minutes – keep hold of the liquid and compost the leftover veg. Consider investing in a bin solely for food waste.
Eat how your grandparents ate
Keep it simple! Food shopping was different years ago. Our grandparents spent their time shopping between the butchers, green grocers, bakery, fish mongers, collecting real food. No family size packets or overuse of packaging! Of course this isn’t always doable or affordable, however considering what it is you need, how much you need and where you source what you need can be beneficial, both toward your health and toward your mission to minimise waste.
According to WRAP's research and estimates compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted.
Be the change!
Here at The Garden we work closely with local suppliers and love to support local businesses to help champion sustainability and reduce impact on the environment. We are always on a mission to learn new ways to minimise waste and are passionate about creating seasonal plates which will provide you with quality nutrients but also play a part in looking after our planet. Check out our ‘Love Your Mother’ sustainability campaign, designed to keep us accountable for sustainable business practices.
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
'The 'Wellness with Anna' philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health, providing clients with the tools they need to make sustainable changes and the motivation to start their new health journey.
We discuss how you can eat real, nourishing food, exercise mindfully and prioritise time to relax. What I provide isn't a diet; it's a holistic approach to a healthier life.'