Food waste happens very easily. You’ve bought all those groceries for the week, but end up going out or ordering in and the food you have goes to waste.
But this is a massive problem. According to the WWF, 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in South Africa every year, while millions of South Africans go hungry.
The energy from wasted food production is estimated as enough to power the City of Johannesburg for roughly 16 weeks. The water wasted would fill over 600,000 Olympic swimming pools. It also contributes to global warming as 90% of food waste ends up in landfills and leads to the production of methane gas and carbon dioxide.
According to Averda, 44% of food waste is vegetables and fruits, 26% is grains, 15% is meat and the remaining 13% consists of oilseeds, tubers and roots. While most of this happens at production and retail levels, there are things that ordinary South Africans can do to help curb this problem.
How to help avoid food waste
Plan your menu and buy less
It sounds so simple, but many people struggle with this as a full fridge looks very appealing. But doing weekly shopping trips where you plan what you’re buying and consider the shelf life of certain items will work wonders. Also planning what you’re eating for the week before you go shopping will help immensely. Food24 has Easy Weekday Meals for exactly this reason.
Repurpose food before it goes off
Best before dates can be misleading – in many cases, if the food still looks and smells pretty good, you can still use it. Consider turning stale bread into croutons for soup or breadcrumbs for cooking. See if those wilted veggies can be blitzed into soups or stews or baked into fabulous desserts or great comfort food. Or turn leftovers from the night before into something new.
Store food correctly
Knowing how to store food properly really helps its shelf life. Keeping your fridge at the right temperature (5°C) and storing different foods in the correct parts of the fridge (or out of the fridge) is vital. Read ‘Should I keep my flour in the fridge?’ and other food storage questions answered to find the answers.
Freeze what you can
Want to keep fruit for your morning smoothies? Freeze them. Leftover bread? Freeze it. Made too much of your favourite meal? Put it in the freezer! It will save space in your fridge and keep your favourite foods from spoiling.
Eat those leftovers
Stop letting your leftovers just chill in the fridge until you throw them away. Eat them as soon as you can , or use them to make another dish.
Take lunch to work
Instead of buying a sandwich from the shop around the corner, pack in those leftovers or create a meal for yourself from what you’ve got at home. Use quality food containers that won’t spill. It will save you time and money.
The scraps from the stems, peels, unusable bits of food and even coffee grounds and tea bags are great for the compost pile. Turn those bits of wasted food into nutrient rich fertiliser and feed the plants in your garden.
What are ways that you’re avoiding food waste in the home?