Despite our efforts, we are wasteful creatures. Together, we throw away a collective 15 million tonnes of food waste, effectively tossing 1.3 billion meals and £19 billion in the garbage every year.
However, this is not the fault of restaurants or spoiled food on the farm. Nearly 50% of the food sitting in landfills comes from our homes, and most of it could have been eaten when it was thrown in the trash.
Think about the amount of food you throw away at home. WRAP estimates each household trashes 4.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food. That’s like making six extra meals each week and serving it to your waste bin. How does your house’s waste compare to that of the average UK house? How much money could those six wasted meals save you?
At Grub Club, we already know that supper clubs are better for the environment and produce less food waste than restaurants and household meals. While there are several lists and tips to reducing food waste at home from nonprofit organisations, like this one from WRAP, we’ve compiled our own based on advice and practices of our chefs.
Here are 7 supper clubs tips to help you reduce food waste and better the environment at your own home:
1. Make a grocery list… and stick to it
Perhaps the most common advice for reducing food waste, making a grocery list is a tried and true practice anyone can follow. Many of us already make a grocery list – at least a mental one – before heading to the store, but we tend to over-purchase foods we think we will use before the expiration date and foods we never intended to buy before leaving the house.
Our chefs always know exactly what they need for their dishes. They plan out each dish, every ingredient required, the precise amount of each ingredient, and where they can purchase it. Even though most of us are not cooking over ten dishes, we can follow the chefs’ example by planning our meals for the week and buying only what we need. Not only will this help you better budget your grocery bill, but it will also decrease food waste by avoiding unnecessary purchases.
2. Know how many people you are cooking for
Know how many people you are cooking for and cook only enough for that many people. Many of us believe it’s best to cook in larger quantities so that we have leftovers for the whole week, but that method does not work with many foods. While leftovers are great to have on hand, they are often what we forget about in the back of the refrigerator and throw away later.
Unlike a restaurant, our chefs know exactly how many diners will attend their supper club; therefore, they know exactly how much food they need to make. Rosie Llewellyn, chef of A Little Lusciousness, has mastered this technique so the only food waste from her pop-ups come from the food left on the plate. Take this advice home with you, and cook only enough for yourself, “X” number of people who will also eat that meal, and just enough for one or two leftovers (if you want leftovers, that is).
You’ve probably heard this advice before from weight-loss and health experts as a way to prevent overeating. But did you know that portioning your plate can also significantly reduce food waste? Imagine all the food you’ve left on your plate because you were too full to finish. All of that was edible, preventable food waste.
Jude Skipwith, chef of The Literary Hour, portions her servings tightly to reduce the amount of edible, preventable food waste at her venues. Follow her example and take only what you know you can finish; you can go back for seconds later!
4. Grow your own herbs and produce
Herbs are expensive, especially if you buy them frequently from the grocery store or end up throwing some away because they spoil. Instead, pick a few of your favorite herbs and grow them in your home. Herbs are great for decorating, don’t take up too much space, and provide great flavor and nutrients in your meals. Not only are they excellent for cleansing your body from last night’s fish and chips but herbs have for a long time been used to cleanse the house of negative energy and odors.
If you have the space and time, growing your own garden or a couple of your most-used produce is a great alternative to buying produce from the local store. Tomatoes and peas are two simple and common vegetables anyone can grow. However, this can be difficult if you don’t have the time, patience, or space.
5. Use a food waste bin
Many of our chefs dispose of food waste in a food waste (compost) bin. Food disposed of in a compost bin travel to a composting factory that then sends the decomposed food back as nutrient-rich fertiliser. As food decomposes, it releases methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The composting factory captures this methane, cleans it, and uses it to make electricity with 100% efficiency. Food thrown in the waste bin never becomes fertiliser and releases all of its methane to the atmosphere.
To avoid food spoiling in your own home, know where and how to store each food. For leftovers, use an airtight container to separate meats and veggies as vegetables will often save longer than meat. Or, separate leftovers into separate containers to serve as portioned lunch or dinners for the rest of the week. Also, these 11 foods you should never throw away. For more extensive advice on how to store your food, check out this website.
7. Invite friends over, and send them home with food
In the true spirit of supper clubs, inviting friends over to share a meal is the best way to engage with others while reducing food waste. We tend to prepare too much food when gathering with friends for a meal, which is fine. Send friends home with food, so you don’t have an overwhelming amount of leftovers in your kitchen that you will inevitably throw away. Jude Skipwith will often send her diners home with “doggie bags” so she does not have to throw food away. ◊