Too often it happens that we have made too much food and we have to throw the leftovers in the bin. And that’s a shame. In Belgium, 3.8 million tons of food are wasted every year. But you can help reduce that number. We would like to list some tips that ensure that you as an individual can still contribute to this worldwide problem.
1. Keep track of what you waste
When you start keeping track of what you throw away, you get a better idea of how much food you really waste. This way you can better estimate the quantities you need to bring with you the next time you go to the store. If you keep track of how much food you waste every day for about two weeks, you will get a clear pattern. You don’t need any special equipment for that, just a measuring cup, empty storage boxes or jars. Or even taking photos is also perfect. With the kind of diary you keep, it will certainly surprise you how much food we actually waste.
2. Make lists
Making lists is the golden tip! Make a list before you go to the store. Entering the store without a list is dangerous. There is a great risk of being tempted and buying products that you don’t actually need. That is why a list of all the things you need is really handy.
Another handy list is one to hang on the fridge. Make a list of all the food in your refrigerator that is about to expire or where the expiration date is only a short period. This way you will not forget that one product that is at the very back.
3. Be creative
Before you go to the store, you might want to check what you have left in the fridge. Who knows, you can make a homemade recipe with the ingredients that are not good for very long. That also saves you a trip to the supermarket and it is also super original too!
Understand the food labels
Best used for, packed on, shelf life until … Can’t you see the forest through the trees? Food labels can be very confusing for the customers. It is therefore also very useful if you know what those labels actually want to say.
Best used for / best before: Indicates when a product is at its best. But it says nothing about when you can keep it.
Sell for: Indicates to the sellers that they know how long they can offer the product in the store. That says nothing about the expiration date.
Freeze for: Tells you when to freeze the product to keep its good taste. That does not mean that the product has expired after that date.
Use until: The expiry date. After this date, the product may no longer be sold and consumed.
But above all use your common sense and your instincts. Sometimes it is possible that a product spoils before the expiry date or that it lasts longer than stated. Pay special attention to a strange taste, smell or texture.
5. Cook to measure
Take into account how many people eat with it and what is a good portion for them. You can weigh exactly how much you need with a kitchen scale. Pasta is about twice as big in cooking and is therefore such a product that you always make too much or too little. Once you have found a good size, you will be able to estimate much better how much you need.
6. Use overripe fruits and vegetables
Have you left certain fruits a little too long? Do not throw it away yet, because you may still be able to make a smoothie or a shake. Vegetables that show some stains can also still be used. Think for example of soup or a stew.
7. Tips for refrigerators and freezers
There are some tips on how to use the fridge and freezer in a smart way. Use the recommended temperature to keep the food cold enough. An ideal temperature for the refrigerator is 4 ° Celsius. It is also important where you place the products. The temperature appears colder at the back, because cold air escapes from the front every time you open the refrigerator. It is therefore best to place products that really need to stay cold, such as milk and meat.
Freezing fruit and vegetables is a good alternative to store the products longer. Frozen fruits and vegetables are still very nutritious and have a much longer shelf life than the fresh ones. And usually it is cheaper in the store too. You can also perfectly freeze leftovers and save them for later.
8. Share with your neighbors
Are you someone who always cooks too much and still eats the leftovers the next day? Maybe then it’s an idea to share your surpluses with your neighbors. They may come knocking on your door next time if they have made too much food. And who knows, you might still have some good friends.
9. Avoid dry bread
Bread is the biggest loser in the fight against food waste. We throw away most of all our bread, which is often unjustified. You can simply avoid dry bread by freezing it once you have bought it. It thaws quickly and you can choose how much bread you put on the table, so super handy! Do you have dry bread? Then you might be able to make French toast or bread pudding.
10. Saving food surpluses with Too Good To Go
You have no idea what you want to eat tonight? Then take a look at the app Too Good To Go. There you can save food surpluses at supermarkets and local traders for a bargain price. The app is very user-friendly and immediately shows you which stores in your area are participating in this action against food waste.