Things that irritate me No. 2 - Tons of Waste

An article in the Evening Standard last night caught my eye and left me slightly irritated.

'Face up to the scandal of the food we throw away' was a story around the amount of food we personally throw away as well as the vast amount supermarkets bin every day.

According to the article we throw away 1/3 of what we buy. I remembered that morning having to throw away half a jar of pesto as the furry hat demons had got into the jar and only last week I had to dispose of a few carrots that had gone funny in the bottom of the fridge.

But I am not as bad now as I have been in the past. I changed my habits in order to plan my meals and make sure I do not buy more than I can physically consume in a week. Not only have I reduced my waste, I have also saved money by not overspending at the till and ended up with a fridge full of food that just cannot be eaten.

It's something simple that can be done but for some reason it is not something we are accustom to in the UK. We like to have a fridge and freezer full of food - why? Choice perhaps. The ease at which we are seduced by offers in supermarkets and the not-such-a-bargain 2-4-1 offers? Whichever why we continue to think it is ok to throw food away and why we feel the need to buy more than we need is something that baffles me.

So rather than waste food here are a couple of tips from me on how to prevent waste:

1. Plan - plan your meals. It might seem boring and it might seem a bit lame but by doing so you soon realise what you need and what you don't need. It's so easy to think 'oooh, I really fancy that, and that' etc and before you know it you have enough food for 5 meals when you only needed one.

2. Make use of your freezer - but don't just throw everything in together. I love a BOGOF offer but to make sure I don't waste further when defrosting I separate things such as sausages, mince and chicken into portions. That way you only have to take out what you need when you need it.

3. Make yourself aware of sell by dates - it's really easy when shopping to pick up what you need without looking at when it is due to go out of date. I remember once getting something from the shops only to realise once I was back in the office that it had gone out of date three days before. Make sure you get a longer shelf time if you are not going to be eating something straight away and also make sure you eat things in the order they go out of date so you don't end up throwing things away.

4. Excess Bread - bread used to be one of the main things I would throw away. It's not like France where there is a Boulangerie within walking distance so buying bread in bulk is quite common. My favourite thing to do with left over bread is bread pudding but you can also make bread and butter pudding - either savoury or sweet.

5. Excess Veg - If you can see you have too much veg and some is likely to go off before you eat it make some soup to put in the freezer to eat at a later date. You will use up your excess veg and put some healthy warming snacks in your freezer for a cold night quick snack or filling lunch.

6. Excess Fruit - if you prepare most fruit you can freeze it. The frozen fruit is great for making smoothies, putting in desserts, using to make cakes (blueberries are especially good for this) or as a previous flatmate of mine used to do, a great cold snack on scorching hot days.

Hopefully they will be some good pointers in the right direction.

The second issue raised in the article was regarding Sacha Hall from Essex who is being taken to court by Tesco for taking waste food thrown out by her local Tesco Express. Apparently what she did is a criminal offence call theft by finding. But surely Tesco are the bigger criminals here - throwing away good food as they overstocked their shelves in order to try and squeeze more money from the public?

Perhaps that is a little harsh but I am irritated by the fact a) Tesco believe this is worth pursuing (£215 of food was taken that was ultimately either going to the dump or a power company to burn as fuel neither of which I would assume Tesco would get money for), b) public money and court time will be taken up pursuing this.

I wonder what the jury will decide.


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