A plan to reach zero food waste helps the environment and it helps you save money too. You buy less items, you don’t pay middlemen for resources you don’t need and you won’t be inflicting damage on the planet to dispose of it.

And like I said, you are buying waste if what you’re putting in your trolley is food you’re not going to eat.

It takes effort to find sustainable ways of dealing with waste after it gets into your home. The sensible option is to buy only the food you need. The tips here focus on matching the amount of food you buy to the amount you actually consume. In other words, I want to focus on what you buy before it becomes a problem.

still-life groceries

The first steps to reach zero food waste

  1. Rotate the use-by dates in your fridge and move things to a designated box (or shelf?) for things going out-of-date. This means you’ll be more aware of how fresh is the food you already have. You can eliminate the major fridge clearout where you come across wilting sludge that you even forget buying.

  2. Do a stock-take before you head out to the shops. When you see exactly what you have already in the fridge you know exactly what you need to replace, and what you don’t. There’s no more need for guesswork!

This post tackles getting your shopping list under control. You are using a shopping list, aren’t you?

After you’ve worked out how to buy only what you need, take a look at these realistic tips to achieve zero food waste in the kitchen. The article is relevant to how we eat today – for most people that means not just the healthy meals we plan but the in-between not-so-healthy snacks too.

  1. Look for patterns in what you are throwing away. Check your last receipt (keep it on the fridge door?) to see if there are any clear patterns to the items that you didn’t get round to eating but threw away instead. Did you find that tempting impulse buys ended up in the bin? Do you always stock up on too much healthy vegetabkes because you want to be that person?

  2. If you want to take it a step furnter and be really organised follow the advice in this video to track what you buy and what you throw away over a longer period. The key is to look for patterns.

receipt-food-waste

  1. Ask yourself what you can cook up with the ingredients you already have. You might have a selection of perishables that don’t look like any meal you know but maybe the internet will be able to tell you how to use them. There are many websites that specialise in this very problem – try Supercook. And there’s a wide selection of apps too.

  2. Plan your meals. The obvious benefit of meal planning is that you buy only what you plan to eat. You also cut down on time in the kitchen and all that effort working out what you’re going to cook, plus you’ll have all the right ingredients to make something healthy and varied rather than falling back on the same old tin of beans.

  3. Make food last longer. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean eeking out your meals with tiny portions, it means storing the food you buy properly. There are many useful storage tips on the internet. I like this tip to store mayonnaise in the fridge door rather on one of the shelves – a little known fact is that the inner part of the fridge is colder and this would cause mayonnaise to separate. The subject of storage goes beyond the fridge to advice for freezing, canning and drying too. It’s just about getting organised, like so many approaches we can take to wreak less harm on the environment.

You can reach zero food waste if you attack the problem at the base. First look for patterns in the items you buy that end up as waste. Identify which of the measures outlined above will make the biggest difference for you. When you implement a few ideas you’ll be inspired by the results and you might implement a few more… it should be easy-ish to keep up the good work.