A few nights ago, we watched a TV programme talking about food waste. It set me thinking so I thought I would share my ruminations with y’all.
As a shopper, I like to think I’m fairly savvy – I go for the ‘bogofs’ and such the like, but only when they are items that we actually use. I try to keep a store-cupboard of essential items in tins and jars – just in case of power cuts, fuel shortages, acts of God and so on but I rotate the contents and keep an eye on the dates. And here is where it all goes a bit personal. I’m NOT a slave to the printed dates on our foods.
There are three types of date on our food. First up is the ‘Sell By’ or ‘Display Until’ date. This one is purely for the seller, it has nothing to do with whether or not the contents of the package are going to poison you after that date, so in short, as shoppers, the only time that this date becomes of interest to us is when it results in a price decrease! Nice one!
|Image from thisismoney.co.uk|
The second sort of date found on our foods is the ‘Best Before’ date. These are the shopper’s friend again, because they often result in reduced prices on or close to the date on the packaging. Usually these will be fine to eat for a good while after the date – it’s an advisory date. Tins and jars of food will have this on them and can safely be used for some years after the date as long as the tin is not damaged or in the case of jars, the seal is still intact. Even items such as biscuits and other dry goods can safely be used for months after the date as long as the packaging is in good order.
The last sort of date is the ‘Use By’ date. This one is pretty much there to keep you safe and well – it’s on things like milk, meat and fish that will ‘go off’ quite quickly and cause you some nasty tummy problems if you eat them when they are off. Generally, this one needs to be stuck to, although one day past the date I would happily use most foods, and even a couple if it looks and smells fine.
So where does this leave the state of my bins you ask? Ok, for a family of six, we put one bin liner out for collection one week and two the next. However, we also have a wheelie bin full of recycling – mostly packaging, it has to be said. Veg peelings are given to the rabbits and guinea pig, except for the potatoes, which I am going to try turning into wine – watch this space. We don’t waste food on plates – when it’s on your plate – you darned well eat it! I do pay attention to particular dislikes such as one of our boys really doesn’t like gravy and it’s no hardship to leave it off his plate so we don’t get waste. We don’t buy anything that we are not going to eat before it goes off, and if we have a glut of fresh foods, we freeze them. I’m lucky enough to have two freezers which are pretty much full all of the time but again, the contents are rotated to prevent wastage.
When I shop, I have a broad plan in mind of the meals that we will eat for the week. It is flexible enough to include those all important ‘bogofs’ but not so fluid that I will reach out for anything available. In my humble opinion, there-in lies the secret to having les food waste. It’s also a good way to make sure that in a large household, you can try to please all of the people some of the time, which is no mean feat as you probably know.
What strategies do you have for reducing food waste? Share with me please, I’m always willing to learn.