Sunday 1 November 2015

The Unpalatable Truth about Food Waste

Like many people nowadays, I'd like to consider myself a bit of a foodie. There is nothing I like better than finding tantalising new recipes that I can try out at home or visiting the newest restaurants in my local area. Food not only provides us with life and energy, it can provide warmth, comfort and dare I say it, happiness. So why do we throw away so much of our delicious, hard earned food?

Did you know that the UK is one of the leaders of food and drink waste within the whole of the EU*? UK households throw away over 4 million tonnes of food & drink annually that is either still fit for human consumption or has been allowed to perish beyond edible standards, so maybe it’s time that we address some of our bad food habits.

Before I start to come off as a preachy little retch, I’ve been guilty of throwing perfectly good food away too. I’ve allowed food to pass the point of being edible instead of preparing a meal with the available fresh food that had a short shelf life. I think this is something we’re all very guilty of, pushing the wilting veg to the back of the fridge and getting our hands on that tasty pizza from the freezer that we’ve had our eye on for the last few days (or is that just me?). I get it, convenience is sometimes more appealing than slaving over a hot stove. 

Within Wraps executive summary of the 2012 Household Food and Drink Waste report (which you can read here) they stated:

‘The avoidable food and drink waste that was subsequently thrown away would have cost £12.5 billion across the UK, or £470 per household per year, at 2012 food prices’. 

So you heard it here first kids (Ok, Maybe not first) Food Waste = Wasted Money 

In the UK, we have registered the highest amount of food poverty within the last five years, with nearly a million people registering for emergency food supplies with the Trussell Trust Food Banks. In this day and age where food and living costs are on the rise but wages are not, we should all be watching our food waste and saving our pennies (along with the planet).

Photo Source:

Maybe one of the reasons we throw so much away is because we are desensitised to the amount of effort, resources and live stock that goes into creating our food. Would we be so willing to throw that piece of chicken away if we had to raise and kill the bird ourselves? Would we be so inclined to bin that broccoli if we had watched it grow from a seed? Maybe it's because we are so far away from the actual production of food that we forget how much effort goes into generating our sustenance. 

Food waste not only effects our pockets but it effects the environment too. Throwing products away that have used extensive resources to produce them means that food waste is impacting our carbon footprint as well. Cheese, milk and meat come from a large supply chain so we should think twice before we throw these products away so easily.

Before the food even reaches your cupboards, heck, before it even reaches the supermarkets, food waste is occurring at phenomenal levels, with estimates** of nearly 5.5 millions tonnes of food waste coming from manufacturers and food suppliers, which then heads straight to the land fill all because some 'imperfect' fruit and veg looks a bit 'odd'.

How can we avoid food waste?
Sometimes food waste is out of our hands, we don't all have the means to rally against the big cooperations to stop their food waste but there is so much we can do just from the comfort of our own homes.

Plan your meals

Yeah, I know it may sound boring to some of you but planning your meals for the week or a few days in advance means you will only buy what you need meaning you’ll have less products to throw away.

Use what you already have

Again, I know, I’m sounding like a nagging mum but if you use what you already have, you’re preventing food waste and saving yourself a few quid that can go towards that new Charlotte Tilbury foundation you’ve had your eye on (Can you tell I’m seriously lusting after that at the moment?

Reduce portion sizes

If I cook too much food, I’m more than happy to use that grub the next day for lunch or dinner but some people are not that open to food leftovers. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like left overs the next day, why not reduce your portion size and in turn, reduce food waste?

Sell by dates/Use by dates

Personally, I’ve never used these dates. I’d like to think as a human (supposedly the most superior creature on this planet) I’ve been equipped with the best tools to decipher whether or not food is edible. By all means, don’t take this as the gospel truth but I have a three step process to decide whether or not I should eat something:

1. How does it look? Good? Green? (Green is bad. Real bad. Run for the hills!) Normal? Content? Does everything look Ok? If there are no signs of visible mould or deterioration move on to step 2.
2. Smell. It can all go down hill from here, so prepare your nostrils! How does it smell? Like death? That’s bad, throw it away and burn it with fire. But seriously, does it smell ok? Normal? Maybe even a bit tasty? If so, move on to 3.
3. Taste. Now it’s time to give that sucker a try. I’m not asking you to scoff the whole lot, just a small bit enough to decipher whether or not you could die from eating this all.

And there you have it! You have successfully used your powers of elimination to discover if something is edible or not. Round of applause all round.
Now, those 3 steps may seem like complete common sense to some but I have met so many people who live by sell/use by dates and don't just use their sight, smell and taste to see if something is ok to eat. Remember, the less food you throw away is more money saved!

Buy directly from the farmers

Farmers markets are not just for a select few, you can get your butt down to them as well. Not only do you get to meet local food producers but you can get your hands on fresh fruit and veg, straight from the source. You can even inquire about buying the ugly fruit and veg for lower prices!

Smoothie it

Is that spinach wilting? Is that banana now more brown than yellow? Throw those bad boys in a smoothie maker and it’ll make no difference! Zero food waste and a healthy meal in one go.


Make use of your freezer. If you know you may not be able to eat all of your fresh fruit and veg before they start to wither away, check and see if you are able to freeze it and use it at a later date.

Dine at sustainable restaurants 

Believe it or not, there are restaurants out there that use sustainable produce or intercept food waste before it reaches the landfill. Save the Date cafe is an example of this new and exciting venture!

Ask to take your leftovers home

Out at a restaurant but unable to finish that big lovely plate of food? Instead of throwing the food away, why not ask for a doggy bag or better yet, bring your own! There is no shame is saving the planet but if you do feel a bit embarrassed, why not call the restaurant in advance and check to see if they are able to provide you with a doggy bag? A win all round!

Buy those imperfect beauties

If you don’t, who will?! Also, why not ask for a discount on these items from your supermarket! (If you don’t ask, you don’t get!)

This is a completely out of the ordinary post for me, so I hope I've done this subject justice. If you'd like to look into this subject more, there are links scattered throughout this page and also some below. More top tips on how to save food can be found here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject and if you have any other tips you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Interesting links


Please note: The photos with stats within them are not mine. I have used them for research purposes only and do not claim to have any right to them. I have provided links to the original source beneath each photo if you wish to research this topic further.


  1. That's such an interesting post! From when I was a child, I learned that we are not supposed to throw away food, because my mum is very conscious of these things and of course, it stuck with me and I follow these guidelines now as well! I'm not the most adventurous in the kitchen so it's very easy for me to go food shopping because I know exactly what I'll need in the following week.
    Your tips are great and I hope you can inspire some more people out there!

    1. Thank you my love! That's so good to hear that your mum was so conscious about food waste! Sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders ;) Thank you for taking the time to have a read!!! xx

  2. This is a great post! I've only recently become more conscientious about my food waste in the past few years and amazed at how much supermarkets throw away.

    Saskia /

    1. Thank you so much darling! That's so good you're aware of it nowadays, it's good to start at any age :) Honestly, it's ridiculous how much supermarkets throw away. Such a shame! x

  3. This is really informative. I think I'm pretty good with my food - I'll eat leftovers for days, and I don't use the best before/use by dates religiously. There was a girl in my university flat who would bin anything that was out of date, even if it looked perfectly fine and wasn't opened. (Like a big tub of strawberries - I was so angry!) I think best befores are a big problem.


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