Food waste makes up a significant proportion of all Somerset household waste. Reducing food waste is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as saving you money.
Analysis in 2023 showed that around 21% of the contents of the average Somerset refuse bin (by weight) was food waste. Of the 16,090 tonnes in Somerset’s refuse bins, 75% (12,067 tonnes) could have been eaten and 45% (7,240 tonnes) was thrown away still in its packaging. The remaining 25% was food that would not normally be eaten.
It is estimated that the average UK household could save £15 per week, or £780 per year, by reducing food waste. Find out more from Wrap online.
Love Food Hate Waste and Hubbub are great online resources for reducing food waste. Some food waste is inevitable, such as egg shells, banana skins and tea bags. Home composting makes the most of such “waste” to benefit our gardens.
Most Somerset residents have a kerbside food collection service that takes all food to process it into energy and a soil improver.
Some simple steps for reducing food waste
- Stocktake and meal plan – Know what food you have and what needs eating first. Then make a meal plan for a week or fortnight so you stay within your budget and can batch cook, use up all ingredients close to their use-by dates.
- Make a shopping list – Based on the meal plan and kitchen stocktake, and stick to it, avoiding impulse buys or shopping when hungry.
- Cook from scratch – To make full use of all ingredients, use fruit and veg ‘from root to tip’ where possible, scrubbing instead of peeling or using up the peelings for other meals or to make stock for soups or stews.
- Make the most of leftovers – There are all sorts of creative recipes to make use of leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste offer some great examples.
- Store well – Making the most of your fridge and freezer to extend the shelf-life of your food at home. Fridges need space for cold air to circulate around their contents and should be set at 0-5C (many are too hot so food goes off faster); freezers should be -18C. Defrost frozen foods in the fridge. Batch cooking and freezing can reduce waste, as can freezing any unexpected leftovers.
Freeze more foods
It’s not just the usual ice cream and frozen peas that can be frozen, many foods can be saved for later in the freezer, including:
- Bread – Use from frozen as toast or make sandwiches for work, by lunchtime they will be defrosted.
- Eggs – Beat into a mixture or freeze whites and yolks separately. Defrost in the fridge. Add salt (for savoury) or sugar (for sweet) to stop yolks going lumpy.
- Milk – Freeze as soon as possible and thaw in the fridge. Plastic containers are okay for freezing milk in, but the milk will expand, so pour out a small amount to allow for this.
- Cheese – Try grating hard cheeses before freezing and use as toppings on pizza or shepherd’s pie from frozen. Stilton can be frozen without grating.
- Fruit – Slice and freeze lemons then use them straight from the freezer in iced drinks.
- Cooked meat (such as chicken or turkey) – Thaw in the fridge and use as normal, in casseroles, curries and stews.
- Potatoes – Parboil and freeze them for later, thaw and roast. Mashed potato freezes well. Remember to portion before freezing.
- Yoghurt – Pots can be placed straight in the freezer but the yoghurt will expand, so make sure there is enough space in the pot for this. Defrost and use in smoothies or straight from frozen.