Never has the phrase, ‘food for thought’ been more apt. We were optimistic that over the course of seven days, we could reduce our food waste & ultimately change our habits for the better.
Our Tesco shop arrived on the Sunday morning & we were good to go. But as we cleared space in the fridge for the new shop, we found quite a few bits out of date – & not the ‘it only went off yesterday, it’ll be fine’ kind of out of date. In the bin they went. Not the best start to the week.
Truth be told, after our meticulous meal planning to ensure minimal waste this week, we were surprised by how much still ended up in the bin. Half-a-punnet-of-raspberries-that-went-mouldy here, some defrosted-leftovers
-we-didn’t-finish-but-couldn’t-reheat-a-second-time there… How much have we thrown away in previous weeks when we weren’t really thinking about it?
And then there was Baby Girl. At only 8.5 months, if Baby Girl doesn’t like something, she won’t eat it. And that means waste. Aside from cheating & only giving her things I know she loves, I couldn’t think of a way round this for the challenge. Weaning proved frustrating as a result – & this isn’t counting the wasted pasta bake on my jeans & mango on my sleeve.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. So here’s my top tips for helping with your family’s food waste.
- Plan meals for the week when ordering the food shop (rather than just shoving the usuals in the basket or whatever’s on offer). This way you’ll know exactly what you have & what you need to use up.
- Once opened, baby pouches or jars last around 24 to 48 hours in the fridge (brand dependant, double check the label). One pouch is often too big for one sitting, so make sure you keep the rest for tomorrow, even if there’s only enough for a snack or a side accompaniment.
- If making your baby’s food yourself, plan your baby’s meals in parallel with your own, using the same veg or meat. With one pack of chicken thighs, we made mushroom & chicken casserole for our dinner, had a baby pot going beside our own making 4 baby portions & still managed to freeze a whole adult portion.
- Make your baby’s food in batches & freeze in mini portions. You can buy perfect-baby-portion-freezer-friendly tupperwares from most supermarkets but ice cube trays work just as well. Opt for a silicon ice cube tray to pop out your portions easily.
- If shopping online, double check the best before dates before you sign for your delivery. You don’t want stuff going off before you’ve had a chance to gobble it up. Send back items with short use by dates. (Our Tesco driver refunded our strawberries that were due to go off the following day but let us keep them anyway. He said they’d only get thrown away if he took them back & ‘half a punnet eaten was better than none’.)
- Freeze meat & fish as soon as you get it to avoid hitting the use by date before you’ve had a chance to cook it.
- However, buying pre-frozen meat & fish is better than freezing it fresh as it extends the lifetime & is frozen in a professional environment with fewer risks of bugs getting into the food.
- Box up your leftovers & either pop in the freezer or use for the next day’s lunch. (Why not play the Other Half’s favourite game, Freezer Roulette. Simply don’t label stuff in the freezer!)
Of course, plans change, things come up. For us, this weekend Baby Girl & I dashed up north to Sunderland to visit our Grandmo a bit last minute, so her dad had some extra food to eat up.
There’s room for improvement, especially with fruit & veg. But on the whole, we were pleased with our efforts & the phrase, ‘food for thought’ has never been more apt.