1. Only buy what you need
Perishable food like fresh fruit and vegetables, ready meals, or dairy can often end up in the bin if they spoil before we get around to eating them. Keep an eye on what you're buying and throwing away. If you're lettuce is limp at the end of each week, it's a sign not to bother buying it. If your milk keeps going off, maybe you can get a smaller carton.
Unplanned impulse purchases of perishable foods can also turn out to be wasteful. You might buy something just because it's on offer, but it's a waste of food and money if it goes off before you can eat it.
2. Learn to take what's available
You head to the shop to buy apples, but there's none left. So take a look at what is available that will do instead. Pears? Bananas? Maybe even go wild and try a persimmon?
By being flexible and taking what is available, you’ll be reducing food waste – otherwise, there is a good chance that perishable food will end up in the bin after closing time. This applies to foods in the reduced section too – otherwise they will almost certainly be thrown away.
3. Avoid ‘to-go’, and do it yourself
From sandwiches to sushi, most supermarkets now offer a huge range of 'to-go' snacks. The disadvantage of items like pre-peeled and sliced fruit is the large amount of plastic waste – and also the fact that perishable goods quickly end up in the bin.
If you have time, it’s best to prepare something at home in the evening or morning and take it to the office – it's cheaper than to-go snacks from the fridge and you also save on plastic waste.
Why not scour Pinterest or TikTok for lunch ideas?
4. Buy regional and seasonal
Make the choice to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season and, ideally, local. Firstly, this is good for the climate and the environment, because the carbon emissions from transport distances are reduced. Secondly, there is less danger of food being damaged during the long transportation and consequently being thrown away.
5. Learn to love wonky veg
Do we really all expect perfectly formed carrots and cucumbers in one size, or flawless apples at the supermarket? Potatoes, strawberries or tomatoes do not taste any less good if they have a slightly strange shape. And yet we throw away millions of tonnes of food every year for this very reason.
It’s worth trying special offers for explicitly 'wonky' vegetables in organic meal boxes and at supermarkets. By buying these products, customers send a signal to the industry that they by no means only demand flawless products – nor do they want everything that does not pass the beauty contest to be thrown away at harvest time.
6. Correct storage
If stored properly, many foods will keep for longer and will not have to be thrown away before their time.
You can also experiment with methods of preserving fruit and vegetables that previous generations used. Cookery enthusiasts might be excited to try things like pickling and fermentation – the results can be both tasty and climate-friendly.
7. Shelf life is just a number
Most foodstuffs can be kept for much longer than their best-before date, some even for many years. The best before date is about quality and not safety – the food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Dry pasta, rice and pulses can be eaten for years after their best before.
Similarly, rather than simply relying on a use-by date, use all your senses to check whether yoghurt, eggs or milk are really spoiled.
8. Sharing food
Have you bought too much in one go or can't prepare the food before it goes off? Then share it with others!
Invite friends over and cook together, or use platforms such as Olio to pass on or exchange surplus food.
9. Creative cooking
Cooking with leftovers, instead of throwing them in the bin, is a very effective way of reducing food waste. Get creative yourself or get inspiration from cookbooks written especially for cooking with leftovers, such as ‘Love Your Leftovers’ by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. There’s also plenty of online recipes for using up your own leftovers.
10. Less wastage from restaurants and stores
In the Too Good to Go app, restaurants and shops offer dishes that are left over shortly before closing time, for a reduced cost. How about organising a takeaway in this way?
Don’t forget that – if you’re eating out – you can also ask for a doggy bag in a restaurant to take home, if you can't finish everything.