With the summer holidays now in full swing, many of us will be counting down the hours until we’re able to enjoy some time away and, hopefully, a little bit of sunshine.
Whether you’re travelling afar or staying a little closer to home, you’re probably familiar with that last-minute clear out of the fridge . How much food do you normally bin before you head out the door?
It would be a shame to waste the holiday food and drink, whether it’s pasta, ice cream or a nice glass of sangria. Similarly, we all need to value our ‘home’ food too and minimise what we throw out before we leave.
What we do with the contents of our fridge matters. As a nation, Scotland chucked out 600,000 tonnes of food during 2014. When we throw food in the bin we waste all the energy and resources that went into growing it, making it and transporting it.
What makes the situation even worse is when we throw it away in landfill, it emits methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. In the short-term methane is many times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
In fact, if food waste was a country it would be the third worst contributor to climate change in the world – behind only the US and China.
So, there would be a huge positive knock-on effect to the environment if we all wasted less food. All we need to do is buy a little less, use more of what we do buy, and store it properly.
Make sure your holiday is kind to the planet. Here are five tips to ensure the food you already have doesn’t spoil will you’re away.
Prepare some space in your freezer – in the days before you go, eat those chips and peas that have been taking up room. A little bit of planning will make wriggle room for those things that you just can’t finish before you go and won’t stay fresh in the fridge. Check this out; I had no idea you could freeze all this until I looked into it.
- Cooked pasta (best frozen slightly undercooked)
- Cooked rice
- Nuts (many people don’t realise nuts can go rancid due to the high levels of fat they contain)
- Flour - you can use it directly from the freezer
- Grated cheese
- Bananas (peeled)
- Eggs (cracked into small containers)
- Meat, both raw and cooked
2. Take a packed lunch – bread, cheese, cold meat and fruit can often be casualties of a food cull but if you think of the journey, whether it’s for eating in the departure lounge, on the train or in the car, a homemade sandwich and some fruit could keep a few pounds in your pocket and give you a little more to spend on your days away.
3. Make soup from spare veg – remember that first day back after your hols in previous years when you get home and there is nothing to eat? If you use the space in the freezer to store the soup it can lead to a quick filling meal that can be heated up in minutes with a microwave – whatever time you get home.
4. Buy less – in the hubbub of the week before your trip you might not be able to prepare the same number of meals as usual. Purchase fewer items in the week ahead and, if you do find you’re going to be short, make a meal of what’s sitting in the fridge. Get inspired here at Love Food Hate Waste Scotland, or other sites with recipes and ideas to make the most of those random foods in the fridge.
5. Pass it on – if you can’t use some food or fit it in the freezer, pass it on. It’s more than likely that friends or neighbours will be able to make use of your spare eggs or extra milk.
Some food waste can never be avoided so use a food caddy for egg shells, banana skins etc. Rather than ending up pumping out methane in landfill, food from caddies can go into an anaerobic digestion facility where the gases emitted as the food breaks down are captured and used to power homes. What’s left is recycled as fertilisers for our farms and compost for our gardens.
We can all do something about food waste. With a little bit of forward planning we could reduce its impact; protecting our home environment and also protecting all the other places we’d like to visit someday.