Cara Cunningham, MINDI, Community Dietitian
The EU estimate that 88 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in Europe and this is estimated to cost us all €143 billion. Think about what we could have if we had access to this money! It is not just the economic cost but also think about all the natural resources that are being used to grow, make, package, transport and store all this food before we chuck it in the bin! So what can we do. Here are a few suggestions to help us buy less, throw away less and save more!
· Seems a bit obvious but check out what you have in your house already – especially around perishable foods.
· Make a list – think about what meals you are going to have that week, list out what you need.
· Eat before you go – supermarkets are set up to tempt you to buy more than you need, hunger will impact on your ability to stick to your list!
· Consider shopping alone – again if you have the kids with you, it can make shopping a bit of a nightmare, children will stray and you will stray from your list!
At the shop
· Golden rule - stick to your list.
· If there are special offers ask yourself, when is the use by date, can the product be frozen. Ultimately the question you need to ask yourself is ‘do you really need this food!’
· If you are cooking for one/two it might be better to buy loose fruit and vegetables.
When you get home
· Put fresh food away ASAP, and make sure to store food as the label suggests.
· If you have bought in bulk, things like chicken breast, separate what you are not going to eat straightaway and freeze in ‘usable’ portions, and freeze straightaway.
When you are cooking
· Always measure rice, spaghetti and pasta before cooking to make sure there is enough and not too much for everyone!
· If food is close to the use by date and cannot be frozen; cooking it can extend the storage life of it by a few days. Just remember to cool and refrigerate as quickly as you can.
· Remember, even limp, bendy vegetables can make a great tasting soup. Squishy fruit often makes the best smoothies.
It all starts with us looking at how we can shop smarter to reduce what we throw out. Its win, win – if we buy less we save; if we reduce our waste- we save. For more information and great tip check out www.greenhome.ie For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact: The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].