We don't want to get you down, but winter has arrived. We've all felt the nip in the air. Soon, there will be the first frost and heading home from work or college in the dark. Fortunately, there's good food to help us through the cold weather. Unfortunately, there's also a fair bit of food waste in the winter. What can you do about it? Well, it turns out you can do quite a bit, actually. Here, are our top three tips for cutting back on your winter food waste.
1. Draw up a strict meal planner/shopping list
Ok, so we know that organisation may not be your forte, but we’ve tried to combine it with an activity that everyone loves – list making. Drawing up a good list makes you feel like you’re getting a lot done, even though you’re actually only writing down the things you still have to do. It’s great. This list will be different though. This is the list that will help you cut down food waste to a tiny fraction of what it was before.
The key to cutting down on food waste is only buying what you need. If you’re living away from home for the first time it’s also the best way to save money on your food budget. The best way to do this is planning your meals on a day-to-day basis. This may sound dull and regimented but it’s not. Promise. In fact, you can get far more imaginative with a meal planner than you would otherwise. Bury your head in some recipe books and you can come up with some cracking dinner ideas. No more plain rice and tinned tomato dinners because the cupboards are bare – you’re going to be prepared!
Once you’ve planned your meals for the week, draw up a shopping list that contains only the ingredients you need. Stick to it. You’ll be amazed at how little you waste.
2. Make the most of leftovers
Winter is coming! So, we’re all going to need to rely on a little comfort food if we’re to get through the short days, grim weather, and invading White Walker armies, to see spring come around again. Generally, winter comfort cooking results in our meals getting bigger and heartier. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean there’s a danger our waste will increase, too. Fortunately, all it takes is some kitchen confidence and imaginative cooking and you can have your cake and eat it too (for leftovers the next day).
If you're thinking local – and who isn't trying to cut down on their food miles! – there's a good chance you'll be eating a few winter veggies, so why not whip up a leftover Sunday lunch potato hash or a leftover winter vegetable soup? If you’re a student living in halls or in shared accommodation why not get together with your house mates and combine your leftovers for a waste less feast?
3. When it starts freezing outside, get freezing inside
When the temperatures really begin to drop, it’s all about keeping your tootsies warm and your foodstuffs frozen. Few people realise how many different foods can be preserved in the freezer and saved from being wasted.
Milk can be frozen (but make sure you pour a little out first). There’s an argument that toast is better when toasted from frozen. Bananas can be frozen and then mashed into a delicious sweet. Cooked meats can be frozen and enjoyed at a later date in stews, curries, or risottos. If you want to make the most of your student loan you can even be super thrifty and cook large batches and freeze in individual portions.
If you're considering throwing something out, check first to see whether it can be frozen. Chances are it can!