SHWI member and blogger, Ros Arksey has written about the recent Love Food Hate Waste course organised for our members for her food blog, Nibbly Pig. She's kindly allowed us to post it below....
Love Food, Hate Waste
I love food and always try to plan my meals and make the most of leftovers, whether that is putting them in the freezer or turning them into lunches for work. As you can imagine, I was very enthusiastic about attending this Love Food, Hate Waste workshop hosted for our Seven Hills WI group.
Peter Hellawell from WRAP delivered the session at the Showroom and explained how we can all learn to waste less food, save money and pick up useful tips along the way.
Here’s a bit of background for you…
‘Love Food, Hate Waste was launched in 2007 and raises awareness of the need to reduce food waste and helps us all take action to tackle it. It shows that by doing some easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which will ultimately benefit our purses and the environment too.’ Love Food, Hate Waste website
Sheffield is part of their 10 cities campaign which means there are lots of awareness-raising activities going on, like this workshop, to get the message out there to help reduce waste. Sheffield was chosen due to its high population and the fact that we have higher than average waste levels.
We started the session in an interactive style with Peter asking us to raise our hands if we love food. Lots of hands went up. Then he asked, ‘who hates waste?’ Again all hands were raised. So we quickly established that we were a crowd with an appetite to learn.
Peter set the scene with some hard-hitting facts about food waste.
· UK Households waste around £12.5 billion worth of food and drink each year
· On average 4.2 million tonnes of the food that is wasted is avoidable
· Food waste costs the average household £470 per year
· The most commonly wasted products are fresh vegetables, salad, fruit and bakery items.
The conversation and activities were then focused on recognising what we do now, could we do anything better and what tips could be helpful for the future.
Planning and being organised seemed to be at the heart of reducing waste. For example, plan your meals, think about portions, utilise leftovers and keep a check on use by dates.
For example, if you are tempted for a buy one, get one free, then consider if you will use the products or would you be better sharing it with a friend or family. Think about what you already have in your cupboards, do you need to buy more food? Try out practical tips to make food last longer, like adding a damp piece of kitchen roll to an open bag of salad, this will give it a couple more days freshness. If you have broccoli that has wilted, put it into a glass of water or bowl and this will help it crisp up.
Know your dates. Use-by dates are about food safety and generally when you must use the item. Best-before, is when it is the most suitable time to eat it and is all about quality.
Sell-by or display until are shop led and is an internal guide for shop staff, as consumers we don’t need to take notice of these dates.
Consider storage to get the most from food. Eggs like a constant temperature, they don’t have to be in the fridge but this is the best place for most fruit to make it last longer. Don’t put your bread in there though, this will make it go stale quicker – keep it in a bread bin if you have one. Alternatively, just get slices out of the freezer the night before you need them, which is what I do.
**5 degrees is the optimum fridge temperature.
Love your freezer. We learnt that you can freeze eggs if they are separated, remember to make a note of how many whites you have added together, as when it comes to defrosting you might struggle to work this out. You can freeze soft cheeses like brie and yoghurts; if you stick ice lolly sticks into the yoghurt tubs this will give you frozen yoghurts for the kids or you. Remember to label what you are freezing, we are all probably guilty of having some mystery frozen ‘surprise’ that we get out to defrost. A sharpie pen was suggested as something to invest in to label up items. You can even get technical and make a spreadsheet to track what you have in and how long it has been there.
**Freezers operate best ¾ full.
These are a selection of the facts and key tips that we went through on the night. There are lots of useful resources on the Love Food, Hate Food website, go check it out.
It certainly got me thinking about what else I could do and when I got home, two peppers, half an onion, a lime and some ginger were all chopped or sliced and put in the freezer, as I knew I would not use them while they were at their best. I now have a piece of paper on my fridge with the meals I am cooking for the week and a reminder of what needs using up from the freezer.
Thanks to Peter for an informative session. I’d encourage you all to see how you can do your bit to make a difference to the planet and your pocket.