Five ways to reduce food waste this Zero Waste Week

A wooden surface with healthy food on it. Five ways to reduce food waste this Zero Waste Week.

Did you know it’s Zero Waste Week? The aim of this annual event is to get people to reduce waste and rethink rubbish as resources. Every year there’s a different topic and, this time, it’s food waste.

I like to think that we let very little go to waste in our house but, last week, I put that to the test by making a note of anything that ended up in the bin.

We did pretty well on the whole – half a small carton of pâté went the way of the warrior as well as a couple of apples from our garden.

There were a few other near misses, so here’s how we managed to use almost everything without any significant waste.

Have a reliable fridge

Had I kept a note of food waste a few weeks ago, it wouldn’t make good reading. Our fridge chose the hottest time of year to give up the ghost. We had to pour away half a bottle each of whole and semi-skimmed milk more than once. We also had to bin a whole pack of yoghurts and a few slices of ham. So, in short, my first tip is to have decent storage!

Nothing has gone off ahead of time since we got our new fridge. It’s also much more energy-efficient than its predecessor, which the previous owners of our house got almost a decade ago. On a side note, I repurposed the units that housed it as shelving so reduced material waste too!

Keep a close eye on dates

As we don’t drive, we’ve always relied on online grocery shopping. It has a great many advantages, but the lottery of best before and use by dates isn’t one of them! Particularly of late, given increased demand and rather limited stocks.

With this in mind, we check everything as soon as it arrives and quickly plan our meals based on dates. Anything with a short date goes straight in the freezer for later in the week.

Create an Eat Me First shelf

I have to admit that this – courtesy of the team behind Zero Waste Week – is new one on me, but it goes hand in hand with my previous tip. Setting up an Eat Me First shelf is a great way to help modify eating habits to prevent waste.

It doesn’t take long to rearrange your fridge to accommodate one. Plus, if you have younger kids, there’s the added advantage that they won’t be able to help themselves to newer items – which are always the things they want most – on higher shelves!

Get creative with leftovers

With five of us in the house, there’s very little in the way of leftovers anyway – indeed, youngest seems to think of me as a dustbin dad. But, on the rare occasions that there are, we usually put them to good use.

Any leftovers from Sunday roasts go into a stir fry or curry on Monday. Meanwhile, fruit that is perfectly edible but not as visually appealing to the kids goes in smoothies. This, by the way, is a great way of sneaking in ingredients younger ones are reluctant to try!

Never shop while hungry!

This one might sound silly, but I’ve fallen foul of it plenty of times. We’re all familiar with the phrase “your eyes are bigger than your belly” and it tends to raise a laugh more than anything. But it’s so true – even when ordering online instead of shopping in person.

So, much in the same way as you should never promise anything when happy or email while angry, never shop while hungry! You’ll inevitably end up with a random assortment of food that may not get eaten and go off as a result.

Zero Waste Week runs from 7-11 September and there are plenty of ways to join in. Why not check out the dedicated blog or share your own tips via #ZeroWasteWeek on Twitter?


  1. Anna Pitt

    What a great point about making your Eat Me First shelf lower down for young children so they can’ reach the new stuff! Thanks for that tip.

  2. John Adams

    I love the idea of an Eat Me shelf and superb advice about not shopping while hungry. I’m now wondering what disastrous shopping decisions I have made in the past while hangry!

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