Author: Francesca - Mr Lee's Team
Before 2020 came to a close, we at Mr Lee’s had to address a surplus of stock which was dedicated to the travel sector as the coronavirus pandemic had forced airlines to put a halt to their activity. We didn’t really want to leave these products unused and throw away perfectly good food so we had a team discussion and decided to donate a big part to support key workers and help food charities and communities across the UK as well as offering some of the stock at clearance prices on our website.
All this got us thinking about the amount of food that goes to waste every year around the world. Research carried out by WRAP shows that 4.5 million tonnes of household food is thrown away a year in the UK and The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted globally each year.
Throwing food away is not only to squander money but it’s also a harmful activity for the environment, contributing to climate change, world poverty and water shortage, amongst many other things. Paying more attention to our food consumption habits is extremely important and that’s why we at Mr Lee’s would like to offer some practical tips which can help us all change our habits around food.
Organisation is the key
Planning ahead is essential and it can really help you to reduce the quantities of food you bin. Try to think of the meals you’ll be having throughout the week and make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to put those dishes together. On your trip to the supermarket or whilst browsing an online store, make an effort to stick to the list and not deviate from it as it’s quite easy to end up overbuying.
Trips to the supermarket
Bulk buying has shown to lead to more food waste and turns out being more expensive in the long run. However, it is not advisable to increase your trips to the supermarket in the current situation. Rather than doing a bulk buy once a week, limit your store visits or online orders to the minimum by making sure you only do a shop when you’ve consumed most of your food.
Store cupboard foods are essential
Having well-stocked kitchen cupboards is another way of reducing food waste. Not only does it help you save money and time, but it also makes the task of planning and cooking your meals a lot simpler. Mr Lee’s Noodles are the perfect product to keep in your store cupboards if you are looking for a quick, fuss-free and healthy lunchtime snack. Our range of products are packed with real freeze-dried meat and vegetables, contain no additives and are low in sugar and fats.
Use up leftovers
We’ve all been guilty of making too much food at some point. If this is the case, keep the leftovers in a container in the fridge and save yourself a day of cooking later in the week! Make a point of scheduling a day to eat them as most people tend to forget and end up with food that has gone bad.
Make use of your freezer!
Freezing is one of the best ways to preserve food and there’s a long list of ingredients that freeze well, from herbs and nuts to lasagne and soups, as well as grated cheese and bread in all its forms. Whether it’s freezing your leftovers or your batch cooked meals, this will save you a lot of time during the week. Remember to mark it with the contents and the date as this will help you in the future.
Use by dates and best before dates
When it comes to reading the dates on the products you buy, it is important to know what each one means. The best before date is very frequently misinterpreted as the expiry date but in reality it is used as a guideline based on the quality of the product. This term refers to the possibility of a loss of quality in the item, which doesn’t mean the product is not safe to eat. Sell by dates indicate the recommended time goods should be available for sale on shelves. In these cases, use your best judgement to decide whether a product is suitable to consume. On the other hand, expiration dates or use by dates tell consumers the last day a product is safe to consume and therefore it shouldn’t be used once it has perished. Follow the guidelines of 'look, smell, taste - don’t waste' before you throw anything away.
We don’t tend to use the stems, ends and peels of ingredients and they normally end up in the bin. Blending them into a delicious tasting smoothie is a way of using those items that would otherwise be discarded. Add some vegetable peels, broccoli stalks and make the most of the tops of carrots and strawberries. Or perhaps you have a pet who might like these? Some of the our team's dogs will quite happily polish off the peels and ends, especially Bean who is a big fan of carrots!
What better way is there of using up excess food than making homemade stock? Chuck in all the parts of veggies you would normally throw and make sure you use up the bones and carcass of the chicken you cooked for your Sunday roast. You will not only be reducing your food waste but you will end up with a comforting and delicious-tasting soup.
Learn how to store
Knowing how to store food adequately is essential and it will help you make fruit and veggies last longer. Take the time to learn where each food should be stored, whilst some are perfect at room temperature, others are better when placed in the fridge. Labelling jars and boxes can also be of great help, check out what @staceysolomon does with her fridge and pantry.
Donate to food banks
Another great way of not letting food go to waste is by donating items you are not going to consume to food banks and charities. Throughout the pandemic, we at Mr Lee’s have donated over 47,000 cups of noodles to hospitals and foodbanks across the UK and Australia in order to help those who most need it in these challenging times.
Download apps to help you
Nowadays you can find apps for everything and anything and there are several ones out there that can help you reduce the quantity of food waste you produce. The food inventory, expiration reminders and the meal-planning features in No Waste allow you to track, organise and manage the food you have at home and Olio is an app which connects neighbours so that spare food that isn’t going to be used can be shared for free instead of being disposed of. This app can continue to be used during the coronavirus pandemic but make sure you take all the necessary precautions and comply with government guidelines when arranging to share items.
We’ve recently teamed up with the guys over at Olio as they also offer to help companies donate surplus food to the community. This is a great way of making sure our food ends up in bellies and not bins, supporting local families and community groups and reducing our impact on the environment.
By putting these tips into practice not only will you be tackling food waste and saving money but you will also be helping the environment. Why not start off by buying some store cupboard supplies? Head to the Mr Lee’s online shop to stock up on great-tasting healthy noodles.
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