Author: Francesca - Mr Lee's
In the past few months, our UK team have had to address a surplus of stock as a result of the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt to the travel sector activity. From planning donations and supporting key health workers to helping food charities and communities and offering products at reduced and clearance prices on our website, the team have tried to do as much as they could in order to avoid having to throw away perfectly good food.
All this got us thinking about the amount of food that goes to waste every year around the world. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) around 133 billion pounds of food waste was generated in 2010 in the US and The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted globally each year.
Paying more attention to our food consumption habits is extremely important because throwing away food 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. For this reason, we at Mr Lee’s would like to offer some practical tips to help us all improve our habits around food.
1. Planning is essential
Organization is key and it can really help you to reduce the quantities of food you bin. You can try meal planning for the week and make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to prepare those dishes. When grocery shopping, whether in store or online, make an effort to stick to the list and not deviate from it as it’s quite easy to end up overbuying.
2. Trips to the store
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 stores 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.
3. Store cupboard foods are essential
Having a well-stocked pantry 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 and Mr Lee’s Congee are the perfect products 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.
4. Don’t throw away your leftovers
We’ve all been guilty of preparing 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.
5. 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 locate them easily in the future.
6. Use by dates and best before dates
Confusion around dates on packaged foods contributes to around 20 percent of food waste in American homes. When it comes to reading the dates on the products you buy, it is important to know what each one means. The best if used by 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.
We tend to throw the stems, ends and peels of ingredients but blending them into an amazing tasting smoothie is one way of not discarding them. Add some vegetable peels, broccoli stalks and make the most of the tops of carrots and strawberries.
8. Get cooking!
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.
9. Learn how to store
Storing food adequately is essential and it will help you make fruit and veggies last longer. Make a point of learning 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.
10. Donate to food banks
Why not donate items you are not going to consume to food banks and charities? Last year we partnered with the Ludacris Foundation and donated over 1,000 cups to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Ronald McDonald House Charities to help children facing hunger in the U.S. Find your local food bank and help those who struggle with hunger.
11. Download apps to help you
Apps can be extremely useful and there are several out there that can help you reduce the quantity of food waste you produce. No Waste allows you to track, organise and manage the food you have at home with its food inventory, expiration reminders and meal-planning features, and Olio connects you with neighbours so that you can share spare food that isn’t going to be used for free. 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.
Olio also offers to help companies donate surplus food to the community. Our team back in the UK have recently teamed up with them to make 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.
*We don’t receive any commissions on any links to third party products, resources or companies.