I don’t waste food – or maybe I do?

For many people, the issue of food waste gnaws at their conscience quite unpleasantly. Because on the one hand, we know how incredibly wasteful it is to dispose of food when 690 million people are suffering from hunger. And on the other hand, week after week we throw away food forgotten in the refrigerator and pantry. Around twelve million tons of food are disposed of as waste every year in Germany alone.

What can be done about it?

Many of us fill our shopping carts out of pure “buying desire” and not because we need it. At home, the food disappears into the depths of drawers and the refrigerator, where we forget about it and eventually dispose of it. The problem: Often the food we buy doesn’t fit in with our plans, it doesn’t combine well with what we already have, or we buy things in stock that we rarely use – because they are so cheap at the moment. 

The first step: precise planning

This kind of shopping is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of valuable food. A simple meal plan and shopping list is the first step to changing our shopping habits.  After all, most of us aren’t going to the supermarket, market or grocery store for the first time. We’ve been shopping in a certain pattern for years. Maybe we’ve even picked it up from our childhood home, maybe there are old habits behind it that we’re not even aware of.

reduction of food waste

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many people do I want to feed? 
  2. How often do I cook during the week? Are there days on which fixed rituals such as eating out are scheduled? Or are there days of the week when all family members eat in the cafeteria or kindergarten? 
  3. Are there foods that are not tolerated? Are there allergies? Have you chosen a special way of life?
  4. Now take a close look at your pantry and the contents of your refrigerator: What do you have unnecessary amounts of? What spoils regularly? What is thrown away?

Step 2: Shopping

Actually it is quite simple: Buy only what you really need! No large quantities of offers, because it is just so cheap and also no food, which you would like to “try out” sometime. Your shopping list is your master plan.
Often we buy foods that come in package sizes that are way too big. If you bake a lot, the leftover flour is good to use up next time. But what about those small portions of poppy seeds, sunflower seeds or special dried fruits?

reduction of food waste

Look to buy them at an unpackaged store, at a supermarket filling station, or at the market. Because here you can fill or get packed exactly the amount you need with containers you bring with you. At the fresh food counter, too, many retailers pack sausage and meat in their own containers, so here, too, you don’t have to resort to packaged food (in the wrong size). And it saves unnecessary packaging waste, too!

Step 3: Storage

Every food has a special preference when it comes to storage: bread and rolls should always be packed in an air-permeable way, otherwise mold will develop. The optimal storage location for potatoes is 4 to 5 degrees cool, moist, dark and airy. Oils should be stored in a dark and normal temperature place (not in the refrigerator).
The closed original packaging of many foods is not always optimal for perfect storage, because a lot of vermin can crawl through paper bags, for example.

reduction of food waste

It is perfect if you decant your dry food and fill it into containers. You should make sure that these meet three requirements: They should be transparent, close tightly, and make the best use of cabinet space. They should close tightly, of course, because that’s how you keep out unwanted bugs.
And a word about moths: Most of the time, you bring the pests home with you from shopping: in the cereal, in the flour, in the shopping bag, in the pet food … This happens quite quickly, especially with organic products, and has nothing to do with a lack of hygiene.

Step 4: Stay cool

Basically, you should only store food in the refrigerator that can also be found in the supermarket in the refrigerated section. In addition, it makes sense to put certain foods whose packages you have opened in the refrigerator afterwards. This is usually noted on the jars or containers.

reduction of food waste

Especially with vegetables, fruit and herbs it happens quickly that they mold in the refrigerator. Special storage boxes also help here to make the food last longer: With a honeycomb structure and an integrated ventilation system, they ensure that the humidity inside is optimal. For air circulation, a sieve basket is placed slightly elevated. By the way, ethylene is often responsible for faster spoilage of fruits and vegetables. These boxes have a Fresh Filter system that absorbs ethylene. This keeps vegetables and fruits that are in the box fresher longer.

reduction of food waste

Step 5: Keep an eye and nose open!

If the best before date (BBD) on a food product has passed, it doesn’t mean that the product is no longer edible. Simply open the expired yogurt, look at it and taste it instead of throwing it away unchecked. Usually, your eyes, nose and sense of taste will help you figure out if the product is still good. Be careful with the use-by date on fish and meat, though – this should usually be respected because it has an expiration date!

What else?

There are countless other ideas to avoid food waste. When going on vacation, simply give away food scraps to neighbors, or when chopping vegetables, don’t cut too much off – the stem from broccoli, for example, tastes just as delicious as the florets.
Keep leftovers from meals well sealed in the refrigerator and ask for a “doggy bag” more often when visiting a restaurant.

reduction of food waste

In our time, when food is always and everywhere available, the appreciation for our food has been lost in many cases. Let’s treat them responsibly again!