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10 Tips For Achieving A Zero-Waste Kitchen

10 Tips For Achieving A Zero-Waste Kitchen

Did you know that the UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food every year? Shockingly, nearly 70% of this waste comes from our homes, especially our kitchens. That’s a massive amount of food, most of which could have been eaten. Reducing food waste is not just good for the environment but also for your wallet. Here are 10 essential tips to help you create a zero-waste kitchen.

1.) Stop Peeling Your Vegetables

A great yet simple way to reduce food waste is by avoiding unnecessary peeling. Peeling vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips isn’t necessary as their skins are edible and nutritious. For tougher peels, like lemon or ginger, try reusing them in other ways. For example, lemon peel can be used to sanitise surfaces, whilst ginger peel can be used to brew ginger tea. Yum!

If you still have some leftover peels, we recommend composting them. This will give them, plus other leftover foods such as fruit, vegetables, or eggshells, a second life without ever seeing the inside of your rubbish bin. Composting is a zero-waste kitchen’s best friend!

Carrot Peels

2.) Reuse Your Coffee Grounds

Believe it or not, coffee grounds can be used for more than just making a revitalising cup of coffee. So, once you’ve used them, there’s no need to throw them away. They can instead be reused as plant fertiliser, pest repellent, or even in beauty treatments like homemade face masks and exfoliators.

Coffee grounds with spoon of coffee beans

3.) Never Throw Away Fruit or Veg

Overripe or damaged fruits and vegetables can still be used in various delicious recipes. For example, overripe bananas are perfect for banana bread! 

Check out these ‘Top Ten Ways to Use Up Overripe Fruit‘ from The Kitchn for more recipe ideas.

Overripe bananas

4.) Make The Most Out Of Your Bread

Nearly 11% of the food we throw away is some form of bread or pastry. This is often because they hit the bin as soon as they turn stale. Bread wastage can be prevented by buying only what you need, and using stale bread in recipes like breadcrumbs or croutons. Explore 19 fantastic ways to use stale bread in these recipes from serious eats.

Find it difficult to buy the perfect amount of bread? Freeze the bread you know you won’t eat before it turns stale or mouldy. This can then be defrosted or toasted as needed!

Selection of bread

5.) Plan Your Meals

Planning meals and making a shopping list based on what you already have can significantly reduce food waste. So before you write your list, be sure to check your cupboards to ensure you don’t buy things you already have. Then, stick to your list and avoid buying non-essential items.

Top Tip: Never go food shopping hungry. You’ll be more likely to pick up extra snacks you don’t need.

6.) Store Your Food Correctly

Proper storage is crucial for extending the life of your food. Each food item must be stored in its ideal conditions to remain fresh for as long as possible. Check any packaging that your food comes in for storage instructions, and be sure to follow them. For example, many condiments or sauces should be refrigerated once opened.

Food storage

7.) Take Your Lunch To Work

Instead of buying lunch, use leftovers. We throw away tons of edible food in our kitchens every year. By doing our best to use and not throw away leftovers, we help create a zero-waste kitchen whilst saving money too. UK workers spend an average of £1,092 a year on lunch, which can be reduced by taking home-cooked meals.


8.) Buy Condiments and Spices Wisely

To minimize waste, buy condiments and spices in small quantities and only when needed. Whether you throw away a few spoonfuls of jam or half a jar of leftover tomato sauce, it all adds up. The motto here is to use everything and store all condiments carefully to ensure they are kept fresh and edible.

Bottled condiments

9.) Cook Just Enough

Cooking the right amount of food can be challenging. How many times have you cooked too much rice or spaghetti?! Using portion calculators, like this one from Love Food Hate Waste, can help you find the perfect quantities. This is a great way to cut down on food wastage, and save you money!

Weighing pasta on a scale

10.) Best Before and Display Until Dates

Don’t throw away your food based on best before or display until dates. Display until labels are only for shop staff, not shoppers. Meanwhile, best before dates have nothing to do with food safety. These foods will still be safe to eat after this date, however may have lost some of the flavour, texture, or quality. 

Only use caution with use-by dates, which do refer to food safety. However, you can still freeze food before its use-by date to extend its life. Just remember to consume it within 24 hours after defrosting.

Woman looking at food product

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce kitchen waste, save money, and contribute to a healthier environment. Remember, every small step counts towards a zero-waste lifestyle. What changes will you start making today?

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