Which 3 foods do we waste the most at home?

Did you know?

  • One-third of all edible food produced across the world never gets eaten.1
  • Globally, food waste is responsible for 22 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – that’s four times more than all aeroplane flights put together.2
  • 70% of UK food waste happens at home3, so each of us can do our bit to save food and protect the planet.

With thanks to Love Food Hate Waste for providing us with inspiration and practical tips.


3 easy wins…

In this post we share the 3 foods that get binned in the greatest quantities at home, and our top tips for making the most of these foods – so that we can feed bellies, not bins!

1. Fresh potatoes

Potatoes are food we waste in the greatest quantities at home. If we could avoid this wastage, it would prevent 1,700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from being released.4

How to store potatoes: In a cool, dry, dark place and away from onions. We find they last a long time when stored loose in the fridge.

Can you freeze them? Yes! Wash, chop and parboil potatoes for 5 minutes to kill off enzymes that make them go off, then freeze in meal-sized portions. You can make roasties by roasting frozen potatoes directly from the freezer! Cooked potatoes and mash can also be frozen.

Top tips for avoiding waste: Buy them loose (to avoid getting more than you can eat) and eat the skins. Did you know that about half the dietary fibre in a potato is in the skin?

Leftover potato recipes

Bubble and squeak – Fry cooked potatoes with chopped vegetables (carrots, cabbage, sweetcorn etc.), and garlic, salt and pepper – top with an egg or grated dairy/vegan cheese.

Chuck them in: Add mashed and boiled potatoes to soups, stews, omelettes and curries (like dum aloo, pictured).

Potato salad – Mix boiled potatoes with mayonnaise, lemon juice, smoked paprika, chives, red onion, capers, pickles and olives – maybe even a boiled egg!


2. Bread

Second on the list is bread. Every day, 1 million loaves of bread are thrown away in UK homes.5 A year’s worth of wasted bread slices, laid end to end, could circle the Earth from pole-to-pole 28 times!6

How to store it: In a cool, dark and dry place, like a bread bin or cupboard, in its original packaging.

Beyond ‘best before’: Most bread and bakery products can be eaten up to a week after the best before date. Check it for mould and don’t eat it if any is present. It’s a good idea to clean your bread bin or cupboard to get rid of mould spores.

Can you freeze it? Yes! Frozen sliced bread can go straight into the toaster. You can also prepare a whole loaf-load of sandwiches for the family in one go and freeze them in individual containers. Most fillings freeze well, apart from salad and tomatoes.

Bread pudding made from stale bread

Using up stale bread:

  1. Freshen stale bread by putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds.
  2. Rehydrate dry loaves, bagels and pittas by sprinkling them with some water and putting them in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Stale bread still makes a great toastie. Butter or oil the sides, place on the pan or grill and cook until golden brown.
  4. Make ‘pizza’! Slice bread and spread it with pesto or a mix of tomato puree and olive oil. Grated cheese, sliced mushrooms and onion make great toppings, and add a few herbs and spices to give it some flavour! Put in the oven for 10 minutes or grill until done.
  5. Blend stale bread into breadcrumbs to make breadcrumbs for stuffing, as a topping for crumble and pasta bakes, or as a coating for meat, fish, or vegetables (in combination with an egg or oil). Breadcrumbs can be frozen and used straight from the freezer.

3. Milk

Milk is the third most wasted food in UK homes, with 1 billion glasses of milk binned a year. This means that, every year, 36,500 cows are producing milk that is going down the drain. 6

How to store it: In a fridge kept at the right temperature (2-5 °C). See here for how to check your fridge temperature. Milk has a ‘use by’ date, which refers to its safety. Milk shouldn’t be used after this date.

Freezing milk: Milk can be frozen up until the ‘use by’ date. Freeze it in the bottle, but pour out a little first (for example, into a cup of tea) as it will expand as it freezes. Milk turns yellow when frozen, but this is perfectly normal – just shake before use. Defrost in the fridge overnight and use within 24 hours, or put frozen milk straight into soups, sauces and curries. Alternatively, freeze milk in ice cube trays and pop straight into a cup of tea!

Making the most of milk:

Leek and potato soup

Sources

  1. https://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/flw-data
  2. https://scotland.lovefoodhatewaste.com/makefoodmatter
  3. https://wrap.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-10/food-%20surplus-and-%20waste-in-the-%20uk-key-facts-oct-21.pdf
  4. WRAP, LFHW – Citizen Food Waste Prevention, A practical behaviour change playbook for partners v.1.2
  5. https://www.ukharvest.org.uk/events-and-news/news/the-most-commonly-wasted-foods-in-uk-households-2020
  6. https://lovefoodhatewaste.com/makefoodmatter

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