What items of food waste are we throwing away the most and how can we use them up to stop them facing a perishable fate?

Often, we are far too quick to throw away food that may be slightly on the turn. I get it- you pick up your loaf of bread and it feels slightly more brick like than the pillowy soft dough you bought yesterday.

After a sigh of frustration and a quick ‘how has this gone off already!’ you proceed to toss the whole loaf in the bin.

In reality, that crusty cob or firm focaccia is harmless-nothing to be defeated by, and certainly nothing worth wasting the other 19 slices of bread for.

The same can be said for that knobbly sprouting potato at the back of the cupboard, or the block of cheese that smells ever so slightly too cheesy.

According to Love Food, Hate Waste, the UK wastes a whopping 7 million tonnes of household waste a year- most of this could be re-worked to make a perfectly good meal or snack.

If you want to help the fight against food waste, here is the five topmost wasted foods in the UK and how you can rescue them from a perishable fate in your bin.

1. Bread

Over 240 million slices of bread are wasted every year. Whether it be buying a loaf too large to get through, or not knowing how to save a stale slice, there are many ways this matter of loaf or death could be curbed.

Firstly, buy a smaller loaf- most big brands sell half sized loaves which are much easier to get through for households with less members or those living alone.

Loaf of bread, Photo Credits: Unsplash

Freezing your bread is also a fool proof way to make you loaf last for weeks longer. It may not be quite a soft and fresh no, but when toasted you would never know the difference.

If you notice your bread going hard or stale, there are many ways you could repurpose the whole loaf.

Making croutons by coating chunks in oil and roasting it in the oven to add to soups and salads, or even blending it with herbs and spices to make breadcrumbs are great ways to do this.

Croutons, Photo Credits: Unsplash

If time is on your side, you could even try your hand at baking a delicious, sweet bread and butter pudding for dessert.

2. Milk

Milk is most wasted by people not using all the carton before it goes off. 5.9 million gallons is wasted per year!

The obvious way to tackle this is to buy less, or smaller pints of milk. However, if you find yourself with an abundance of the stuff, there are many ways you can incorporate milk into your cooking to use up larger quantities.

Add it to your morning smoothie for extra creaminess or make yourself a simple Béchamel sauce. All you need is flour and butter- cupboard essentials in most households. This can be used for so many dishes and is a great way to impress those you may be cooking for.

Milk and berry smoothie, Photo Credits: Unsplash

If you are feeling extra creative and fancy trying something more advanced, have a go at making Paneer with milk that has started to curdle.

3. Potatoes

In the UK, we love a humble spud. Unfortunately, we care for them a lot less than we appear to, with 5.8 million potatoes disregarded every year.

Make them last longer by storing them in a cool, dark place. If they are starting to go off, you can batch cook the rest of the bag and freeze in portions.

Recipes that work well with knobbly bobbly potatoes include bubble and squeak (a great way to also use your leftover veg), home-made gnocchi and fishcakes.

Potato Gnocchi, Photo Credits: Unsplash

4. Cheese

Different types of cheese have a different lifespan, but generally speaking, it can last a surprisingly long time.

People often throw it away when it is perfectly fine to use. If it is starting to go off, it can be used to cook with to use up the last of the block.

Grated Cheddar, Photo Credits: Unsplash

The best thing to batch cook with leftover cheese is a classic cheese sauce. Indulgent and extremely versatile- you can’t go wrong. Use a béchamel recipe and simply chuck in your cheese to make this.

The uses for this are endless- cauliflower cheese, mac and cheese- anything and cheese!

5. Apples

There is always a lone apple or two sat rotting in everyone’s fruit bowl. In fact, 1.3 million of them are thrown away each year.

They last much longer in a cool dark place, so perhaps try rehoming them from decedent fruit bowl on the kitchen table and see if this helps you get through them.

If you also ensure they are clean and dry and not touching each other, they will last longer too.

Once they do start to go off, they may not be nice enough to bite into, however, they can still be used to make some delicious apple-y concoctions.

Cut them up and stew them to use as a porridge topping, make a compote or, cook them on the stove with some cinnamon and sugar to make a knock-up apple crumble filling.  

Apple crumble, Photo Credit: Unsplash

So, next time you go to chuck something away- have a rethink about how you could repurpose it, if you could freeze it, or if you could store it better next time you buy it to give it a longer lifespan.