Tips for cutting food waste and recipe ideas

Do you know about the link between food and climate change? We can’t tackle climate change unless we cut food waste and change our diet.

A quarter of global emissions come from growing and producing food, but 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year. 70% of food thrown away comes from our homes.

Stopping global food waste would save 4.4 million tonnes of carbon a year, the same as taking one in four cars off the road.

Wasting less food is good for the planet and your pocket. The average family throws away £60 worth of food every month!

Eat Better (For You And The Planet) cookbook

Wakefield Council has produced a cookbook with tasty, healthy recipes contributed by the district’s cooking community. It has advice on reducing food waste, eating a more environmentally-friendly diet and using less energy in the kitchen.

Here is Ruby Rhubarb sharing her favourite recipes for using up leftovers and top tips for reducing food waste.

Try these recipes out as a way of reducing waste:

Recipe Card 1 - Shepherd's Pie, Apple Crisp
Recipe Card 2 - Fritters, Pancakes
Recipe Card 3 - Curry, Crumble
Recipe Card 4 - Pizza, Smoothie

Preparation and shopping

Food and money been thrown into a green bin with the text: "The average family chucks away £60 of food every month." and "Cutting food waste is good for your purse and the planet."""
  1. Plan your meals and create a shopping list. Check what you already have and just buy what you need
  2. No time for a list? Take a selfie (of your fridge or cupboard), so when you are shopping you know what you have already
  3. Avoid food wrapped in plastic
  4. Buy single bananas – they’re often overlooked in favour of bunches and can get wasted
  5. Shop locally. Pick markets, farms or independents to reduce transportation emissions and support the local economy
  6. Use reusable bags

Flex your diet

  1. Some foods have higher carbon footprints than others. Find out more here
  2. Adopting a more plant-based diet could reduce your carbon footprint by two-thirds. Meat and dairy products have a higher environmental impact than fruit or vegetables, particularly beef. Cows need a lot of grazing land, land to grow their feed and consume large amounts of water. This is all before the animal is slaughtered and the meat packaged and transported to supermarket shelves
  3. Eat seasonally as well as shopping locally to reduce emissions from transportation. As much as we love asparagus, it’s one diva vegetable – if it’s not grown in the UK it is flown in using refrigerated aircrafts!
  4. Be mindful that chocolate and coffee produced in deforested rainforest can have a similar impact to beef too

Storing Food

Meat and fruit with the text "Food doesn't have to be eaten by its Best Before Date." and "Use By Foods only last a few days, so keep them in the fridge, or freeze them to last longer."
  1. The freezer is your friend! Store perishables like bread, meat, milk and cheese in the fridge so they keep for longer
  2. Use your ice tube tray for milk, fresh herbs in oil, crushed garlic, egg yolks and fruit
  3. Keep your fridge under 5 degrees and make sure there is space around your food for the air to circulate
  4. Know the difference between use by and best before. Best before relates to quality – food can still be eaten after that date
  5. Keeping fruit in the fridge will make it last longer (but bananas or pineapples prefer a fruit bowl)
  6. Keep potatoes in a bag in a cupboard
  7. Create an ‘eat me first’ box in your fridge to reduce waste


To do list stuck with magnets to a fridge that reads: "Look up leftover recipes. Keep your fridge under 5 degrees. Got too much? Freeze it. Plan your meals. Before you shop take a selfie (of your fridge or cupboard)"
  1. Invest in some measuring tools or weigh your food so you don’t cook more than you need
  2. Use slow cookers, toasters and microwaves – they use less power
  3. Use the right size pan for the food you’re cooking. A wider pan will take less time and power to heat up. Use boiling water from the kettle as it uses less energy
  4. Batch cook, so you’re only using the energy once. If you freeze the meal, remember to take it out the night before so it thaws properly
  5. Get creative: experiment with different combinations and flavours to make sure you are using everything you have in your cupboards

Leftover and waste

Bin full of food waste and the text: "In Wakefield district, food waste now makes up 41% of a typical green bin." and "Be careful what you buy and throw away."
  1. Leftovers are great for the next day, or pop them in the freezer. Invest in storage containers or use take-away cartons
  2. Use every edible bit, including crusts and broccoli stalks. You can also make stock from chicken carcasses
  3. Make compost out of your peelings and eggshells – great for the garden
  4. There’s no shame in not finishing a meal when you are out. Take leftovers home from restaurants
  5. Look for apps such as Too Good To Go to help save money and reduce food waste

Want to know more?

Check out WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste website for more great tips and recipes.

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