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How much food do you waste?

  • 18-03-2021 6:07pm
    Registered Users Posts: 19,462 ✭✭✭✭

    Was just reading this article which says sizable amounts of food in Ireland get wasted every year and much of it ends up in landfill
    People’s inability to properly police what is in their fridge is costing households as much as €700 a year and contributing to the climate catastrophe, according to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    More than two thirds of Irish people say the main reason they throw out food is because it has past its use-by date, while only 10 per cent say they are any good at keeping on top of what they have in their fridge.,of%20global%20greenhouse%20gas%20emissions.

    Bread is a main contributor
    The EPA said many types of food can be frozen, “whether it’s the extra loaf of bread you bought or the cooked pasta you want to use for lunch later in the week”.

    The survey showed that bread is one of the most wasted foods in Ireland, and when it comes to freezing it is the most versatile – the whole loaf can be frozen when you buy it, or just the last few slices at the end of the bag.

    I used to be guilty of wasting bread, would buy a loaf and inevitably mould would set in before I could get through all of it. But then I got a small counter top freezer to supplement the main one, it sits away hidden under the stairs. So now I wrap bread in batches of four slices with tin foil and freeze it for later use. Its actually a good way of limiting how much white bread I eat as before when there was a whole loaf there Id feel a need to always have a sandwich at lunch time just to try use it up before it went bad. I do the same with 2 packs of french bagettes I buy, one is for using and the other for immediate freezing for later use.

    A food I can never get through on time is garlic as it comes in nets of four bulbs which I just wouldnt use before it begins sprouting. Used to be much easier when Aldi sold them in single bulbs. I had thought of chopping it up and freezing in a small pot of olive oil but I hate peeling and chopping garlic so much Im not going to stand there chopping up four bulbs of it in a row. Ginger is similar, its rare I'll get through the entire packet before it starts growing hairs. Ive tried freezing entire pieces of ginger but it turns to mush after a couple of weeks in the freezer.

    Lettuce is another one, I can never seem to get through a head of it before the brown discoloration on the edges of the leaves comes along.

    Everything else though Im pretty good with and theres no way Im wasting 700 euro of food a year like the survey says some households are doing. Id put my food waste at around 50 quid a year, maybe 60 at a push.

    So what kind of foods are typically wasted in your own household and would you have much of it?



  • Registered Users Posts: 850 ✭✭✭tickingclock

    Lettuce reminds me if it's spinach or rocket I'd freeze it and add it to soup. I'd usually have a bag in the freezer I'd add veg to for soup, stuff like broccoli stalks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,981 ✭✭✭✭odyssey06

    Many people have limited freezer space, so it's not a panacea. Limited space will be reserved for higher value \ effort items.
    There's often v little difference in price between half pan and full pan.

    I find pack size for items like rocket, grapes too large.

    "To follow knowledge like a sinking star..." (Tennyson's Ulysses)

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,066 ✭✭✭✭sammyjo90

    I was wasting so much food a while back I just started eating more take aways and crap food! Tried to stop that now as I just became unhealthy because of it but it still creeps in.

    Its always veg, leaves of any kind, wraps etc for me. Main reason for wastage for me is this: I go out and plan everything I'm going to use them for and then get demotivated and forget about them.
    I think food planning and prep takes alot of that away but even that is a struggle sometimes.

    For salad leaves...a container with kitchen roll keeps things fresher for longer, but nothing will fix the lack of motivation for eating a salad!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,003 ✭✭✭reap-a-rat

    We found it hard to use up lettuce before it would start to brown but once we started wrapping it tightly in tin foil and leaving in the veg drawer in the fridge it started lasting an unreasonably long time! So that's my tip for lettuce.

    We would stay on top of what's in the fridge and plan our meals before writing the shopping list. If there's unused potatoes or veg on the turn I'd make soup. Bread we would use up by Wednesday or Thursday after shopping on Sunday, and we usually have those bake yourself rolls on hand if we needed a fix. Or I'll bake brown bread. So no waste there thankfully.

    In general we don't waste much. Personally in my house growing up it was a very much waste not want not attitude so that has stuck with me. The packaging is the big problem. I'd buy every vegetable loose if I could but a lot of the time it's not possible. So much plastic waste that could be avoided!

  • Registered Users Posts: 235 ✭✭Irish_wolf

    When living by myself, very very little. I can plan my meals and only buy what I need. Like I'll buy enough to make a massive pot of chilli and have chilli every day for about 4 days, changeing it up with a nacho lasagne or burritos to keep it interesting. With spinach and leafy veg I just add more and more to the pot/sandwich if it's nearing the end of its date to clear it. No harm in over eating that stuff generally. Everything that isnt to be eaten within its best before date is frozen and eaten later.

    But when I was back living with my parents or with my Ex I'd be dumping a lot of food, she typically didnt want to eat the same thing every day for a week for some reason /s. I dont typically buy bread except for a treat but my parents feed half the local birds on their bread scraps. Not enough to say €700 but the complexity that arises trying to keep fresh food and enough variety of it for a couple leads to higher wastages. Throw in a couple of kids, or worse teenage lads and you'll need a lot of food constantly coming in which naturally causes your waste to increase.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,936 ✭✭✭✭the beer revolu

    We're both fascist when it comes to food waste.
    I can't say we never throw anything out but we really do keep it to a minimum.
    Freeze bones for stock.
    I've started to render down chicken and pork fat to use for cooking - this was all thrown away previously.
    Bread is frozen and taken out as needed.
    Finished a jar of horseradish recently that was about 4 years out of date, twas fine!

    Of course veggies sometimes get the better of us.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,294 ✭✭✭YellowFeather

    I’m also a bitch for wasting bread. It’s new and fresh, and, yay, sandwich, and then I forget about it. Also spinach for some reason. Comes in a huge packet, and put half into soup, even though I know it will melt into teeny tiny pieces. That’s a really good idea Irish_wolf to just keep throwing it into soup along the way.

    Biggest waste though is soft drinks like fizzy lemon drinks. Hate them when they go flat, so I’ll throw away an almost full bottle if I opened it the day before. (Well, throw away the contents; the bottle gets recycled, and for ??? profit :) ).

    Don’t really waste much else. If I make food, I’ll eat it, and don’t mind having the same dinner a few days in a row. In saying that, I probably have about 7 packages of chicken stock cubes and 9 million tinned tomatoes in the cupboard because I never check if I have them before buying more.

    Oh - and apples. They are grand and all, but I’d say I’ve thrown away more than I have eaten.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,069 ✭✭✭phormium

    I waste very little but I have two freezers and freeze anything that can be frozen. Lettuce is probably my main offence too, i usually buy iceberg so it lasts a good while anyway but still there is invariably a bit of it that ends up in the bin.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,408 Mod ✭✭✭✭woodchuck

    I try my best to limit waste, between making use of the freezer and meal planning. But inevitably there's always some waste. There's always the end of a bag of lettuce at the very least and the heels of a slice pan (we just don't like them!).

    I find fresh chillis and ginger a b1tch to try and use up. I might only need one for a recipe, but Tesco only sells them in packs of 3 or 4.

    Before the pandemic, everywhere was getting much better at having loose fruit and veg, so that people could buy only as much as they needed to reduce waste. I feel like we've reverted really badly to prepackaged fresh produce in the last year and that's a large part of the problem these days.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,097 ✭✭✭con747

    woodchuck wrote: »
    I try my best to limit waste, between making use of the freezer and meal planning. But inevitably there's always some waste. There's always the end of a bag of lettuce at the very least and the heels of a slice pan (we just don't like them!).

    I find fresh chillis and ginger a b1tch to try and use up. I might only need one for a recipe, but Tesco only sells them in packs of 3 or 4.

    Before the pandemic, everywhere was getting much better at having loose fruit and veg, so that people could buy only as much as they needed to reduce waste. I feel like we've reverted really badly to prepackaged fresh produce in the last year and that's a large part of the problem these days.

    Chillies and ginger can be used from frozen, I grate the frozen ginger and slice the chillies straight from it, heels of bread you can use as bread crumbs as well and freeze. I always just put them in the freezer when left with some. I try use as up much food as possible to leave very little waste, but always something for the bin i'm afraid.

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,727 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Food plans, fridge/freezer inventories and shopping lists are key to reducing food waste, for me. I have magnetic whiteboard sheets on the fridge and freezer doors and keep a running inventory of what's in both. Plan meals and shop accordingly.

    Make the most of limited freezer space by taking as much stuff as possible out of its packaging. Pizzas go straight in in their cellophane. I freeze bread, waffles, etc. in batches in ziploc bags, which I reuse.

    Chop and freeze leftover peppers, celery etc before they go rubbery. You can cook them from frozen. Start a stock bag for anything you don't quite get to in time - elderly carrots, slightly soft onions etc. will all be perfectly fine to make stock with.

    I'm an absolute Nazi about food waste, I HATE throwing anything out. My housemate seems to buy veg (bagged salad in particular) just to give it a holiday in the fridge before it goes in the bin.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,408 Mod ✭✭✭✭woodchuck

    con747 wrote: »
    Chillies and ginger can be used from frozen, I grate the frozen ginger and slice the chillies straight from it, heels of bread you can use as bread crumbs as well and freeze. I always just put them in the freezer when left with some. I try use as up much food as possible to leave very little waste, but always something for the bin i'm afraid.

    I freeze ginger the odd time, but I'm not a big fan. I find I have to grate it straight from the freezer, skin and all. Otherwise it turns to mush if I defrost it first. It wasn't really worth the cold hand tbh :/ (especially in winter, my hands are always in bits with the cold weather). I generally try to use up the leftovers in another recipe the following week if I can.

    I might try freezing chillis though, thanks!

    It would be so much handier if you could just buy what you need instead of a whole pack though.

    I don't have a food processor to make breadcrumbs and I very rarely use breadcrumbs anyway. I still have a spare pack bought at Christmas time in the freezer! They're probably frost bitten at this stage :/

  • Registered Users Posts: 808 ✭✭✭Jellybaby_1

    I don't waste anything if I can help it. We get milk delivered to the doorstep and in a hot summer it may go off before I take it in depending on the time its delivered. If its sour I use it to make scones. I always freeze bread so absolutely no waste, sometimes I pop bits into the blender to make breadcrumbs and freeze it as well. Meat only goes in the fridge to cover the next two days meals the rest is frozen immediately. I never have much problem with lettuce. I wash it and use a salad spinner to get the water off it, drain the water off, replace the lid and pop the whole thing in the fridge, depending on the type of lettuce it should be fine for four days at least, curly lettuce lasts much longer than Butterhead, the Lidl salad trio mix is a great keeper. Never much problem for us, we eat a lot of salads. I never buy ginger as I wouldn't use it enough. Rarely buy fresh garlic and prefer to use the tube stuff, no wastage either although I recently did buy a little net of Irish grown garlic just to support locally grown but I'll need to use it up more quickly. I usually buy large bags of carrots and store it in the fridge but find it keeps better in a paper bag rather than the plastic. If the last few are starting to look iffy I'll slice them into chips and pop them into the air fryer when I'm cooking chips, they really are delicious as carrot chips. I store mushrooms in a paper bags at the bottom of the fridge but they should be used up quickly. The only thing I throw out is very very old spices. I don't throw them out soon after the use by date, but the last one I threw out was six years old, not a good day for me! :o I grew parsley last year and froze lots of it. I've made a lot of parsley sauce with it and sprinkle it on soups and all sorts of recipes, roast spuds, roast chicken.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,319 ✭✭✭JustAThought

    I have very little waste and only put the black bin out about once a year - so recycling is my middle name! That being said the 5 a day has kind of gone by the wayside during the pandemic as I don’t want to be going into shops every 3 or 4 days to buy fresh vegetables or salad and it really only lasts about that long (other than onions & peppers!). To my shame almost all of what I throw out is mouldy fruit or mush veg - apples I intended to eat or cook with that shriveled brown first, occasional oranges that went rock hard in the fridge, bags of opened salad or spinach that turned to sileage before they got used up, mouldy lemons that were supposed to become pies and the occasional opened jar of jam or pesto that even I can’t dig enough mould off the top to feel comfortable using. .

    I’m good a slicing bagels and freezing them for breakfast with scrambled eggs, or freezing multipack meat ( not that I like eating or cooking with unfrozen meat or frozen bags of veg). Interestingly chrisps, cake and chocolate are never around long enough to rot - funny that!!

    I really do hate waste - particularly some poor animal whose life was engineered around being a breakfast - I just feel its so wrong to kill something and package it and then throw it out and have it die in vain because I was too lazy to bother cooking it or got too many takeaways.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,591 ✭✭✭SineadSpears

    I won't even fully admit to what goes on here because its disgraceful. I sometimes think I buy food just as a decoration because I waste that much.

    I don't have a huge appetite & I don't always like to eat a dinner. Usually on the weekends I'll pig out a bit more. I've always been like that.

    But with the lockdowns, even the kiddos don't want full meals now either. So still buying food hoping at least they will eat right, but no they have no interest either at the minute. So a very high percentage of what I buy is binned :o

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,065 ✭✭✭screamer

    Used to be bad for wasting food, but with being able to work from home I started cooking a lot more. I’ve been following a healthy food plan since mid Jan and I plan out meals so things get used up. Fruit like grapes 2 days and punnet is gone. We go through so much fruit and veg it’s unreal. As for meat again it’s planned out and I go to the butcher once a week. Most of it is frozen and taken out as needed, but if not, no bother my pressure cooker will cook from frozen. We don’t have 0 food waste, but it’s very little these days.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,624 ✭✭✭✭meeeeh

    We have a four legged contraption that recycles any leftover meat. It doesn't work well on vegetables but it can mulch a big doormat. :D

    I don't cook for leftovers. I'm terrible at using stuff from freezer and it all eventually ends in a bin. However most of the stuff in fridge is actually used. Canned food or some novelty pasta can be forgotten for a few years but eventually they get used. Possibly a year after bbf date. :D

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 12,108 CMod ✭✭✭✭Dizzyblonde

    Although there are just two of us here now, we still have a big fridge/freezer and a spare small freezer so we waste very little food. We freeze part of each loaf/pan so we don't waste bread. We freeze lots of leftovers too. Himself doesn't eat lettuce so a small amount of that gets thrown out.

    Having a frost free fridge/freezer makes a difference too, because food in the fridge seems to last much longer.

  • Registered Users Posts: 850 ✭✭✭tickingclock

    I'd regularly make bread and butter pudding from left over bread. Some may raise their eyebrows but throw in some quality chocolate and free range eggs and you've a good dessert.
    Also have a lunch box in the freezer I add crusts and herbs too or bits of uneaten focciaca or other flavoured bread. It can easily be used then for tasty breadcrumbs..

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,453 Mod ✭✭✭✭Shenshen

    I'm trying to waste as little as possible, but I'm not sure I'm succeeding. That said, I'm pretty sure I'm not throwing out €700 worth of food a year!
    It's the same usual suspects - fresh fruit and veg, and dairy products. I really like cream cheese, but I occasionally forget I've an open pack in the fridge, and when I do find it again it's gone all interesting colours.
    I get the occasional apple or orange starting to rot in the bowl, hidden by other fruit. And recently, I find some cucumbers going off rather quickly - both Aldi and Lidl (where I'd usually buy them) have started keeping some fruit and veg in their large fridges, and my suspicion is they accidentally freeze some sometimes. They then go mushy when defrosted, and then quickly rot.
    But these would be once a month occurrences, if I had to guess. Certainly not regular enough for me to even remember the last time.

    Leftovers are a bit more of a problem. I keep them with the best intentions, but I'd guess one out of 3 portions of leftovers is kept for too long and then thrown out.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 600 ✭✭✭Space Dog

    I try to waste as little as possible, but I'm not always succeeding either. I certainly try to not waste meat because that really bugs me.
    I usually always end up binning some spare celery sticks, wilted lettuce or rotten pears (because I love them but am the only one eating them here, and they tend to ripen at the same time so it's a race against the clock). Milk also gets wasted sometimes as we only buy organic and you can't buy them in smaller sizes (at least I haven't seen any).
    My OH also doesn't pay too much attention to best before dates when shopping, so we sometimes have to rush to eat something that's only good for two or three days and that doesn't always work.

    I freeze what I can (bread, hummus, leftovers etc.), but we only have limited freezer space.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,639 ✭✭✭sporina

    very little waste here but we shop v often.. too often for my liking but we like good fresh produce..

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,453 Mod ✭✭✭✭Shenshen

    sporina wrote: »
    very little waste here but we shop v often.. too often for my liking but we like good fresh produce..

    I did find that helps. When I got together with my now-husband, he used to do weekly shops. And having heard that this was sensible, I went along with it for a while. We ended up throwing out so much, it was horrible!
    I was used to going shopping every other day, that's how my mother used to do it. And we've gradually switched back to that, with far less wastage.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,064 ✭✭✭Living Off The Splash

    Practically nil food waste here. We put lettuce and asparagus bases in bowl of water to last longer. The only thing that we seem to have a problem with would be soft spreadable cheese or chutney that gets a mould growth.

    There always seems to be an apple or orange in every packet we buy that is already bruised and starts to go off quickly. All supermarkets guilty.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 556 ✭✭✭shtpEdthePlum

    The issue is supermarkets selling huge quantities of foods as the rule and making buying small amounts of things too expensive. Customers will buy more of the goods they deem "good value", not manage to use it all and throw it away. The only person gaining in that transaction is Tesco.

    We limit the fresh produce we buy to five meals, with typically longer-lasting goods being used later in the week.

    We cook a chicken the day we get shopping and have a chicken dinner (legs and wings) that day. I refrigerate the remaining breasts for up to 3 days and have it in some sort of curry at some stage. It's the best value possible with chicken as six dinners worth of meat only costs €5.

    The day after shopping arrives, we have fresh fish. Usually oven roasted salmon. We also have frozen fish at some point as well.

    One day, I make a vegetarian dish. Gotta watch how fresh the veg is. I buy three lots of leafy greens (used to be from the garden but we left that behind were we moved), spinach, kale, mixed leaves, usually string beans, frozen peas, broccoli, carrots, celery, onions... Veggie dish could be something Middle Eastern like Fattoush, Baba Ganoush, Musakhan... Or Italian veggie dishes like Rollatini or Lasagne.

    Some sort of red meat makes an appearance as well during the week, maybe a stew or shepherd's pie or occasionally a roast or just boil some bacon for bacon, cabbage and turnip. Or bodice! There's often too much in the dish when I make it one week, so we freeze the leftovers and that saves cooking for the following week.

    Two days we'll have salad with quiche or pizza or tinned fish or whatever we feel like with it.

    There's usually a competely junk food meal every fortnight as well. Usually a steak and kidney pie with chips and mash, burgers, chicken dippers or whatever rubbish. Sometimes (when I'm on holidays from work) I'll use the chicken to make battered chicken balls and do fried rice like the Chinese does.

    Nothing whatsoever goes in the bin. Every single morsel is eaten and the peels are composted for the garden. The chicken carcass is about the only food that eventually goes in the bin after I boil it for stock.

    This system is new because we have a much smaller fridge than we had six months ago, but we never threw anything out before either. We just had more of a variety and more flexibility when we had a bigger fridge.

    We work around the supermarket but they do make the huge quantities of food much more appealing. They are the worst for throwing out "spoiled" food. My best friend goes "skipping" and liberates that stuff. He's never been caught :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,816 ✭✭✭Gloomtastic!

    According to our City Bindex, we had 24kg of organic waste last month. All garden waste goes on the compost heap.

    The dogs get all meat waste, the chickens get a lot of veg waste so that would leave peelings, used tea bags, leftover oils and fats from cooking, soiled paper/cardboard not suitable for green bin. Still a lot though, I think.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 556 ✭✭✭shtpEdthePlum

    Could really do with a dog... We tried to feed the cat leftovers and he gets them stuck in his throat with the excitement. Then I have to stick a hand down and retrieve what's stuck...

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,652 ✭✭✭Patsy167

    Would love to see these appear in Ireland - community fridge -

    Similar idea to the public book libraries that have popped up in some places.

  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,940 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite

    I've gotten better at it after we moved. Before, it was daily or every other day shopping but the apartment complex didn't have segragated bins so no facility to properly compost. We would have waste because I didn't meal plan as well and had little in the way of storage for store-cupboard basics.

    Now we have our own bins, we recycle as much as we can, we compost old stuff and the dog and cats eat the meat leftovers our out of date stuff. Having a bigger freezer and meal planning has helped a lot there.

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,408 Mod ✭✭✭✭woodchuck

    I've have a tub of sour cream leftover from fajitas... it usually ends up in the bin, but does anyone have any suggestions to avoid this?