We ask Great British Chef Bryn Williams to share his clever tips and tricks to reduce food waste, helping you make the most of everything you buy and cook.
That half-eaten bag of rocket, family-sized tub of Greek yogurt, or the slightly sad-looking punnet of strawberries… Whatever the culprit, we as a nation are throwing away 250,000 tonnes of food that’s still edible each year.
Chef Patron of Primrose Hill’s Odette’s and Great British Chef Bryn Williams imparts his top 10 tips on being food waste savvy in the kitchen…
1. Make a plan
As a professional chef (and even at home), organisation is key to helping me reduce food waste. In the restaurant, I get to know the demographic and what people want to eat, so I plan according to that. It’s the same at home. Before you leave the house, make a list and get to know what you already have in your fridge. I also like to think about what it is that I want to cook, so I’m buying produce with that in mind.
2. Meet the locals
Supporting local producers is more important now than ever, so it’s definitely worth building a relationship with your butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer. They’ll be able to let you know when produce is at its peak, but more than that, they’ll tell you what needs to be eaten today or tomorrow. They’d rather sell it cheap to you than throw it away!
3. Think two meals at a time
At home, I plan meals two days at a time. This does take a bit of time management and planning, but it’s worth it because that way you’ll be more conscious of what you’re buying and cooking and therefore massively reduce food waste. If I’m making a Bolognese on a Monday, on the Tuesday I’ll use the leftovers and bulk it out with some veg from the fridge to make a lasagne.
4. Buy it, freeze it
A lot of people forget that their freezer isn’t a time machine – by that I mean food must go in fresh in order for it to come out fresh, so freeze things as soon as you buy them rather than letting them sit for too long in the fridge. If you’re buying a large amount of mince, for example, divide it up and freeze what you don’t need straight away. With leftover vegetables, I like to make a big soup, and then freeze it in portions.
5. Think outside the box
In the restaurant, we try to make the most of every part of our ingredients, extracting as much flavour as possible. When peas are in season, for instance, we make a delicious pea stock using the pea shells, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and water. Ordinarily, the shells might just end up in the bin, but we’ve found an easy way to reduce kitchen food waste. The stock makes a flavourful base for sauces and soups. We also use up other vegetables in chutneys or by pickling them – my favourite is probably pickled beetroot with wild garlic. It’s about getting to know how ingredients can be eaten differently and experimenting – we have also made a tasty pesto using carrot tops.
6. Store like a pro
You can now buy fridges that keep track of edible contents inside and order new food automatically. But you needn’t shell out on fancy tech – you can get on top of your food stock simply by being consistent with how you store it. For example, you might keep meat on the bottom fridge shelf or your grains and pasta in clear jars. Even just making sure the labels are facing outwards makes it’s easier to get a snapshot of your ingredients. That way, you don’t go out and buy more unnecessarily.
7. Buy what you need
We’ve all got into a mentality of stock-piling and bulk buying, which isn’t necessarily conducive to reducing waste. Instead, I like to do one big shop each week and then top up every couple of days with only what I need. Buy-one-get-one-free deals aren’t always the best value either, so always check the cost per weight before stocking up.
8. Embrace ad hoc cooking
This is something the French are particularly good at – using up ingredients that are past their best. Take lettuce – it often starts to wilt after just one day – try cooking it gently, stirring in some crème fraîche and serving it on toasted sourdough, or, mix it through some pasta with fresh parmesan and pesto. I try to do a ‘use it up’ meal every week – it’s a good way to get creative. Plus, using up old veg and other bits feels really rewarding. You feel like you’re doing your bit to help the world!
Did you know that Ocado’s goal is to be the first supermarket with zero edible food waste? Have a look at what they’re doing to stop food waste. And don’t forget that you can save up to 25% off Healthy Foods with free delivery when you link your Vitality account and shop online with Ocado.