“Is that a moldy piece of cheese in the depths of the fridge? Oh, and here are some cold cuts too, but I wonder how old they are … do we dare eat them?”
Fleeting, everyday thoughts that lead to over a million kilos of food waste each year in Finland alone. Finns throw away an average of 20–25 kg of food each a year – worth around €100.
There are lots of reasons to reduce the amount of food waste we produce – from saving money to saving the planet. And the latter is no joke. If food waste were a country, its carbon footprint would be the third largest in the world, after those of China and the USA.
There are plenty of ways to reduce food waste. By changing attitudes and through small, everyday choices, we can influence the amount of food waste our own household produces significantly. If you can manage to stop for a moment to think about and plan how to buy your food, where to buy it from, and how much to get, as well as how any leftover food can be used up, and how it can be used further in general, then sure enough, you should see a fall in the amount of waste you produce and money you spend on food.
For example, how and where left-over or close-to-expiry food is stored is one key factor. If it is kept in the fridge in a transparent box that you see right away when you open the door, you will be less likely to forget about it and leave it to go off. If you keep a roll of masking tape and a pen nearby, you can mark the date on the side of the container, giving you more confidence in deciding whether those cold cuts can still be eaten. A removable mesh basket inside the container prevents moisture from seeping into the food, ensuring fruit and vegetables remain fresh for longer. Small, but surprisingly significant things.
Do you know how long various foods can be left in the fridge on average (+2–5 °C)?
Milk 7 days
Meat 3–5 days
Minced meat 1–2 days
Fish 1 day
Cold cuts 5–7 days
Pre-prepared foods 3–4 days
Sauces, porridges 1–2 days
Here are a few ideas of things to make from food that might otherwise go to waste:
Quesadillas are a great option even for tortilla wraps that have dried out a little. Toast all kinds of fillings that you might otherwise throw away between two wraps with cheese. Pieces of cheese that are getting old can be grated and frozen, allowing you to add a little sprinkling of grated cheese to all kinds of different foods.
Cut old, dried out bread into pieces and fry it in a frying pan with butter, salt and garlic. This also works excellently with rye bread.
Let’s not forget the old favorite, pyttipannu hash, which you make with potatoes, root vegetables, sausages, cold cuts, meat balls, and all kinds of other things. Have you tried making pyttipannu hash from raw potato? It may take longer to make, but the end result is oh so delicious. A splash of cream in your pyttipannu hash makes for a great addition.
If a banana starts to look past its best before you manage to eat it, cut it into cubes, freeze it, and use it gradually in smoothies.
Food is wonderful and it deserves our respect. Hopefully more and more people will make a bit of healthy scrimping part of their everyday life and think about what they can do to reduce their food waste.