How To Reduce Food Waste In The UK

October 11, 2016


Whether scraping a meal’s leftovers straight into the bin or, simply losing track of sell-by dates; Britain is wasting a large proportion of food, and with it, large quantities of money. 

Food waste in numbers

According to

  • 50% - of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes.
  • 7 million tonnes – the amount of food and drink we throw away from our homes every year in the UK. More than half of this is food and drink is still edible.
  • £470 a year – The cost of wasted food for the average household.
  • £700 - The cost of wasted food for a family with children (around £60 a month!).
  • 1 in 4 - If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

So with those figures in mind, here's how to reduce food waste in the UK. 



Common Culprits


Full-fat milk typically lasts longer than skimmed milk. And, pasteurised milk typically lasts longer than unpasteurised milk. When running low on other items, many families buy a new carton of milk in anticipation.

Unless you know that you and your family can get through a four litre carton of milk; it may be worth buying smaller bottles, to maximise the freshness.  

Sour milk isn’t simply unpleasant; it can harbour harmful bacteria, specifically Streptococcus lactis, which could lead to food poisoning. 


Image: Credit to Sea Wave /

Minimising waste

Can you freeze milk?  Yes

Which recipes will help me to quickly use up milk nearing its sell-by date?

Breakfast: Winter Fruit Porridge, Breakfast Pancakes (add blueberries, strawberries or banana).

Lunches: Croque Monsieur Sandwich, Creamy Soups or, Quiche.

Mains: Healthy Macaroni Cheese, Milk Pork or, Fish Pie. 

Sides: Cauliflower cheese, homemade white/cheese sauce, custard, creamy mashed potato, 

Desserts: Home-made ice-cream, Crème Caramel, Panna Cotta, Rice Pudding, South African Milk Tart

Drinks: Milkshakes, luxury hot chocolate


Photo credit: Pinkyone/Shutterstock 


The storage of your fruit is pretty important when trying to get the maximum freshness and lifespan from the fruit. Did you know, over-ripe fruit can spoil other fruit owing to ethylene gas, “the ripening hormone?” Apples will firstly become powdery, then mouldy; bananas darken and become mushy, and grey fluffy mould forms around fruits such as raspberries and grapes.

To slow this process, most fruits can be stored in the fridge. However, some other are too sensitive. 

According to livestrong:

'Fruits that fall into this category include avocados, unripe bananas, nectarines and peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes. Don’t store ripe bananas in the fridge, though. Their skins will turn dark -- making them look spoiled, though they aren’t -- and everything in the vicinity will smell like bananas.'

Image: Credit to Africa Studio /

Can you freeze fruit?  

Certain fruits freeze better than others

Which recipes will help me to quickly use up fruit nearing its sell-by date?

Breakfast: Orange & Blueberry Bircher, Melon & crunchy bran pots, Fruit muffins, 

Lunches: Watermellon & Feta Salad, Waldorf Salad, 

Mains: Duck A L’Orange, 

Sides: Apple Sauce, Cranberry Sauce, Mango Chutney, Melon & Parma Ham, 

Desserts: Peach Melba, Spiced Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce,  Banana Split, Fruit Salad, Strawberries & Cream Victoria Sponge, Apple Pie / Crumble, Banana Bread or, Blueberry Fool.

Drinks: Smoothies, Fresh Orange Juice, Apple Cidre, Tomato juice


Photo credit: sarsmis/Shutterstock 


Soft, mouldy

Can you freeze vegetables? Yes  

Which recipes will help me to quickly use up vegetables nearing their sell-by date?

Breakfast: Savoury Vegetable Pancakes, Vegetable Salad, Israeli Salad, Vegetable Muffins, Beetroot and Blackberry Salad.

Lunches: Broccoli, Red Leicester & Sour Cream Jacket Potatoes, Stuffed Peppers, Harvest Salad, Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup, Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs with Yoghurt Dip. 

Mains: Ratatouille, Vegetable Lasagne, Wild Mushroom Cottage Pie, Vegetable Curry, Spring Vegetable Paella. 

Sides: Cauliflower Cheese, Garlic, Pesto & Cheese-filled Tomatoes, Spicy Pepper Dip, Guacamole, Vegetable Crisps 

Desserts: Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Avocado Brownie, Zuchinni Cake with Lemon Glaze, Spicy Maple Corn Fritters,

Drinks: Carrot juice, 

Image: Credit to 


Eggs should not be consumed passed their sell-by date. Not only can they smell foul, they are more likely to harbour salmonella. 

According to The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: 

Just a few hours outside of the refrigerator and your eggs can create lasting memories that you'd rather forget. Warm weather / central heating and unrefrigerated eggs or food made from raw or undercooked eggs create ideal conditions for Salmonella to grow. Many germs grow to high numbers in just a few hours at room temperature.

Although anyone can get Salmonella food poisoning, older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for serious illness. 


Image: Credit to Timolina /

Can you freeze eggs?  Yes 

Which recipes will help me to quickly use up eggs nearing their sell-by date?

Breakfast: Full English Breakfasts (Poached, Scrambled or Fried), Eggs Benedict, Breakfast Omelette

Lunches: Quiche, Vegetable & Goats Cheese Frittata, Egg & Watercress Sandwich or, Salad Nicoise. 

Mains:  Salmon with poached eggs, 

Sides: Devilled Eggs, Homemade Mayonnaise,  

Desserts: Pound Cake, Crème Brûlée, Soufflé or, Pavlova 


Image: Credit to 4_mai /

Bread is another common household food which can be frozen yet is regularly binned due to being left out, allowing it to form mould.


Image: Credit to Lisovskaya Natalia /

Recycled Food Retailers - Potential solutions for commercial food waste

Savvy Shopping

In a recent interview with the, Dragon’s Den reject, Dan Cluderay, revealed how he achieved financial success by marketing and selling food nearing, on, or past its best before date. But isn’t a best-before date there for health and safety reasons?  Well, no, actually. 

Mr Cluderay commented:

"A use by date is there for health and safety reasons. But buying best before dates are for things in your cupboard - your tins of soup, pasta, crisps. It's got nothing to do with the safety of that product."

Mr Cluderay says he saves shoppers around 70% on their weekly grocery bills, and ships to 600 homes a day. Consumers are becoming more savvy about picking up items that have gone past the 'best before' date, he adds.

Bargains have become big business in the UK, with around half of people now shopping in discount stores. Retailers and consumers are also becoming more aware about food waste. Last year, London's first 'social supermarket' opened to help fight food poverty.


Recycled Food Restaurants

However, Cluderay is not the only individual to have had thoughts regarding minimising food wastage on a commercial scale. Recently, London’s first restaurant which makes use of food sourced from local suppliers which would otherwise go to waste opened in Notting Hill.

According to

The menus at Tiny Leaf change on a daily basis due to the unpredictable nature of deliveries, but potential dishes may include buckwheat pancakes with blueberry compote, coconut yoghurt and bee pollen for breakfast, washed down with nut “mylk”. Lunch could include courgetti with hemp pesto with a butter bean ragu, and for dinner, broccoli steaks with baba ganoush.


Image: Credit to Oxana Denezhkina /

Feature Image: Credit to SpeedKingz /