Reducing food waste

30-50% of the world’s food production ends up as waste every year according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME). Out of the food that gets thrown away around ⅔ (65%) is thrown away by private households, so you reading this can truly make a difference.

Here is what you can do at home to minimize your food waste:

Plan your purchases – This has the biggest positive impact on the amount of food you throw away as a household according to Professor Ole Jørgen Hanssen at Østfold Research.  Make a cooking list of what you plan to cook the coming week and make a shopping list of what you need to buy for that. Always check what you already have at home first. As simple as that.

Taste the food instead of looking at the best before date – There is often a lot of margin built into the best before stamps. Instead, smell it and taste it to see if it actually tastes or smells strange. If it tastes good you can eat it. Worst case scenario you’ll go like “Ouch, that’s gross” and move on with your life.

Go through your fridge 2 times/week to proactively prepare items about to perish before buying new things – Have a routine to quickly go through the whole fridge two times per week and be honest about what you will be able to use in time before it perish. Freeze bread, meat, sliced fruit that you know you won’t be able to eat in time, or prepare dishes using up several perishable items at once and saving time throughout the week. Be conscious about what you learn about what you normally buy too much of and adapt your shopping accordingly.

Have an “Eat me first” shelf in the fridge – Always eat what you have before buying new things. On this shelf you can store leftovers, items about to perish that you don’t want to freeze and old ingredients. It makes it easier to identify what you should eat first. Have an “Eat me first” sign, or do like me and have an Olof at that shelf… anything goes.


Be conscious also at restaurants – Bring home what you don’t finish. At all-you-can-eat buffets, don’t take more than you are able to finish (don’t kid yourself).

Be conscious also about your small children – Many parents regularly serve children more food than they eat, so they always throw things away. This is obviously no better than if an adult would throw food away. Trust your children and let them at a very early age decide for themselves how much food they put on their plate, making it very clear that what they put on their plate they need to be able to finish. Children are amazingly capable and will manage this at a younger age than most parents would probably guess.

You can also engage your community in a campaign called “Food: Too Good To Waste” – you find the toolkit and implementation guide here at EPAs website (US Environmental Protection Agency).

Go for it!