It’s been 5 years since I started to learn about food waste and began in earnest my PhD research on it’s environmental impacts and how we, as consumers, can minimise these. Here’s how it’s improved my life.
1. I’ve become more interested in cooking
I used to be all about convenience, ready meals and takeaways were my lifes blood! I know so many of us, me included, are guilty of getting in from a long day at work, looking in the fridge and thinking ‘Hmmm, cooking….or Dominos….’
Easy choice right?!
But part of this is because there is a generation of people who haven’t been taught much about cooking. We haven’t been taught how to cook with whatever’s available and make it taste as good as ready meals or takeouts. And we haven’t been taught how to make nutritious meals that don’t take an hour and half to cook and use every pan in the kitchen!
Since I’ve started trying to reduce my food waste levels I’ve invested my time in learning more about cooking techniques, I look at trying to figure out what I can make from whatever’s in my fridge as a fun challenge and experiment more with new flavours and ideas. Plus it’s led to the creation of my ‘Cook more, waste less’ essentials – Check The Food Waste Doctors Facebook and Instagram for more on this.
2. I’ve learnt more about herbs and spices
I was so rigid with herbs and spices before and my herb rack consisted of the absolute basics: Parsley, Basil, Rosemary and Thyme. Now my herb rack is re-DONK and even better, I have my own little herb garden! Since I’ve started learning more about herbs and spices I’ve played with different combinations and found that not only do I love things I thought I wasn’t a fan of (I’ve never liked mint in anything other than ice cream or a mojito before) but that I can make really healthy food taste DELICIOUS when I play with the herbs I put in it.
3. I’ve become more conscious about nutrition, in particular gut health
I’ve been following @theguthealthdoctor on Instagram for years, actually she was one of the people who inspired me to start The Food Waste Doctor, but it wasn’t until I really got in to food waste that I discovered the amount of overlap between food waste reduction and gut health. Caring about gut health is so important as the microbes which live in our guts have been linked to how well your immune system performs, your moods, your metabolism and energy levels.
So it’s pretty important and the fact we can take care of ourselves and the planet by reducing food waste at the same time is amazing! For example, in the UK the majority of foods thrown away in consumer homes are gut friendly, fibre loaded fruit and vegetables. The Gut Health Doctor also discussed fermenting vegetables as a way of feeding your gut microbes and keeping them nice and healthy, this is also a fantastic way of preserving veg and making it last longer.
I’ll be discussing more links between food waste reduction and gut health on my Insta and Facebook and providing some gut friendly, Waste-less recipes soon.
4. I save money
I shudder to think how much money I used to waste on food I’d buy and then eventually throw away, but according to WRAP it’s in the region of £600 a year.
And it’s not just the waste that costs. As I said in the first point, it’s so easy these days with Deliveroo and Just Eat to decide you can’t be bothered to cook and to order out instead which leads to the food in your fridge getting thrown out. You’ve wasted the money you spent on that food and spent an extra £20 on takeout.
5. I eat more vegetables now
Until about 4 years ago I swear I had the mentality of 6 year old when it came to vegetables! They were the yucky bit of the meal that you have to eat because ‘it’s good for you’! Now I’ve learnt how to cook so many different vegetables in ways that make them not only delicious but something I enthusiastically eat in their own right, rather than as a side. From chilli and garlic sauteed broccoli with roasted almonds (mind blowing and takes 5 minutes – recipe to follow) to roasted cauliflower sprinkled with cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, cayenne and a little salt. 🤤
This has also meant I eat less processed foods which are just packed with additives, preservatives and secret sugar or salt and instead cook fresh with a lot more confidence and ease.
6. I eat less meat
This is definitely a personal decision and not one I would expect anyone else to make. But when I started to learn more about food waste and learnt how much meat and dairy is wasted and how astronomical the environmental impacts of this was I resolved (after 6 months of battling with myself) to begin eating more plant based. As a result I’ve thrown out no meat or dairy for as long as I can remember and am happy knowing that, if only a small one as a single person, I’m helping make an impact on Greenhouse gas levels.