These days, I spend more time in the kitchen than anywhere else, but with more food to cook, there's also greater potential for waste.
As regular readers will know, I'm passionate about reducing food waste wherever I can, and take great care to make sure whatever I cook ends up on someone's plate. But of course, going waste-free doesn't happen overnight. It takes resolve, a little planning, and a combination of clever tricks, tips and hacks such as adapting your storage, embracing meal planning and making sure leftovers get used and stored as well.
You might not feel that individual households do much to contribute to food waste in the UK but in fact, 7.3 million tonnes of food is thrown out of UK homes every year at a cost of £13 billion - that's £60 per household every month or one in five of our shopping bags! And when you think about the impact food waste has on the environment as well as our pockets, you can really see why it's important.
Save Our Spuds
During the colder months, there's one food in particular that gets bought in huge quantities: the humble potato. But with a surge in potato sales comes a potential surge in waste too, and what a lot of waste it is!
As a nation, we buy 1.7 million tonnes of potatoes annually, and a shocking 730,000 tonnes are thrown away - that's 46% of all potatoes bought!
So what's the easiest way to do your part in cutting down on such waste? It's simply a case of mastering the best approach to storage, prep and how to make the most of leftovers.
I'm delighted to be working with Love Food Hate Waste, a charity dedicated to helping people reduce food waste in the home, on their latest campaign: #SaveOurSpuds.
Do you know how to care for your spuds?
Are you storing your spuds in tip-top condition? Let's find out with this quick quiz. And don't worry if you don't ace it, there are plenty of tips to come to help make sure you're not sending your spuds to the compost heap when they could be on your dinner plate.
What percentage of potatoes bought in the UK is thrown away?
A shocking 46% of potatoes go straight in the bin in the UK. Checking what you already have in the cupboards before shopping and meal planning ahead of time are two great ways to reduce waste.
What's the main reason for so much waste?
- Losing them
- Cooking them incorrectly
- Not being used in time
Most waste is caused by produce simply going off, so paying careful attention to when you bought your potatoes and planning in time eat them will help save you money and reduce your environmental footprint.
Of the 1,700,000 million tonnes of potatoes bought by households each year, how many tonnes are wasted?
730,000 tons is equivalent to over 5,200 blue whales or 121,000 elephants of wasted potatoes in the UK every single year!
Potatoes are likely to be thrown away in an amount greater than what?
It's so easy to buy more than you need, thinking you'll save money thanks to bulk buying, but if most of it ends up getting chucked out you're actually losing money.
With 800g of potatoes or over being the most common amount quantity thrown away, it's worth thinking about your food habits differently.
Next time you're food shopping, think about how much you'll truly use before you buy.
True or false? Most potato waste is thrown away still in its packaging.
You may think that whole bags of unused potatoes are the biggest sources of waste, but research indicates it's more a case of buying too much then throwing away the rest.
Again, if you make sure you only buy what you need, you'll reduce waste straight away.
True or false? Potatoes can't be used safely once the skin has started to turn green.
You needn't reject green potatoes. Cut away any part that has a telltale green tinge and the rest will be perfectly edible.
True or false? Potatoes can't be used once they've begun to sprout.
The parts of the potato that have sprouted (often called 'eyes') are perfectly natural - they're simply the beginnings of where a new plant would grow. A quick flick of the knife is all that's needed to get your potato back to its former glory.
Where are the potatoes best stored?
- On the kitchen counter
- Somewhere cool, dark and airy
- In the fruit bowl
Light is bad news for potatoes, be it artificial or natural light, so keep them somewhere dark and cool with decent airflow to keep them at their best for longer.
What are potatoes best stored in?
- Wrapped in cling film or a freezer bag
- Their own packaging, cloth, or natural fibre bag
- In a metal or wooden bowl
Keeping your spuds in the packaging they came in, or wrapping them in a cloth or bag, will make sure they don't get too much sunlight and gives them room to breathe, which they'll thank you for with added weeks of freshness.
True or false? Potatoes can be stored with any other veg.
It may surprise many, but potatoes are best kept away from strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic which can affect flavour and can release moisture and gases that will cause the other to spoil faster.
How did you do? Are you already giving your potatoes the love they deserve or could your storage habits be improved?
To brush up on your spud care and get some extra tips for getting the most out of every bag you buy, read on!
More ways to get the most out of your spuds
Thicken and bulk out soups
Rather than using cornflour or other thickening agents, use leftover mash to give a great boost of texture, nutrition and flavour to almost any soup.
Freeze and reheat chips
Try as you might, there's always the odd occasion where you order at the chippy only to find out a 'regular' portion means 'gigantic'. Rather than throwing them away, freeze them! You can then bake them in the oven when you need them - you'll be surprised by how fluffy on the outside and crispy on the inside they'll be when re-heated. Delicious!
Make 'mash browns'
Hash browns are commonly cooked with shredded potato, but these crispy, delicious and ready-in-five-minutes alternatives are a great way of using up leftovers. Just use mashed potato as a base and add whatever else you like - I love mine with chives.
It only takes a minute to form the rounds and fry or bake them with breakfast, and the payoff in tastiness is huge.
Whip up a potato salad
Potato salad is wonderfully easy and a great way to use up cooked potatoes when you've boiled too many. Simply pop into a bowl and stir in a little chopped onion, seasoning and a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise or yogurt. This family favourite that should keep for several days in the fridge and tastes delicious.
Even more inspiration
Watch this video for even more inspiration, and make sure to visit the Save Our Spuds section of the Love Food Hate Waste website for even more tips on how to store your potatoes and make the most out of all your other food.
And remember: Love Food Hate Waste!
This is a commissioned post in partnership with Love Food Hate Waste.