Home Leisure & Lifestyle “Smart Packaging” Alone Won’t Fix the Food Waste Problem – Expert Shares Why Behaviour Change Is Also Key

“Smart Packaging” Alone Won’t Fix the Food Waste Problem – Expert Shares Why Behaviour Change Is Also Key

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McMaster University is testing innovative “smart packaging” technology that detects and signals spoilage, aiming to reduce foodborne illness and food waste. 

This breakthrough in smart packaging technology could significantly cut down food waste, saving billions and reducing the environmental impact. 

But food box delivery company Chefs Plate highlights that, while this is a positive step, the battle against food waste extends far beyond innovative packaging. A spokesperson said: “Individuals play a crucial role and we can make a significant difference through our collective efforts.”

By taking simple yet impactful actions, we can drive a meaningful reduction in food waste, and the team at Chefs Plate have provided six strategies to cut down on the amount of food ending up in the trash.

Proper storage techniques

Organising your fridge and pantry is essential for minimising waste. Keep items visible and easily accessible, using the FIFO (First In, First Out) method to ensure older items are used first. Without this, people often unintentionally let older items linger at the back of shelves or hidden behind newer purchases, leading to forgotten or expired foods.

Different foods have specific storage needs; for instance, potatoes, onions, and garlic should be stored in a cool, dark place, while herbs last longer when stored with their stems in water and covered loosely with plastic. Using airtight containers for leftovers helps keep them fresh longer and reduces spoilage.

Understanding expiration dates

It’s important to understand the various expiration dates on food products. Recognise the difference between “best before”, “sell by”. and “use by” dates, as many foods remain safe to eat after the “best before” date if stored properly. 

Utilise the entire ingredient

Make the most of your ingredients by using all parts of vegetables. Incorporate stems, leaves, and peels into your cooking; for example, broccoli stems can be sliced thin and added to stir-fries, and carrot tops can be blended into homemade pesto. 

Collect vegetable peels, ends, and bones to make homemade stock, storing these scraps in a freezer bag until you have enough for a batch. Get creative with leftovers by transforming them into new meals, such as using roast chicken for salads, sandwiches, or soups the next day. Despite its potential, this practice is often overlooked, yet it offers a practical solution for getting the most out of your ingredients.

Preservation methods

Freezing is an effective way to preserve excess food before it spoils, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and cooked meals. Be sure to label and date the items to keep track of what needs to be used first. 

Pickling and fermenting are excellent methods for extending the shelf life of many vegetables, and fermented foods can also add beneficial probiotics to your diet. Also, drying and dehydrating herbs, fruits, and some vegetables can help preserve them for longer periods while saving storage space.

Portion control and planning

Encouraging everyone in your household to be mindful of food waste is essential. When cooking, be mindful of portion sizes to avoid having too many leftovers. One quick and easy way to do this is to use a kitchen scale to measure ingredients accurately. This way, you can plan for leftovers rather intentionally and with purpose. 

Think about how you can repurpose ingredients; for example, stale bread can be made into croutons or breadcrumbs. Involve your family or household members in meal planning, and serve smaller portions to start with, allowing for seconds if you’re still hungry. 

Composting

Composting kitchen scraps that can’t be used otherwise, such as eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels, is a great way to reduce waste. This process turns these scraps into valuable, nutrient-rich soil for gardening, closing the loop on your food cycle and reducing the amount of waste unnecessarily sent to landfills.

For more ideas on how to reduce food waste, visit Chefs Plate.

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