Food plays a major role in human health and it is an important part of cultural identity as well. However, what we eat and how we eat has a big impact on the environment and food waste has become a widely discussed theme in the past decade. Reducing food waste is absolutely essential, especially if we think that we live in a world where both tons of food is wasted and millions of people starve every day.
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Think that for every bit of food we throw away we are also throwing away the water, the energy, and the labour that was used to produce it, which translates into an absolute waste of resources. Resources that are desperately needed elsewhere.
What can we do to fight food waste? Or, even better, how to avoid food waste? Here are some ideas and options that are available in Sweden right now.
Karma is an app where you can rescue food items about to go to waste at reduced prices (mostly 50% off). Restaurants, bakeries and even supermarkets are associated with Karma, which means one can rescue meals from the day before, pastries and even supermarket articles with a short expiration date. The app has a map, so it’s easy to find the nearest rescue locations and you can even follow your favourite places and get notifications every time something is available to rescue. Read more about Karma here.
Plus: you know exactly what you are buying (there’s a picture, size and short description).
Minus: the best items are popular and you have to be fast to rescue them.
Personal favourites: a supermarket nearby where I often rescue sushi, cheese, bread, etc).
A relatively new option in Karma is to sign up for a box of rescued fruit or fruit and vegetables delivered to your door (check it out here). Karma complements the box with an email containing some recipes including the contents of the box for inspiration.
Plus: it reminds you of eating your fruit and veggies while avoiding wasting time in the supermarket.
Minus: some (far from everything!) fruit pieces are delivered on the verge of getting bad and need to be consumed quickly.
Personal favourites: the surprise factor and the little extras included sometimes, like a package of vegan cream or a smoothie bottle.
Too good to go
Too good to go is another food rescuing app that recently became available in Sweden (read more here). With this app, you can purchase a “magic box” which contains the surplus of food that restaurants, cafes and bakeries won’t sell anymore. The price is of course reduced and there’s also a map to easily find what’s available near you.
Plus: rescued meals are usually portion-packed and perfect to take to work the day after.
Minus: you don’t know what you get until you get it. Some places have tight pickup times.
Personal favourites: the bakeries – bread can never be bad and if you get too much you can always freeze it.
Matsmart is a website where you can purchase food articles at reduced prices – a bit like a supermarket. These can be items with a short expiration date, in the wrong season or that simply is the result of overproduction (read how it works here). The stock might be limited, but there are new things being added all the time and the prices are very nice! It’s easy to place orders and they even call you a hero when you are done.
Plus: Matsmart delivers all over Sweden.
Minus: it will make you want to buy everything. Don’t! Buy things you need or that you know you will consume, otherwise you will end up wasting food anyway.
Personal favourites: large packages of nuts!
Check your local supermarket for articles about to go bad or bread/pastries from the previous day, usually sold at half price. Not all supermarkets have these options, but it’s becoming more and more common.
Plus: easy access and you can check the article before you buy it.
Minus: not enough supermarkets have this option yet.
Personal favourites: fruit and vegetables. Sometimes I can’t even tell the difference between the rescue and the new ones.
Plan, eat, repeat
To reduce your own food waste you can plan your grocery shopping and your meals ahead. Eating it all including leftovers should also be part of the plan. This way, instead of solving the problem you can avoid it by tackling it at the root. Planning does take work and time, but you don’t need to plan every meal, leaving some space to, for instance, rescue food using one of the apps.
Plus: planning also avoids excessive buying, saving your wallet as well!
Minus: it takes time and organizational skills, but the more you do it the better you get at it.
Personal favourites: I always cook the double for dinner, to use the leftovers for lunch the day after. This saves me time during the week. I also plan the meals ahead and write them down – this helps to avoid all that thinking about dinner when we are starving and super tired after work or/and training.
Matkasse translates as “food bag” and it can be a great help in your weekly meal planning. There are numerous options and you can compare different ones here. In general, a matkasse provides the ingredients and the recipes to a pre-chosen amount of meals. Besides bringing some inspiration to your kitchen, matkasses are also a great chance to try new recipes, like vegetarian or vegan options if you are not used to it.
Plus: easy to plan and to introduce you to new recipes.
Minus: hard to choose among so many options.
Personal favourites: Linas matkasse is my favourite. One can choose the recipes, the ingredients are seasonal and of good quality and the recipes are delicious! I have learned to cook a lot of good and well balanced vegetarian recipes through my matkasses.
How about you? Have you thought about food waste before? Do you perhaps have other ideas to fight it?
You can read more on the theme in this post by the Newbie blogger Sara Fothergill.