You may remember that I have partnered up with FoodSaver Fresh to test out their system over a prolonged period of time rather than an “I tried it once and it’s Fab’ review which is no use to anyone quite frankly. I’ve written two posts already a ‘First Impressions’ post and a ‘How is it Doing Two Weeks Later?’ follow up post. Today I’m looking at the juicy topic of food waste, in the light of some research that FoodSaver has passed on to me showing just how much we are all binning every year, as well as giving you a performance update two months on and looking at ways of reducing food waste at home.

What is the FoodSaver Fresh?

In a nutshell, the FoodSaver Fresh is a vacuum sealing solution, helping to make short-term food storage easier and more convenient than ever.  By removing air from specifically designed vacuum containers, the FoodSaver Fresh forms a powerful airtight seal enabling households to reduce waste while also helping to keep food costs down. To read more have a look at my previous posts here and here.

FoodSaver Fresh Preservation System - vacuum packed food preservation to help reduce food waste

So, Am I Still Impressed Two Months On?

Short answer, yes, but before I tell you why and what I’ve been using it for I want to have a closer look at the food waste research that I’ve been sent. The research delved into the habits we have around storing and eating our favourite foods, the level of waste and our lack of knowledge about the causes of waste. Rather than just throw stats at you and waffle on about my own experiences I decided to ask my lovely community over on my Facebook Page a few questions about food waste in their households. With Brits throwing away nearly 2.5 billion food items each year, and with almost 3,000 food items per person wasted over the course of an average adult lifetime, I think a lot of us are thinking about reducing food waste, both for our own pockets and for the wider environment. I was interested to see how my readers’ experience compared with the research so I asked them these searching questions and they were kind enough to answer them in detail.

  • What food do you throw away unused the most often?

Answers included potatoes, cheese, soft fruit and umpteen pots of uneaten Coleslaw but, most common amongst my small sample was the humble salad leaf. Too often forgotten at the back of the fridge and quick to turn from fresh, crisp and appetising to limp, soggy and vile. One reader recounted how her salad leaves all too often get pushed to the back of the fridge where they freeze and turn to mush – I’ve done this myself and the result is not remotely appetising, who wants to eat slime for goodness sake?! I don’t think even the opportunistic slugs which occasionally meander in from my garden would want them. My followers’ experiences backed up FoodSaver’s research which showed that more than a third of the nation (35%) are throwing away leaves on a regular basis, this in spite of the fact that lettuce is one of the most expensive foods to produce versus nutritional value! Those little bags of leaves are very pricey and, while most of my respondents compost their food waste themselves or pop it into council food waste boxes, there is no doubt that they would rather be eating it than chucking it!

Bread is also all too often bin bound (24% of it according to the research) and I know we have been guilty of this in our house – Mr TS has a bit of a fresh bread obsession and the ends of older loaves often get shoved to the back of the cupboard to grow nice fluffy green coats before they are found again. My test group backed this up with several of them siting bread as one of the things they most often threw away unused.

  • How many food items, on average, do you throw away each month?

I wasn’t surprised to find that some of my respondents barely threw anything away, composting it themselves, feeding it to chickens or allowing the dog to hoover up leftovers, but the consensus of opinion was that most people are throwing away far too much and want to find solutions to their food waste problems. The research findings show that we throw away an average of four food items a month because they have gone out of date, which equates to 2,894 over the course of an average adult lifetime! With nearly a quarter of the nation (23%) admitting that they have a tendency to waste food in their household and almost half (49%) of Brits wanting to do more to avoid food waste this is clearly a conversation we should be having and we need to be sharing tips for reducing waste.

Here are some real life responses which back up that research:

PC: Too many! Hard to say though as varies a bit. At least five a week I’d say. Things that get lost at the back of the fridge or not fully finished off. Food waste is something I’m really trying to cut back this year.

AB: Far too much although we are getting better and making concerted efforts to try and use what we have. The back of the fridge is a nightmare. I find if we use some form of box to store things (esp veg) in the fridge it helps as you take the box out and see everything.

HC: 1/2 bag salad, that bag of vegetables, small tub cream.

CR: Usually one food bin bag a week, so 4/5 bags a month – they aren’t always full.

So, How Can We Go About Reducing Food Waste and Where Does the FoodSaver Fresh Come in?

My readers had lots of tips for reducing food waste, sharing the things which work for them. A lot of them home compost, some of them try to use up leftover fruit and veg in soups and smoothies and the freezer is many people’s friend while meal planning helps ensure that people don’t buy more than they need in the first place. However my little bit of research and the FoodSaver findings show that there is a definite need to ensure that once the fruit and veg is home it is kept fresh for as long as possible so that it can be used efficiently and economically and doesn’t make it as far as the compost bin in the first place!

This is where the FoodSaver Fresh System comes in! Since I first started using it two months ago I have noticed a significant drop in the amount of food I am popping into the compost bucket which means I am being far more efficient (rare with me so something to celebrate) and I am saving money. Those salad leaves and raspberries last far longer once I’ve put them into a FoodSaver box and have vacuumed the air out – the boxes are clear too which means I can see what’s in them and they don’t get shoved to the back of the fridge behind everything else.

FoodSaver Challenge - vacuum packing food at home to reduce food waste

But I’m not just using it for salad leaves and soft fruit – it has become an essential part of my kitchen equipment, I’ve definitely got a FoodSaver habit! Here are a few of the things I’ve used it for over Christmas and into the new year:

  • It’s great as a stock box for all those veg scraps – I have one box which I keep especially for this purpose. I add potato and carrot peelings, root veg tops and bottoms and onion skins throughout the week before chucking them all into a pot with water, miso, wine, garlic and fresh herbs to make a richly flavoured stock to use throughout the following week – this makes me very happy!
  • You’ll be seeing a recipe for vegan chocolate mousse using aquafaba popping up here in the next week or so – if you haven’t heard of aquafaba yet it is the answer to many a vegan’s sweet dreams. Basically it is bean juice, usually from a can of chickpeas! That stuff we all used to pour down the sink turns out to be one of the most useful ingredients! It has an uncanny ability to froth up just like egg whites to be folded into mousses or to bake into meltingly delicious meringues – it’s really quite astounding and, guess what? Yup, it keeps really well in a FoodSaver Fresh box! I don’t usually want to whip up a dessert straight after popping a can of chickpeas into my curry but I do want to make one a few days later for Sunday lunch. I used to put it into a cup which then got (you guessed it) shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten – now I can spot it, it’s fresh and I use it – hoorah!
  • Crackers stay really fresh and crisp – no, I don’t mean Christmas crackers you giggling there at the back, I mean crackers for spreads and dips!
  • Nut and Seeds – I use a lot of nuts and seeds and it makes sense to buy them in bulk to save money but this does mean they are prone to going rancid if not stored properly. Vacuum packing them in the FoodSaver is a perfect solution to this!
  • Bread – crumbed and cubed. I use a lot of breadcrumbs in nut roasts, sausage rollsburgers and as coatings for falafels, potato cakes and more. Having them to hand in a box in the fridge is really useful as is having ready cubed bread for croutons to pop into winter soups making them more substantial when I’m after a quick comfort food.
  • Herbs – this is my favourite! I love using fresh herbs but, particularly in the winter, they can wilt/go mouldy so quickly. Having them all fresh and perky whenever I want them is FAB. 🙂

FoodSaver’s research also shows how many people are wasting food because they are confused about how to store it so that is what I will be looking at in my next post. I’ll be asking my Facebook followers some more questions about food storage as well as exploring some popular food myths and the affect they have on behaviour. I’ll be reporting my findings back here in two week’s time.

Which food items do you find yourself throwing away more often than you’d like? Leave a comment here and do pop over to my Facebook Page and Twitter to join in the conversation about reducing food waste. 

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