Rising Food Costs – How to Reduce Food Waste when Weaning.
Food safety expert, Jenna Brown MCIEH (aka @Foodsafetymum), gives us her top tips to reduce food waste when weaning, without compromising on the food safety of those leftovers!
Food prices are now at a 14 year high and with 70% of food waste coming from our homes it’s important than ever that we know how to reduce waste when we can. As well as helping the environment, it is estimated that the average family of 4 can save you up to £30 a week (£730 a year!) by reducing the amount of edible food that they throw away.
If you’ve just started on the Baby Led Weaning journey (or you are a seasoned pro!) you’ll already be familiar with the fact that those small tummies & ever-changing appetites of our little ones can mean that you’re often throwing away more food than you’d like…
Food waste is generally a big problem, not only for our wallets but also for the planet and when weaning, this food waste can feel out of our control. Fear not though, there are things we can do to help waste less food and knowing how to handle food & leftovers safely will help you to reduce your food waste without compromising on safety!
Research shows that food 'not being used in time' and cooking, preparing or serving too much food are 2 of the most common reasons for food waste in our homes. So, here’s what you need to know…
- Know the difference between Use By & Best Before dates
It’s important not to confuse the two - sometimes it is just not worth taking the risk when our little one’s are involved! Put simply…
- Use by dates are there for your safety – These dates must not be ignored as you often can’t tell if food is unsafe by its appearance, smell or taste! The good news is that it is perfectly safe to cook or freeze food right up until (and including!) the use by date.
On the other hand….
- Best before dates are about quality – Food is safe to eat past its best before date providing there are no signs of mould or decay, but the food just might not taste as good!
And don’t forget to also keep checking on packs in the fridge that have been opened! You may have had another week (or even 2!) on your unopened packet of ham… but opening will change the shelf life and usually mean it needs to be used within the next couple of days or be popped in the freezer.
- Love those leftovers!
The good news is, providing you haven’t already reheated the meal from another day, you can keep any untouched leftovers and freeze almost anything! (Just make sure you pop leftovers in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking)
Use any leftovers kept in the fridge within 2 days (1 day for rice dishes). Remember that the fridge will slow down the growth of bacteria whilst the freezer acts as a “pause” button on food so if you don’t think you’re going to use your leftovers within the next couple of days, pop them in the freezer as soon as possible!
- Serve smaller portions
Further to the point above, I’m a HUGE advocate for keeping leftovers, but do not keep any half-eaten food or leftovers where the spoon has been ‘double dipped’. Bacteria from your baby’s mouth is transferred to the spoon and then into the food, which could then cause the bacteria to multiply in any saved leftovers.
Serve smaller portions (with the option of more if you like) is a great way around this! Always transfer food from the jar into a separate dish so you can safely keep your baby’s untouched leftovers.
- Freeze food in baby friendly portions
Freezing is just like pressing ‘pause’ on your food and is the EASIEST way to make your food last so much longer! However, food should only be reheated once and any defrosted food should be consumed within 24 hours so make sure you divide your baby’s food into baby-friendly portions so you only ever defrost & reheat as much as you need for one meal. This is particularly important if you’re freezing foods that won’t be eaten by the whole family once defrosted; like purees or baby friendly snacks.
- Organise your fridge
Organising your fridge so there is a first in-first out rotation system will help make sure you put new foods at the back and will ensure you naturally use older products with a shorter shelf life first! In addition, make sure your fridge is kept below 5C as this will help keep the food in your fridge safer and fresher for longer.
- Invest in equipment to help save food from the floor
When you’re Baby Led Weaning, the Tidy Tot Bib & Tray Kit (which you can purchase here!) are a necessity to help avoid all that lovingly prepared food ending up straight on the floor!
Hopefully this blog has given you the tips you need to help you feel in control of reducing your food waste when weaning. In a world where a third of all food produced globally goes to waste, with the average UK household wasting an equivalent of 8 meals a week, anything we can do to reduce our wastage is a win! For more information on food safety when weaning & more tips, follow Jenna on Instagram & TikTok @foodsafetymum.
 WRAP; Food Surplus and Waste in the UK Key Facts