Food Waste as a Student

With thousands of students entering university, living in halls of residence and being a “stay-at-home students” university can be an overwhelming experience. Learning to budget and save money on food can leave more room for course materials, transport and nights out. This can all be made easier if you are aware of how to shop effectively, and preserve and recycle your food.
As well as students, universities can support sustainability and reduce their food waste too. A research report was commissioned by the NUS services on behalf of SITA UK. In the report ‘Lifting the Lid: Student Attitudes and Behaviour Towards Recycling and Waste’ data showed how important a universities reputation can be if they adopted a sustainable philosophy. 
In addition, the way universities manage their resources can actually bring financial benefits back into the university. Landfill tax has increased to £72 per tonne and has risen to £80 per tonne. Therefore the incentive would be to avoid sending any recyclable materials to the landfill sites. 
Students can improve their university by using the People & Planet Green League. This measures the environmental and ethical performance of all 143 UK higher education institutions, ranking them in a yearly table published in The Guardian.
In regards to food, students do not have to live on beans on toast, spaghetti hoops and noodles throughout their years at university. Instead, they can use a combination of familiar stable foods to create quick and easy meals, plus reduce their food waste and encourage recycle their food waste.
For some first-year students cooking alone can be difficult, being used to home-cooked-meals, but having helpful tips can eliminate this anxiety and make cooking a creative and therapeutic process. 
The following are waste tips on cooking, reduce your food waste and save money. Be sure you have the necessary pots, pans and kitchen utensils to prepare your favourite meals, and perhaps purchase a basic recipe cook or printed recipes from the internet. 
Common herbs and spices
Having an array of common herbs and spices can transform food rapidly. These are the most common herbs and spices that every kitchen should have.  
  • Basil – fresh basil can be used for pesto sauce and tomato-based sauces. Dried basil is good for soup, herbed bread and omeletteS
  • Chilli powder – flavour stews, soups and sauces
  • Chives – fresh chives adds flavour to baked potatoes and salads. Dried chives in dips, dressings, soups and sauces
  • Cinnamon – best with baked goods including custard, puddings, cakes and cookies
  • Coriander  good with bean dishes, chutneys and curries
  • Cumin  great for curries, soups and stews
  • Dill  great in salads and herb bread
  • Curry powder  best used for curries and soups
  • Garlic  great for tomato-based sauce, garlic powder can be used as a substitute
  • Ginger  gingerbread biscuits, apple deserts and squash dishes
  • Mint – best with fruit salad
  • Nutmeg  used in custard and spiced cakes
  • Paprika  used in tomato sauces, casseroles and dips
  • Parsley  used for salads, salad dressings, soups and omelettes
  • Rosemary – used in stews, herbed bread and soups
  • Sage  used in salad dressing and soups
  • Thyme  used in soups and tomato-based dishes
  • Turmeric – best used in curries
Staple Foods
Keep staple items in your cupboard for long-lasting ingredients that can be used to make quick and tasty meals and drinks.
Cupboard items:
  • teabags
  • coffee
  • sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vinegar
  • ketchup
  • dried pasta
  • jam/marmalade/honey
  • soup(canned/instant)
  • tinned tomatoes
  • baked beans/spaghetti hoops
  • canned tuna
  • rice
  • tinned peas/sweet corn
  • potatoes
  • tinned fruit
  • long life milk
  • cooking oil
  • mixed herbs, spices and seasonings
  • biscuits

Fridge and freezer staples:

  • butter/spread
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • frozen mixed veg
  • frozen chicken breasts
  • frozen loaf of bread/pitta bread
  • frozen pizza
 List of quick meals:
  • Soup
  • Pasta bake
  • Jacket potatoes
  • Rice or instant rice
  • Fajitas
  • Curry
  • Granola
  • Omelette
  • Pitta bread pizza
  • Stir-fry
  • Nachos
  • Hummus and pitta bread
Food Waste Tips
  • Rotate food in your cupboards and fridge: Putting all the new food at the back of the fridge and cupboards and bring last week’s previous items to the front. This avoids mouldy food at the back of the cupboard and fridge.
  • Keep fruit separated: If you notice a fruit or vegetable that’s ripening faster than everything else, separate it from the group. Fruit bowls aren’t always the best idea. Bananas can make fruit ripen faster.
  •  Portion sizes: Serving the right sized portions help reduce food waste. If you eat with others you can let them help themselves to small portions. Also, you can tell them that they can come back for more when they have eaten their portion. Any leftovers can be covered and stored in the fridge or freezer once they have cooled down and used the following day.
  •  Unconventional breakfast: breakfast doesn’t have to be cereal, eggs or toast. Eat leftovers from the night for breakfast in the morning.
  • Check your fridge. Check your seals on your food, and check if the temperature is set between 1 and 5 degrees? This ensures your fridge will keep your food fresh for as long as possible.
  • Be adaptable: adapt recipes by using the same ingredients for different meals. For example, use tomato sauce for a pasta sauce, and by using curry power you can turn the sauce into a curry sauce.
  • Shop in local stores: many local Asian corner shops have cheaper staple items such as rice, pasta and noodles and spices that are cheaper than many commercial stores.
  • Buy in bulk: This is used for forward planning, meaning buying the basic in large quantities. For example, potatoes and carrots can be kept for long period of time in a cool dark place
  • Use leftovers: before throwing away edible food you should think whether you could use it for another meal.
  • Write a shopping list: Draw up a weekly meal plan, incorporating ingredients you already have, write a shopping list and try and stick to it. Try not to be swayed by impulse purchases or special offers, just buy what you need.
  • Use food clips and Tupperware Both of these help to keep food fresher for longer.
  • Try not to waste food: freeze any unused food, or use your caddy bin to recycle it. Freezer bags and food storage boxes are very handy.
  • Eat leftovers for lunch: Cooking extra portions for your evening meal.
  • Buy frozen: Frozen fruit and vegetables are underrated. They come pre-chopped and ready to use, are just as good for you and are often cheaper than fresh varieties.
  • Buy cheaper brands: most of the cheaper brands taste exactly the same as more expensive brands. Let your tongue be the judge and not your eyes, try cheaper brands and see if you want to switch brands.
  • Alternative products: Meat and chicken are typically the most expensive food ingredients on a shopping list. Buying meat and chicken alternatives (suitable for vegetarians) can save you less money.
  • Cook with pulses: Pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas are some of the cheapest foods on the shelf. You can use them in dishes to replace some of the chicken or meat, such as a chilli con carne with kidney beans or a chicken curry with chickpeas.
  • Freeze leftover bread: Bread is the most wasted household food, according to Love Food Hate Waste. Reduce waste by freezing bread, preferably in portions (for convenience) and when it’s at its freshest (for taste).
  • Take a packed lunch: Eat leftover food in Tupperware with you. It’s worth it, as making sandwiches yourself can save a lot of money. Also you can bring your own cold drinks (water or juice in a reusable bottle), or a flask of tea or coffee.
  • Online recipes: You can browse recipes and cooking tips. Also, there are student cooking pages and forums where you can share ideas with other students.
  • Buy meat from the butchers: Butchers sometimes do cheap deals, and the produce is fresh. Find a local butcher and get him to guide you through how to feed yourself on a tight budget.
  • Grow your own herbs: use a garden or windowsill to grow your own herbs, rather than buying fresh ones.
  • Local pizza: Local pizza stores tend to be cheaper than the bigger commercial pizza stores. Remember to break down the pizza boxes after use and recycle them.
  • Understand ‘Best before’ This means the food tastes or looks at its best ‘before’ the date shown. The only exception is eggs, which shouldn’t be eaten after this date because salmonella could start to multiply after this date.
  • Understand ‘Display until’ ‘Display until’ and ‘sell by’ is only needed for staff members and is used so they know when to take a product off the shelf.
  • Understand ‘Use by’ This literally means use the product by the date indicated. This is a very important health warning.
  • Natural material bags: saves money on plastic carrier bags and helps to store more food and being stronger and more eco-friendly.
  • Use helpful food waste apps: LFHW (Love Food Hate Waste) have a free food waste app which can help to eliminate food waste.
 Food Waste Tips in Halls
  • Share your food: If you have made too much food then perhaps you could share it with your roommates or some in halls.
  • Cook as a group – This is the cheapest way of eating, but having similar tastes and an agreed group budget works best.
  •  Have a cooking rota – everyone can take it in turns to cook for each other, but planning is essential.
  •  Come dine with me – You could run your own version of this show once a week with your roommates or other students or neighbours that live near you – you don’t have to score anyone’s food.
Food Waste Tips When Eating Out or Receiving Takeaways
  • Resist the urge to over-order  Think amount how much you can consume as one person if you’re eating alone. If you do buy too much, freeze, refrigerate or share the food with another people.
  •  Share a meal If you receive large restaurant portions share with a friend instead of buying two meals.
  •  Take home leftovers If you’ve finished eating out but you haven’t finished your food then take your food home by using a reusable container to save on packaging, or request a doggy bag

    "Shane Jordan is a man on a mission. He wants to inspire everybody to think twice about the amount of food they throw away and try fresh ways to give leftovers a new lease of life." (Gloucester Citizen)

    "Inventive... cross-cultural... borrowing techniques and recipes from all over the world." (The Independent)

    "Young, gifted and vegan" (Viva Life)

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