A third of the food produced in the Netherlands is wasted. This means that 4.5 billion euros end up in the bin every year. Some of this consists of food that consumers have bought and then thrown away. First some hard numbers. With 34 kilos per person per year, the consumer is the biggest waster in the Netherlands. Families with (small) children and young people under the age of 25 throw out more food. The most wasted product? Bread! Every week, 60 million sandwiches are not eaten. That’s four wasted sandwiches per person per week. Dairy products, vegetables, fruit and potatoes follow bread; altogether good for 22 kilos per person per year. Meat is wasted relatively less, but due to the large climate impact that its production has, it is important to pay close attention to this. If everyone in the Netherlands does not waste food at home for one week, it will save 23 million meals and reduce CO2 emissions by around 40 million kilos.
Bread in particular is a product that is often thrown away. Photo: Margo Oosterveen.
Easy to do yourself
The key to change? Just do it and take small steps because they are easy to maintain. An overview with tips:
Start keeping track of what you throw away. In this way, you gain insight into what often ends up in the bin. For example, is it pasta or rice? Cook by measure and weigh what you need (How much pasta, rice and potatoes to cook per person? | Nutrition Center).
Half a white cabbage, broccoli stalk or overripe tomatoes left? Make soup or pasta sauce! Finely chop, add bouillon cube for extra flavor, cook briefly, then briefly add the puree stick. Leftover vegetables are also good to use in an omelet or quiche. Overripe fruit? Make a delicious smoothie (Cooking with Leftovers and Food Scraps | Nutrition Center).
Take some time to decide what you want to eat for the next few days. Check the pantry, fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Check out what’s left and what really needs to go. A shopping list prevents you from buying too much food. Also note how much of a product should be used. Research shows that more is bought quickly.
In the shop there are products for sale which can only be sold for a short time, but which can still be used or frozen. By buying these products, you save them from the trash, and you save money because these products are often discounted.
Store food in the right place and at the right temperature. Many products last longer than you think. If in doubt, look it up or check the storage guide (Saving food | Nutrition center).
Especially families with (small) children often throw away food. It is also difficult to assess how much the children are eating, and older children sometimes unexpectedly do not eat. Serve smaller portions so less food is left on the plate. Cook less or more and make one meal for two days. Let the children help when you use up leftovers, and they will learn to fight food waste in a fun way.
Things to do nearby
Share food with others and give it away. This can be done by taking a bowl to a neighbor, but also by participating in a local food sharing community. Around 100 groups are active in the Netherlands which share food. Local via Facebook: Prakkie Hoofddorp (https://www.prakkiehoofddorp.nl) or Prakkie Eten Over in Nieuw-Vennep.
Help from apps
Store tasty products left by local entrepreneurs at the end of the day via the To Good To Go app or a similar app. Always a surprise what’s left! The price is low and the food can be collected yourself. This is a fun way to save food, try new products and save money.
The Waste-Free Coach of Milieu Centraal is an app that helps with smart tips and fun challenges to prevent waste.
In addition to healthy and easy recipes, the Slim Cooking recipe app from the Nutrition Center also offers help with cooking, cooking and storing groceries.
Test of knowledge about food waste, storing or freezing food, storing food for a long time and choosing the right amount and preparation. A few quizzes in a row:
Milieu Centraal: https://www.milieucentraal.nl/eten-en-drinken/voedingselwas/quiz-limited-houdbaar/
Health Net: https://www.doenudequiz.nl/gezondheidsnet/invries/
Milieucentraal: https://www.milieucentraal.nl/eten-en-drinken/ Voedingselwas/quiz-verspil-me-niet/
Do you want to know more about food (waste)? Useful websites to help people on their way: