How to minimise food waste


The pattern with which we buy and eat food tends to be produce – use – dispose.

We don’t really see food as a highly valuable product which ends up leading to almost one third of global food production being wasted.

We need to be more efficient with all the parts of a food product. If we change what we define as waste when we produce food, suddenly we realise that a ton of the things we throw away have value!

This concept is called a ‘circular food economy’ and considers food waste in the same way that we now expect other types of waste to be handled; reduce, reuse and recycle.

As individuals, communities and businesses, we can tackle the problem in several key ways:


Reducing waste through purchasing practices, product choices and menu design.

Challenge the Protein Centred Diet

Livestock rearing uses land, grains and water resources that may be more efficiently used to feed people – consider rebalancing a meat focused menu with some vegetarian dishes.

Keep Track of Stocks

Regularly taking stock of what you have in order to purchase food proportionally and cook food according to its perishability – incorporate this into your menu design or diet!

Plate Appropriate Portion Sizes (AKA using smaller dinnerware)

Evidence suggests that sizes of plates, spoons and glasses can unconsciously influence how much food someone eats. For example, using large plates can make food appear smaller — often leading to waste.

Swapping your usual plate, bowl or serving spoon for a smaller alternative can reduce the helping of food and prevent wasteful portioning.

Most people feel just as full having eaten from a smaller dish as from a large one.

Use Your Plate as a Portion Guide

If measuring or weighing food isn’t appealing, try using your plate or bowl as a portion control guide.

A rough guide for each meal is:

  • Vegetables or salad: Half a plate
  • High-quality protein: Quarter of a plate — this includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and pulses
  • Complex carbs: Quarter of a plate — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • High-fat foods: Half a tablespoon (7 grams) — including cheese, oils and butter

Remember that this is a rough guide, as people have different dietary needs. For example, those who are more physically active often require more food.

As vegetables and salad are naturally low in calories but high in fibre and other nutrients, filling up on these may help you avoid overeating calorie-dense foods.

If you want extra guidance, some manufacturers sell portion-control plates.

Use Your Hands as a Serving Guide

Another way to gauge appropriate portion size without any measuring tools is by simply using your hands. As your hands usually correspond to your body size, bigger people who require more food typically have bigger hands.

A rough guide for each meal is:

  • High-protein foods: A palm-sized serving for women and two palm-sized portions for men — such as meat, fish, poultry and beans
  • Vegetables and salads: A fist-sized portion for women and two fist-sized portions for men
  • High-carb foods: One cupped-hand portion for women and two for men — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • High-fat foods: One thumb-sized portion for women and two for men — such as butter, oils and nuts

Be Aware of Suitable Serving Size

Many factors affect portion control. Investing in a scale or measuring cup to weigh food and correctly assess your intake.

Knowing recommended serving sizes for commonly eaten foods can help you moderate your intake.

Here are some examples:

  • Cooked pasta or rice: 75 and 100 grams, respectively
  • Vegetables and salad: 150–300 grams
  • Breakfast cereal: 40 grams
  • Cooked beans: 90 grams
  • Nut butter: 2 tablespoons or 16 grams
  • Cooked meats: 85 grams

You don’t always have to measure your meals. However, doing so may be helpful for a short period to develop awareness of what an appropriate portion size looks like.

What to do with leftovers

Storing unplated food for staff, friends, freezer meals or even a pet or putting them in the compost helps reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfill.


What do you do with your broccoli stalk? Or your cauliflower leaves? Use them directly! On top of that, there are tons of opportunities for left over food products to be reused in the local economy.

‘Root to fruit’

Use unused parts of produce for chutneys, stocks, preserves, and purees. Vegetable pulp burgers, carrot top chutney and crispy cauliflower leaves are some simple ideas.

Stuff like left-over wine can be used for cooking or as a vinegar. Stale bread can be crushed into breadcrumbs!

What did our Ancestors do?

Incorporate dishes that have existed in regional food cultures for generations and which make use of the less frequently used or waste parts of your food.

For example: coq au vin, haggis or bread & butter pudding

Implement a circular food economy locally

Developing partnerships between producers is sometimes a great initiative for reducing food waste.

For example, a bakery could pass on its bread scraps to a beer brewer to brew a beer called ‘Kvass’, or a beer brewer could pass on its exhausted brewery grain to a baker for them to bake bread from the spent grain.

Use food scraps to feed animals! Maybe your neighbours could use your scraps. Did you know that one of the guys at the waste disposal site in Morzine takes used bread to feed his rabbits?

Bokashi composting uses spent beer grains, collect used beer grains from ibex brewery and consult our guide on how to compost here.


Actively seek out opportunities and engage with people in order to share and create tips and tricks to reduce your waste


Start cooking! There’s no better way to engage and advance your understanding of food waste than through direct experience of cooking.

Read up

Two free online courses hosted on and funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology will be starting in November 2020.

From Waste to Value: How to Tackle Food Waste

This course is aimed at individuals seeking to become better informed on the challenges of food waste – including employees in the food sector, restaurant owners and chefs, and concerned consumers.

Revolutionising the Food Chain with Technology

This course is aimed at entrepreneurs and enterprises seeking sustainable food waste solutions

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