Food Waste

Wasting food costs your household money, squanders the environmental impacts of growing food and occurs at the same time other people in our community do not have enough food. We developed a calculator that takes actual waste composition data to measure these impacts.

Using this calculator, the average London household throws out 125kg/year or about 2.4 kg/week of food that could have been eaten. This food:

  • Is worth about $600 per year per household (or about $75 million dollars in the City of London)
  • Is equivalent to about 320 meals per year or 1 meal per day
  • Requires about 0.6 acres of farmland to grow

To compare your household food waste composition to average London households click here.

In our recent household food waste survey, that your household completed, we learned that saving money was a key food waste reducing motivator for London households. We have delivered a household food waste reduction tool kit to help your household reduce food waste and save money. For details click here.

Fortunately, the solutions to reducing the amount of food that becomes waste are simple. We have assembled some great resources to help your household reduce the amount of food that becomes waste. As well, we have identified some possible free and for purchase apps that may be helpful (we don't have an interest in or endorse these apps).
(Click the relevant tip for more detail)
  • Tip# 1. Plan your meals ahead of time. This helps determine how much food you need.
  • Tip# 2. Make a grocery list and stick to it. No point spending money if you don't need to.
  • Tip#3. Store your food properly. You just bought it, let's keep it edible for as long as possible.
  • Tip#4. Prepare just enough. Unless you love leftovers, too much just means money in the garbage.
  • Tip#5. Eat those leftovers. No point putting your shopping, storage and cooking efforts in the garbage.

Household Food Waste Composition

We have developed a tool that will help you compare your food waste composition to the average London households.
Estimate the per-cent of your household's food waste that is:

Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.   Bread and Baked Goods:
Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.   Meat and Fish:
Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.  Dairy:
Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.  Dried Food (e.g. cereal, dry pasta):
Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.  Fruits and Vegetables:
Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.  Other:

Please make sure the total is 100%

Breakdown of estimated food waste at your household                                 Average London household
This text is displayed if your browser does not support HTML5 Canvas. Average London Household Food Waste

NOTE:This tool uses average household food waste composition data, gathered in London. Depending on how much food your household throws out this estimate could be lower or higher than the amount shown.

Food Waste Reduction Tool Kit

We have provided you with a Food Waste Reduction Kit to get you started. Here are some of the key items:

Fridge Magnet and Post Card to remind you how to reduce food waste Fridge Magnet
Some of you will have received a Rubbermaid Freshworks to help get you started. See inside container for instructions or here: Picture 1
Meal planning/grocery list pads and freezer stickers Picture 2Freezer stickers Picture 3
Some of you will have received additional containers and items to help you reduce your food waste


A bit of planning can go a long way to helping you minimize the amount of food that becomes waste.

  1. What is your family going to eat in the coming week? Planning this will help you develop accurate grocery lists and buy only the food you need. There are a number of handy meal planning apps including: Mealime and Mealplan


General food waste reduction tips:


  1. Create a grocery list (and stick to it) based on a meal plan, taking into account food you already have on hand before your trip to the grocery store. There a number of handy shopping list apps including:
  2. We are often tempted by "in-store specials", 2 for 1 deals and other sales. They can save you money if you eat all of the food. If you buy too much it actually ends up costing you more money as well as resulting in food waste
  3. Money saving tip! Purchasing imperfect fruits and vegetables save you money while not losing out on nutritional value of the food.


Food buying tips:
Meal planning tips:


You've just spent a lot of money buying food for yourself or your family. Proper storage can help food last longer so that it ends up in your stomach and not the garbage.


  1. To increase the lifespan of food products, fridges should be kept at or just below 4.4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and freezers should be kept at -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. High humidity drawers should be used for fruits and vegetables that typically wilt (i.e. carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, cucumber, green beans).
  3. Low humidity drawers should be used for fruits and vegetables that typically rot (i.e. pears, apples, grapes, mushrooms, peppers, lemons).
  4. The coldest part of the fridge is directly about the bottom drawers and should be used for meat, poultry or fish. The middle shelves are second coldest and should be used to store eggs, milk and other dairy products. The top shelf is the warmest shelf in the fridge and should be reserved for leftovers or items that are readily consumable (i.e. drinks, field berries).
  5. It is very important to not overfill your fridge. Overfilling of a fridge causes a lack of cold air circulation, which causes food to perish earlier.


Fridge storage tips:


  1. Check out this produce infographic
  2. Berries should never be washed unless they are to be used right away. Washing and placing back in the fridge has been found to cause an increase in mold formation.
  3. Cheese should never be exposed to the air or skin. Contact with cheese causes a bacterial reaction which leads to premature mold on the cheese. The trick for cheese is to cut only what is needed with a knife, without removing the wrapping or touching the cheese that is to not be used right away.
  4. Bread, potatoes, pineapples and onions are best stored in cool, dry places and not in the fridge.
  5. Bananas, apples and tomatoes all produce natural gases which cause surrounding produce to ripen faster, therefore they should be stored separately.
  6. Raw foods that are cooked can be refrozen, or raw frozen foods that are then cooked can be refrozen (i.e. taco meat, spaghetti sauce from frozen ground beef).


Fresh food preservation tips:

"BEST BEFORE"...does not mean Worst After:

Did you know that "Best Before" dates:
  • Refer to quality and shelf life of food that has not been opened and not safety
  • Provide information on how long food will maintain its best flavour, texture and nutritional value
  • In Canada "Best Before" dates are required for foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less
  • There are many foods that come with "Best Before" dates even though they don't need it (e.g. dry food such as pasta, canned goods and frozen foods)
  • Once a food, with a "Best Before" date has been opened its important to follow storage instructions such as "keep refrigerated".


Date labelling on pre-packaged foods


You don't need to be Gordon Ramsay (or take his abuse) to cook up a great meal. Unless you are a big leftover eater the key to reducing the amount of food that becomes waste is making sure you know how to prepare just enough.

Some of the information from planning your meals (Tip#1) can get you started.

  1. Adults eat about 750 grams per meal. We have a tendency to make more food, than necessary, when at home because we are concerned about running out. To avoid this try cooking 20-30% less than you normally would.
  2. Some of us are great cooks, some of us not so much. That said with a little practice we can all do it. For some great kitchen tips see


If you went to all the effort to buy it and then prepare try your best to make sure it all gets eaten.

  1. Brown-bag them for work or school for a free packed lunch. If you don't want to eat leftovers the day after they're cooked, freeze and save them for later (just remember to note when you froze them so you can use them up in a timely fashion).
  2. Check out this comprehensive infographic that provides you with tips on how to use your leftover food