Taking up food photography has got me thinking about how much food waste is generated from this field. I’m not just talking about commercial food shoots, but down to the shoots by hobbyists like myself or even the Instagram food influencers who review and photograph more meals than they can reasonably consume.
I don’t need to preach about how we need to nurture and protect our environment, but I believe that it is our responsibility to do so. Apart from my lack of confidence in styling food, I also hesitate to mess up a dish that potentially may end up being inedible or wasted because we can’t finish it all before it goes off (especially when making extras as a backup). In struggling to find much information about the topic, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how to reduce food waste when shooting or styling food.
5 tips to reduce food waste when shooting food:
Tip 1: Plan meals around shoots
Batch cooking is something that happens in my house every Sunday. It is an extra effort to plan and prepare, but when it comes to weekdays I really appreciate being able to just grab something filling and nutritious during my lunch break.
That in mind, it helps to plan shoots around what I’m cooking that week. This week it’s leftover pasta that’s going into lunches because of a shoot I needed to do this weekend.
Mini tip: Because I separated all the different elements for the shoot, it means I can make any pasta sauce to go with the pasta throughout the week. I am not stuck with eating the same sauce for days on end and it keeps longer when not mixed with sauce.
Tip 2: Share with friends (when possible)
For sweets and desserts, I share them with friends who have bigger households or kids (in addition to sharing with my belly!) Especially as kids are starting to go back to school, cut up pieces of traybakes or biscuits make lovely snacks or treats.
Tip 3: Freeze ’em!
Many dishes / ingredients can be frozen – e.g. grate ginger, chopped herbs, cakes (both iced and uniced, see mini tip below), stews, cooked beans etc. Remember to date when they were frozen to help keep track of when they’re good til. A quick google will advise you on how long you can keep specific items
Mini tip: Cakes iced with buttercream or ganache freeze really well for up to 3 months. Portion it up and make sure it’s wrapped well to prevent as much moisture as possible from collecting inside.
Tip 4: The reduced section
Often supermarkets will have the reduced produce section, where you can find perfectly good produce that would otherwise be thrown away. It’s also a great creative exercise trying to come up with interesting combinations for dishes you would have never thought of!
Tip 5: Make friends with local businesses
There is a local bakery near where I live that I wanted to try. Little did I know, that this bakery is a wholesale bakery – embarrassing! It was a pleasant surprise when they offered me some bread they had leftover at the end of the day. Bread that were either experiments or extras from that day of baking. Who can say no to that!?
Making friends with local food businesses is a great way to support the community and maybe even get some lovely food to shoot and eat!
I hope these tips have provided you with a starting point in thinking about food waste when you embark on your next shoot, styling session or food trip.
- The Guardian’s Waste Not column
Loads of creative ideas on how to use up leftovers from chard stalks to pickle juice.
- Instagram is fuelling food waste
Article on the foodie influencer sphere and food waste