Reducing Summer Barbecue Food Waste

With the August bank holiday approaching, the barbecues are being fired back up (and hopefully the good weather returns!). But it’s easy to get overzealous with the food at barbecues and parties, so here are a few tips for reducing summer barbecue food waste.


As much as possible, keep food inside – or better yet, in the fridge.

It’s very tempting, especially when barbecuing, to leave food on the table outside and let everyone help themselves. But this mean that food can be left exposed for a long time, and it’s not recommended that perishable items (like barbecued meat, but also anything containing dairy or cooked dishes) should be left out of the fridge for more than two hours at most. Let your BBQ guests help themselves, and let the food cool, before instructing anyone who wants seconds to go help themselves from the fridge.


Cook as much as you can feasibly consume, and make sure leftovers get eaten ASAP.

Another barbecuing faux pas – assuming everyone will want a burger, and chicken, and steak, and… It’s better to ask before putting any food on the grill what everyone wants, and cook in batches rather than all at once to ensure not too much extra food is being cooked. Cooked meats are good for 3 or 4 days in the fridge, but be careful when reheating; certain meats (like chicken) should only be reheated once after cooking. Things like salad, potato salad, and coleslaw are also safe to consume as leftovers, but always err on the side of caution if you think something might have gone bad.


Discuss sharing food-making responsibilities in advance.

There’s nothing worse than eating the same leftovers for four days because everyone brought potato salad. If you’re hosting a get-together and asking people to bring food, assign dishes or courses. This will stop too many repeat dishes and lessen food waste.


Use tired or wilted produce in smoothies or ice lollies.

Leftover fruit salad? A few tired nectarines in the fruit bowl? It’s really easy to use less-than-perfect fruit (and vegetables!) in smoothies or ice lollies. You don’t even need a blender or food processor – you can put whole or partial pieces of fruit in a ice lolly mould and fill with sugar-free lemonade or juice, like in this recipe. An easy and tasty way to use up fruit before it goes bad.