Recent findings from a survey of 2,000 by InSinkErator have found that the average UK household throws out an astonishing 6.5kg of uneaten food each week. That's 338kg annually and hundreds of pounds in the bin!
We've put together some handy tips to help you waste less and save more money.
1. Plan & prepare
An ongoing shopping list can save you time, money, and help to reduce waste. Make sure you keep a list on your fridge or cupboard, somewhere that can be seen in the kitchen. Throughout the week, note down what you've run out of or need more of. This will help prevent doubling up or buying things that will just end up in the bin.
Planning meals can really help. When planning, try to alternate between fresh and frozen ingredients. You can always skip the frozen days when your plans change at the last minute or you decide to treat yourself to that takeaway!
2. Create a Food Saving Kit
You will need:
- Double duty zip lock bags that can be vacuum-packed. These will save space in your fridge and freezer.
- Tupperware boxes of different sizes and shapes. Cylindrical shapes are great for stews and soups! Margarine tubs, takeaway boxes, and jars make useful alternatives.
- Bread clips are super handy for sealing shut anything that comes in a plastic bag and will help prolong their life by keeping any air out.
- Use ice cube trays for leftover condiments, sauces, and juices. You can also freeze pesto, lemon and lime juice to make cooking a cinch.
3. Cook once and eat twice
When cooking a meal, always forward think and plan to prepare a second meal from the leftover ingredients or food. There are plenty of websites online that specialise in leftover recipes but BBC Good Food is a great place to start.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking...
- Instead of throwing out the bookends of a bread loaf or any stale slices, chop them up into cubes and fry with oil and garlic to make tasty croutons for salads and soups.
- Salad leaves are a common leftover, but don't throw them out just because they don't look clean! Give them a wash to get rid of any other bits of food and re-use them in another meal. They'll make a nice salad for lunch.
- Transform leftover mash into tomorrow's fishcakes. Just add flaked fish, season and refrigerate the patties ready for breadcrumbs the next day. You can also make hash browns!
- Pasta can be reused to fill out soup or make into a pasta salad.
- If the last few slices of cake are getting dry or stale, use them to make a delicious trifle. Just add jelly, custard, cream, and fruit!
4. Condiment Control
It's easy to open a jar of something sweet or savoury then forget about it until it's too late. Stop stockpiling those half empties and think outside of the jar to get the most of your sauces and dips...
- Use the last few spoonfuls of jam to make a delicious milkshake. Just add milk, shake and stir then pour into a chilled glass.
- Nutella and other chocolate spreads can be savoured right until the last lick by adding a few scoops of ice cream and slices of banana - a quick and easy sundae!
- If you have small dollops of ketchup, brown sauce or Thai chilli sauce, add them to cheese and toast for an extra kick.
- Cut open any plastic bottles before you throw them out. You will truly be shocked at how much is still left inside! You can transfer it to a smaller container.
5. Make food go the distance
Make sure you are correctly storing your food in your fridge to extend its life. Remember these fridge rules:
- Remember to keep your fridge temperature below 5°C.
- Wondering how to make your fruit and veg last longer? It should be stored in the fridge so keep these in the bottom drawers. The exception to this rule is bananas, which can be kept at room temperature.
- Meat and fish should be covered and kept on the shelf above the veggie drawers - commonly the coolest part of your fridge.
- Keep any cooked meats - like ham - and all your dairy products on the shelf above the raw meats.
- The top shelves are the warmest part of your fridge so keep spreads, eggs, and other general items there.
Make sure you keep onions, potatoes and in cool, dark cupboards. Extend the freshness of your potatoes by keeping them in a cool, dark place preferably in a breathable sack. Pop an apple in among them to help from sprouting too early.
6. Save it before you bin it!
Always err on the side of caution when it comes to meat and dairy products and always remember - if in doubt, chuck it out. There are a few foods though that can still be enjoyed even if they're a little out of date, including bread. It's one of the most thrown out staples, but can be easily put to use, so don't ever bin it unless you really have to.
Here are a few ideas to chew over...
- Bake your stale bread in the oven on a low heat until dry and then whizz it up in a blender to make breadcrumbs. Freeze in a sealed bag and use to coat fishcakes and chicken, or add to homemade burgers patties.
- Make garlic and bread soup. Heat up some stock, add pieces of the stale bread, salt and garlic. Simmer and add parsley, black pepper and cheese to taste.
- It's an old favourite, but stale bread really does make amazing bread and butter pudding. It also works well with croissants, hot cross buns, and most pastries.
7. More handy hints
- Keep food in its original packaging until it's ready to be eaten. It's been specifically designed to help the food keep it's best for as long as possible.
- If your herbs are on their way out, quickly freeze them in ice cube trays with some olive oil.
- Keep green peppers in airtight ziplock bags to keep them fresher and full of flavour.
- Avoid keeping bread in the fridge as it goes stale much faster. Instead, store your bread at room temperature with the bag tightly wound up with a bread clip. A cool, dark place such as bread bin will keep it extra fresh! Even better, freeze any bread for use another time.
Thanks for reading our article! Do you have any great tips on how to waste less food?
Please tell us in the comment section below!
clean and slice leeks and put in freezer bags in portion sizes into the freezer for soups and broths.You will always have leeks ready when you need them
Great tip Sharon, thanks for sharing!
Some great tips, but oh the typos & grammar mistakes! 'brad' instead of 'bread', 'air' in place of 'err' - and many others. Do please proofread before posting.
Hi Carole, thanks for the comment. I'm really sorry about that - I will take extra care in future! Anushka
Make leftover french stick loaf onto pizzas, Slice length ways and add pizza topping and bake.
Sounds good Tracey! I will add this tip to the article.
The most dangerous typo on here is "Remember to keep your fridge temperature below 5oC." That should be below 5 degrees C"
Whoopsie, thanks for pointing that out Keith, that has now been changed.
Dairy products, yes you are right that we 'should' be careful. But off milk won't harm you, it just won't taste very nice. If it smells past its best it can be used for drop scones and made into cheese (this sounds very complicated but isn't - it's more soft cottage-type cheese rather than camembert...) Many cheeses can be frozen too. They might not taste as good, but can be used for other things. I bought a whole wheel of stilton at M&S reduced to £4 not long ago, sliced it down and froze the portions. Still going strong in soups!!
Hi Kim. Wow, it sounds like you're a bit of a dairy expert! I'm not a big fan of cheese myself - I certainly didn't know you could freeze it. Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful tips - I'm sure our readers will find them very useful.
I use the OLIO app to share unwanted food. Sometimes I just prepare too much food or when I go on holiday I make sure I give away food before it could go bad. It helps me avoid wasting food and makes someone happy to get free food. Convenient and helpful app to do our bit for the environment. And sometimes I can also collect food from other people that saves me a bit of money as well.
Hi there. We'd actually never heard of OLIO before, so thanks for mentioning it! It sounds really great and is definitely something we'll be trying out :)
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