Today (27/04/22) is Stop Food Waste day.
Whilst we will live through the ever growing cost of living crisis, we need to be saving money where we can as well as the planet.
Kate Hall is a Food Waste Expert and Founder of The Full Freezer. and has written this helpful blog post to do just that.
1. Make sure your fridge is cold enough
Did you know, making sure your fridge is 5°C or colder can help foods such as milk, fruit and veg last as many as three days longer? Grab yourself a fridge thermometer to check the temperature if there isn’t one inbuilt, and check your appliance instructions to make sure you’ve got your fridge working properly (they should be online if you haven’t got the paper copy)!
Also never leave your fridge door open for longer than necessary, and don’t ever put warm or hot food in it.
2. Understand date labels
In the UK, packaged foods will usually be labelled with a ‘Use By’ or a ‘Best Before’ date. Whilst ‘Use By’ dates are there for our safety, and foods should not be consumed after these dates, ‘Best Before’ is purely there as a guide on quality. So, if your food has a Best Before and it looks and smells okay, don’t bin it!
3. Store your food properly
Some foods can cause others to go off faster, and how you store your foods can also impact their shelf-life. For example, potatoes and onions should both be stored in a cool, dark place, but never together! It’s also a good idea to store your bananas (and any cut flowers!) away from other fruits, as they give off ethylene gas which will make other fruits ripen faster. If your food is packaged, always check the pack for guidance on how best to store it.
4. Love your leftovers
Leftovers can often end up straight in the bin, or stuffed in the fridge for a few days before chucking them. A couple of things you can do to make better use of them are:
1) Serve smaller portions and go back for seconds rather than loading your plate up – that way you have leftovers, not plate waste
2) Cool any leftovers within 2 hours (1 hour for rice), then cover and refrigerate to keep them safe to eat
3) Eat leftovers within 48 hours, and if you know you won’t eat them, freeze them for another day!
5. Check what you’ve got, then make a list and stick to it
If you’re going to the shops, make sure you always check your fridge, cupboards and freezer before you go. It can be tempting to buy things out of habit, or because they’re on offer, but if your budget is being squeezed, things you have in stock are the things you can easily cut out. By having a plan and a list, it’s much easier to ensure you don’t go off course and buy far more than you need.
6. Be a yellow-sticker hero
Most shops will reduce products an hour or so before they close, if not earlier. Ask in your local shop if there’s a standard time for reductions, and be proud to shop yellow-sticker. By buying these foods, you save yourself money but you’re also saving the foods (and packaging!) from going into landfill. Save food, save money, save the planet – what’s not to love!
7. Get ‘appy’
There are some brilliant apps out there which help to ensure food doesn’t go to waste, and this can often mean getting some substantially reduced goodies. Check out Olio and Too Good to Go for stacks of food you can lay claim to today.
8. Make Intentional Leftovers & ‘Bulk Out’ Your Meals
A great way of making the best use of your ingredients is to make intentional leftovers. If you’re making a meal that you love, simply double up the quantity and freeze half. If you are a meat eater, instead of doubling up the meat, add extra veggies and pulses (such as lentils) to bulk the dish out.
Cool within 2 hours, then freeze in usable portions. I like to freeze flat in freezer bags as this allows me to fit more in my freezer, protects the food effectively and is quick to defrost.
9. Buy frozen
If you often end up wasting leftover ingredients (particularly veggies), be sure to check out your supermarket’s frozen food aisle. Whilst some frozen foods will be more expensive than fresh, they will last much longer, so you’re less likely to waste them. There are also some ingredients (such as spinach), which works out far cheaper than buying fresh.
10. Learn to freeze
And if you’re not keen on buying shop-frozen foods, consider freezing your own! The average UK family wastes over £700 a year throwing away food that could have been eaten, often because they simply didn’t get to it in time. Your freezer allows you to press a pause button on that food; and you don’t even need to batch cook! Most foods can be frozen as single individual ingredients, and can then be cooked with straight from frozen. If you would like to learn more about doing this, please check out my bio below.
About the author
Kate Hall is a Food Waste Expert and Founder of The Full Freezer.
Kate helps busy households to reduce their food waste and cook from scratch more easily by using their home freezers more effectively. Unlike batch cooking, The Full Freezer Method is completely flexible and allows families to easily enjoy a wide variety of meals.
Kate has been featured by BBC Food & BBC Radio, and has appeared live on Channel 4’s ‘Steph’s Packed Lunch’ sharing her food waste hacks. She has also appeared in publications including Prima magazine, The Telegraph and Fabulous magazine.
To find out more about how you could reduce your food waste and save money follow Kate @TheFullFreezer:
Listen to Kate’s tips
I gave these tips on BBC Radio London