Most of the food wasted in the UK is from our homes, and of that, 70% is food we could have eaten (WRAP). There is so much we can do to reduce food waste and save money.
By following the reduce, reuse, recycle model and making use of these tips on shopping, cooking and storing food, you can make your food last longer and go further.
We’ve also put together some useful, printable resources on our Activities page, including a meal planning guide, food waste tracker and food share tool.
We’ve all done it – shopping when you’re hungry, getting distracted by the 2-for-1 offers and treats then getting home and still wondering what to eat for dinner. Shopping in this way often leads to an increase in food waste, but with a little bit of preparation you can save yourself some cash.
Before you shop, have a look in the kitchen and see what needs using up. Make a meal plan based around the items that will go off first and write your shopping list at the same time, so you only buy what you need. Be realistic; life can be busy so don’t forget to plan in simple meals or leftovers for the days you know you are short on time or won’t feel like cooking.
If you create the weekly meal plan with the other people in your household it can help with sharing out the cooking responsibility and getting everyone excited about food. Stick it on the fridge so everyone knows what’s for dinner. Check out our Activities section for a helpful meal planner.
The way you store your food is key to making it last longer and avoiding unnecessary waste.
Organise your fridge: For your fridge to work well and keep food fresh, leave space for cold air to circulate and set it to 5°C or below, as according to the Food Standards Agency.
Different parts of the fridge are warmer than others so store your food accordingly. Keep food that is quicker to go off such as yoghurt and leftovers on the top shelf, meat and fish should be stored on the lower shelves, keep vegetables in the drawer where it is more humid and use the door (the warmest part) for condiments.
Make friends with your freezer: Cook up your wilting veg into a soup, stew or curry to make it last longer. Store in meal-sized portions in the freezer for those busy days. Label your freezer meals – it might seem a bit much but your future self with thank you when you don’t mix up pumpkin soup and stewed apple.
There are some food that don’t freeze well, like fresh herbs and dairy, so plan ahead to use those up. However, a wide variety of food can be frozen. Check out these surprising foods you can freeze from Hubbub. Frozen wine anyone?
Know when room temperature is right: There are the obvious ones like tinned food and dried goods, but plenty of other food can be stored at room temperature too. Potatoes and other root veg like it dark and dry, as well as bread (in an airtight box or bag). Foods like tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and bananas are often kept in the fridge but actually prefer it at room temperature and this helps keep their flavour. Read more from Hubbub about storing fruit and veg.
Get to know your labels: Use by, best before date, display until…labels can be confusing. Luckily, Too Good To Go have created a simple explanation guide. In summary, do follow use by dates, ignore display until and use your senses to decide whether to eat food past its best before date.
Know your portion sizes
Making the right size portions for your household will help with avoiding annoying amounts of leftovers. Learn how to measure out the ideal amount of pasta or grains and ensure you always use that same measure. Love Food Hate Waste have a handy portion planner so you don’t have to guess.
Knowing the per person portion sizes also means you can accurately increase if you are having guests over or want to make extra for tomorrow’s lunch.
Use your leftovers and scraps
Even with a bit of planning and the best intentions, you may still have leftovers. Some of the most imaginative meals can come from trying to figure out how to use the random bits and pieces in the fridge. However, if you’re feeling more hungry than creative, there is help available!
We recommend heading to Love Food Hate Waste for loads of recipe ideas. You can search by ingredient if you’ve got something to use up. Check out Too Good To Go on Instagram for lots of tips and ideas. Food Savvy also have loads of leftovers recipes plus a quiz to generate tailored advice to help you reduce your waste.
If you do fancy getting creative in the kitchen, you may be surprised to learn about some of the ingredients you can actually eat (looking at you, banana skins!). Love Food Hate Waste have advice and inspiration for how to use the food you might usually throw away and we have some ideas for using food scraps for using up and saving food.
Compost the rest
It is excellent that in our city, food waste is collected with the regular weekly recycling. So for that unavoidable food waste, make sure you use your brown food caddy. Alternatively, if you’re really keen you could even start your own compost with this advice from BBC Good Food.
Keep the saver spirit when out and about
- Not feeling very hungry? Ask for a smaller portion.
- Take a container out and don’t be shy about asking to take your leftovers home.
- Use the Too Good To Go app to find amazing offers on great food from local independent shops at the end of the day.
So you’ve got a good idea how to make it happen.
Have a look at some practical ACTIVITIES you can read online or print out, so you can put these changes into practice at home.
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