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These sixteen easy ways to reduce food waste will help make your food go further and save you money. Why not try some of them today?
Are you struggling to manage your grocery list and limit trips to the shops? Do you find that you are throwing away good food? These tips for making your food go further will help you buy what you need and make it last longer. You will also save money on your food bills.
Every year in the UK we throw away 4.2 million tonnes of good food. When you think of the effort it takes to grow and farm food this is a terrible waste.
By throwing away food we are throwing away our money. The average family could save up to £700 a year by throwing away less food.
So how can reduce food waste? Here are twelve easy ways.
1. Meal Planning
How often do you go to the supermarket and just throw food into the trolley randomly?
By doing this you end up with lots of food but nothing that could actually be used in a meal. By taking the time to write a meal plan before you go and listing the ingredients you need you can save money.
The idea is simple, write down what you are going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next week or two weeks. Look though the recipe and write down the ingredients you need. Check what you already have in and then write a shopping list. This ensures you buy food that you can use for meals.
You can find detailed information on how to do this in learn to meal plan like a boss. Why not join my free email course that will teach you how to meal plan in six twenty minute lessons with action steps?
2. Check Your Cupboards
Make a list of all the food you already have in the house and make meals using the food that you have in.
This will force you out of your comfort zone so you try out new recipes or old favourites you haven’t make for ages.
3. Check Your Expiry Dates
All food has an expiry date. Try to create meals using food that expires first, that way your food will last longer.
Do you know the difference between Best Before and Use By Date? Here is a quick guide:
- USE BY – You will find this on fresh products that go off, like meat, fish, and milk. You have to use the food before the date indicated.
- BEST BEFORE – This is found on frozen, dried, and tinned food. The date is about quality. The food will be at its best before this date but are often edible after this date.
4. Write a List
How many times have you gone shopping only to find you already have the ingredients? There was a time when I bought right every time I went shopping and had about 20 packs in the cupboard. Write a list using your meal plan and the list of ingredients you already have.
If you organise the list by where items are in store, you will also save time shopping.
5. Don’t Buy More Than You Need
While it can be tempting to do a big shop once a month, this can lead to you getting more fresh produce than you need which leads to waste. I tend to stock up my freezer and cupboards once a month and do a weekly shop for milk, bread and fruit and vegetables. That way nothing goes to waste.
6. Calculate Portion Sizes
One of the things I consistently struggle with when making meals is getting the portion sizes correct. It is really easy to cook far too much rice, pasta and potatoes and end up having to throw them away.
Left over potatoes can be used in bubble and squeak or pasta in pasta salads but it is easier to get the portions right to start with.
Use your kitchen equipment to help you. One adult portion of rice is about quarter of a mug full. 100g measured on your kitchen scales is an adult portion of pasta.
If you need more help the Love Food, Hate Waste website has a portion calculator to help.
7. Store Food Correctly
You need to be aware of how long food will last, otherwise, you may find that some of it has gone off and you have to throw it out. Storing food properly can help make it last longer.
When you unpack your shopping check the use by dates. Use the food with the shortest dates first.
Make sure your fridge is at the correct temperature. Having it between 0°C and 5°C can help preserve food for longer.
Certain food is less likely to go off if its put in certain parts of the fridge. Use the top/middle shelf for ready to eat food like dairy, cooked meat and packaged food. Store meat and fish at the bottom, in airtight containers. To keep vegetables fresh store them in the fridge. Use the salad drawers for vegetables and salad.
Potatoes and onions should not be kept in the fridge. Potatoes last longer if you store them in a brown paper bag or hessian sack in a cool dark cupboard. They should be kept away from onions and other fruit, as this makes them sprout faster. Make sure they are dry before storing them, wet potatoes will rot faster.
Don’t store bread in the fridge. It will go stale faster. Store it in a paper bag on a counter and eat within two or three days. Stale bread can be used to make puddings, breadcrumbs or garlic bread.
Check out Save the Food’s Storage Directory for tips on how to store any food.
8. Use Your Freezer
Using your freezer to freeze food will keep it in an edible state for longer. The types of food you can freeze are actually quite surprising. You can freeze everything from meat to milk to fruit.
If you have meat that is nearing its use-by date, pop it in the freezer. Made an extra portion of a dish? Freeze it for a later date.
Do you find fresh fruit and vegetables go off before you use them? Buy frozen instead. They are just as nutritious and keep longer.
Herbs wilting at the back of the fridge? Mince them and freeze them in ice cube trays to use later.
As long as you freeze and defrost the food safely, it can stay in the freezer as long as you need it to.
9. Use Tinned Food
Everyone has tins in their cupboard and you can easily make a meal out of them. Keep a selection in for those times when you can’t get out to the supermarket. You can always make a meal from tins of fish, tins of tomatoes, and tins of sweetcorn. Baked beans will make a quick lunch and tins of mixed beans can be added to stews and casseroles.
10. Use more Vegetables
Use more vegetables, beans and pulses to fill out stews, Bolognese and other pasta dishes instead of using meat.
You will get more portions out of each meal which will reduce costs. It also makes your meal more healthy, adding towards your goal of five fruit and vegetables a day.
11. Eat Food That is in Season
Fruit and vegetables are much cheaper when they’re in season, so take advantage of this. You will find they taste much better and will last longer. When you shop local produce, you are reducing your carbon footprint as food is not being trucked from different countries.
12. Start a Stock Pot
Stock is a great base for soup, stews or pasta sauce. Why not save your leftovers and make your own. If you are not going to use it straight away you can freeze it.
If you have made a roast chicken, boil up the bones for a stock. You will often find lots of chicken on the bones after boiling which you can also use.
Keep the bits of vegetables you would normally discard. Think carrot and potato peelings, leaves and stalks from broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower or celery leaves. Save these in an airtight container or freeze them until you have enough. Boil in water with bay leaves and peppercorns to make a vegetable stock.
Why not try this easy mushroom soup recipe?
13. Use leftovers
Don’t throw out leftovers, get creative and turn them into a new meal. Can you eat them for lunch the next day? Turn leftover roast vegetables into bubble and squeak, leftover rice into fried rice or make fajitas with leftover roast chicken.
14. Preserve it
Making jams, pickles and chutneys will help use up a glut of vegetables and fruit and extend their shelf life. While this might sound difficult, it is actually surprisingly easy.
15.Infuse Your Water
Add fruit peel or tops from strawberries into a jug of water to make a delicious water infusions. Put the jug in the fridge and leave the water to pick up the fruit flavour.
16. Create a compost heap
A compose heap is a great way to use up scraps, peelings, and unusable bits of food. You can even add coffee grounds and tea leaves. Composting them turns them into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that will benefit your garden. Having a compost heap can help attract wildlife to your garden, an additional benefit.
There you have it, sixteen ways you can make food go further. Do you have any other tips to add to the list? Let me know below.
Don’t forget if you want to learn more about meal planning you can sign up for my free six-day email course. This gives you six simple lessons that take around 20 minutes a day so you will be meal planning like a pro in no time.
With a bit of planning and preparation, we can reduce the amount of food we waste and save money. Meal planning is a great way to do this and I find that by having a list I tend to buy less junk food when I am shopping. I can also prepare meals in advance and freeze them for later. This saves me time when I have had a busy week at work. Do you meal plan? Do you find it works for you?
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