Waste Free - Make the Most of Your Food
No one wants to waste food in these challenging times. We've put together a few hints and tips on how to make the most out of your weekly shop, use up leftovers and store things in the best way.
Now more than ever we all need to make sure we aren't wasting any food - whether that's buying or cooking too much, buying the wrong thing, or storing food incorrectly.
So, what can you do to reduce the amount of food you throw away and use more of what you've got? Whether you're going to a supermarket or you're shopping online, follow the tips below to save food and almost certainly save money...
- Write a shopping list! The most obvious but best one of all. Check what is in the cupboard, fridge and freezer before shopping and write out what you actually need.
- Plan your meals in advance. Breakfast, lunch and dinner - know what you need before you buy. You could even write out a meal plan for the week and stick it on the fridge door.
- Don't shop when you're hungry! We've all been there, shopping on an empty stomach encourages us to buy too much food which we don't need and will end up in the brown bin.
- Check the dates on food regularly and use foods with the shortest date first.
- Know the difference between 'Best Before' and 'Use By'? The best before date is about food quality, the food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. A use by date on food is about safety, after the use by date don't eat it, cook it or freeze it. (Source: Food Standards Agency).
- Keep your foods in the right parts of the fridge - this prevents cross-contamination (and keeps them good for longer). Ready-to-eat food should be on the top shelf, dairy in the middle, raw meat and fish on the bottom shelf and fruit and veg in the bottom drawers.
- When you get your food home, keep it in its original packaging and follow on pack instructions to keep food at its best. If you buy your fruit and veg loose they can also last longer if stored properly in a bag that is lightly tied in the fridge.
- Re-sealable packs for cheese prevent it drying out, particularly important in the fridge. If your cheese of choice doesn't have a re-sealable pack, make sure you wrap it up or put it in a plastic tub. Check out our Recycling Activities to see how to make Beeswax Wraps to wrap up your food.
- To find out how best to store your food items, have a look at Love Food Hate Waste's A-Z Food Storage Guide.
- Be creative with using up leftovers - most will keep for two days in the fridge if they are well wrapped (apart from rice).
- Rice needs to be rinsed with cold water and tipped it into a large shallow container to cool it as quickly as possible (ideally within an hour). It only keeps in the fridge for 24hours and make sure it's piping hot when you serve it.
- Cook once, eat twice. There might be times when you've cooked too much food. A great way to keep it out of the bin is to create single portions in Tupperware and freeze them for later. You, your partner and your family will always have a healthy meal to reheat when cooking seems like a chore.
- To extend the life of food beyond its date, freeze it before the date and defrost and use within 24 hours.
- Freeze bread if your not going to finish the loaf before it goes off. You can use it for toast straight from the freezer.
- You can freeze milk! When it's coming up to its use-by date, and definitely still smells fresh, simply put it in the freezer. Defrost fully in the fridge and give it a bit of a shake if it looks like its separated. you can only freeze and defrost once though, so you could use an ice cube tray to make sure you only defrost the amount you need.
- Be a Freezer Hero and find out what else you can freeze.
The Love Food Hate Waste team have put together some excellent Recipes to help make the most of your food and use up those leftovers.
Hubbub - 10 tips to help make meal prep easy
BBC Good Food has great tips on common items you can and can't freeze.
The Food Standards Agency provides lots of information to ensure food is safe to eat.