According to LoveFoodHateWaste.com, British households throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food every year. Wasting food costs the average family with children £680 a year, or £50 a month.
It’s clear that for the sake of our wallets and the environment, we need to make the most of every item of food we buy.
Here are eight quick steps to cut the amount of food wasted in your household.
1. Plan ahead
Try to write a menu plan for the coming week. Once you know what you’ll be cooking, you’ll be less likely to buy items you don’t need.
2. Buy versatile foodstuffs
If you’re not sure what you’re going to cook from one week to the next, buy store cupboard staples that can be used in dozens of different ways.
For example, rolled oats keep well, are healthy and filling, and can be used to make everything from porridge and muesli to crumbles and flapjacks.
3. Swap with your neighbours
If your garden is overflowing with grow-your-own produce, don’t let it go to waste.
Instead, give some to neighbours in exchange for food items you do need.
4. Leftover lunches
Box up the leftovers from supper and re-heat them in the office the next day. A tasty hot meal, with no preparation or spending required!
5. Get every last bit
Buy a rubber spatula. This small investment will mean you can get every last bit from peanut butter and sauce jars for years to come.
6. Make what you have last longer
There are lots of things you can do to make the food you buy last longer.
For example, keep milk on the shelf in the fridge, rather than in the door: This will avoid temperature fluctuations as the door is constantly opened and closed.
And if you have too many fresh vegetables, peel, chop and bag them. This will make them easier to freeze, so you can save them until you next need them.
7. Understand what ‘best before’ means
Knowing the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ could prevent you throwing food away unnecessarily.
For safety reasons, food that’s past its ‘Use By’ date shouldn’t be eaten. However, after a ‘Best Before’ date, food may begin to lose its flavour and texture – but it’s generally still safe to eat.
8. Use a portion planner
Tonnes of food are thrown away every month because we misjudge the amount we’re cooking. We stick a bit more pasta or rice in (‘just to be on the safe side’) and more often than not, it doesn’t all get eaten.
You can avoid this sort of waste by using a portion planner. It shows you the right amount to cook for both adults and children, and suggests good ways of measuring different ingredients.
If you’re in need of cooking inspiration, have a browse through these leftover rescue recipes.