Storing food in the right way helps keep it fresh and tasty for longer and means less of the food we buy gets wasted.
It sounds obvious but it’s amazing just how much food gets thrown away every year just because it goes off before we get round to using it. In fact ‘letting food go off’ is responsible for around half of the 4.4 million tonnes of food and drink we throw away every year.
Given the average family could save £50 a month by not wasting food and drink, that’s got to be good for our pockets!
Not only that but it also helps the environment too; producing, storing and transporting food to us uses up a lot of energy and resources, and sending food to landfill generates methane which is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases. In fact this food waste is responsible for the equivalent of 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – or the same environmental impact as taking one in five cars off our roads.
There are simple steps we can take to make sure we give our food the best possible chance to be eaten, simply by getting to know our fridges better:
1. Regulate your fridge temperature
Remember to keep your fridge temperature below five degrees. Research shows that up to 30% of our fridges are too warm, meaning food won’t last as long as it could. Milk goes off much quicker if your fridge is just a few degrees too warm.
2. Keep bread out of the fridge!
Did you know that the equivalent of around two million loaves of bread are thrown away every single day in UK homes? To keep bread fresher for longer it’s best not to put it in the fridge as it goes stale much quicker. Bread keeps best in a cool dark place such as the bread bin or a store cupboard. But bread does freeze well for use another time – you can even toast it straight from the freezer. You can also make stale crusts into breadcrumbs and freeze them, then use them straight from the freezer for a savoury crumble topping.
3. Know your fridge-friendly fruits
17 billion ‘5 a day’ portions are thrown away each year. The fridge is the ideal place to store most of your fruit and veg:
- Fruit can last up to two weeks longer in the fridge than in the fruit bowl
- If you’re only using part of a fresh pepper, leave the stem, seeds and membrane intact on the bit leftover. The pepper will then keep in the fridge, if you wrap it well, much longer than if you’d removed them
But there are some fruit and veg that you shouldn’t keep in the fridge. Bananas and pineapples must be kept cool but don’t refrigerate them. Potatoes and onions also mustn’t go in the fridge – keep them in a cool, dark place like a garage or cupboard.
4. Wrap and cool
Once opened, food like cheese and ham keep better (i.e. they don’t dry out) if they’re well wrapped by re-closing the pack, wrapping in cling film or foil, or putting in an air tight container.
5. From fridge to freezer
If you suddenly realise you aren’t going to be able to eat something in the fridge, remember you can freeze food before the ‘use by’ date. Defrost when you need it and use within 24 hours.
For more ideas and ways to store food to keep it at its best for longer, take a look at these great fridge tips.
Emma Marsh heads up Love Food Hate Waste, which aims to raise awareness of the issue of food waste and offer simple everyday tips and support to help consumers save money and waste less. Emma is also a keen grower of fruit and veg in her garden and allotment at home.