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10 savvy ways to waste less food
With households throwing away around seven million tons of food and drink each year, there’s no denying that the UK is quite a wasteful nation. Food waste is not only bad for the environment - it can also cost you a lot more money than you actually need to be spending on what you eat. Whether it’s buying food that you don’t really need, buying food and letting it go bad or paying more than you need to for certain items, there are some common ways that many of us end up wasting money on the food that we buy. So, what can you do to spend less, waste less, and slash the monthly cost of food for your household overall?
When it comes to certain foods, storing them correctly can help them stay fresher for longer as you may well know. But one food item that people often forget to store well is potatoes. Good storage for your potatoes can more than double their lifespan and make sure that you get use out of all of them without any going to waste. Ideally, you should avoid storing potatoes in the fridge; choose a cool and dark place like a cool pantry or food cupboard. Placing your potatoes in a hessian sack or paper bag allows the moisture to escape, which along with being in the darkness will prevent them from rotting or sprouting.
While bags of salad might be a convenient option when you want to cut down your food preparation time, the sad truth is that once they are opened, they really don’t last very long. Unless you are purchasing salads that are eaten all at once, chances are you’re only going to have to throw out the rest of your salad bag not long after you have made a meal using it. Instead, whole heads of lettuce will last much longer.
If you purchase bread but rarely manage to get through the entire loaf before it starts going mouldy, get more from the loaf by putting half of it in the freezer in small portions as soon as you buy it. This will keep it fresh and you can defrost bread very quickly or even toast it directly from frozen if you have a defrost function on your toaster. If your bread has gone stale but it’s not mouldy, don’t throw it away just yet as you can use it for bread and butter pudding, a Panzanella salad or breadcrumbs for coating meat and fish.
Pre-sliced ham, chicken and beef for sandwiches might be a very convenient option but chances are that doing things this way means you’re going to be spending more than you could be. Instead, getting a whole joint of gammon, a rump of beef of a whole chicken is much cheaper. Cook it at home then slice it into individual portions. These will usually keep in the fridge for a couple of days for sandwiches or you can freeze them to last even longer.
Some food items like biscuits, chocolate, crisps, gravy granules, table sauces, dried noodles, baked beans, packet soups and more will usually be fine to eat long after their sell-by date. In fact, the sell-by date is more to inform supermarkets of when they need to take foods off the shelves - usually by placing them in the reduced section - than it is about when they should be consumed by. As long as you don’t go years over the sell-by date, you will usually be perfectly fine to eat foods that have gone past it, especially if the food is long-life.
You can find some great bargains here at this pound shop online, Low Price Foods. Low Price Foods sells a wide range of food items that are short-dated or just past their sell-by date for as little as a pound. Browse this online pound store to find staples that you need in your cupboards at a fraction of the price.
Fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive to buy from supermarkets, and your local market might be a better option. In fact, fruit and vegetables from the local market can often be half the price of what you would expect to pay in the big supermarkets, and it’s usually fresher too. Visit the market at the end of the day to take advantage of the best bargains, when stallholders are eager to reduce their stock.
If you like to buy fresh vegetables but always end up letting a lot of them go to waste because you can’t eat them as fast as they are losing their freshness, pre-preparing them and freezing them yourself can be a great idea. This is a much cheaper option compared to buying bags of ready-prepared frozen vegetables, too. Chop staples like carrots, onions, broccoli, parsnips, sweet potatoes, green beans and pepper and pop them in your freezer in a zip-lock bag where they will stay fresh until you need to use them. Usually, you can cook them straight from frozen, making this an ideal way to reduce the number of fresh vegetables you waste and make meal prep easier. You can also do the same thing with fruit.
There are several things that you can do to make dairy items last longer for you, including purchasing long-life milk in bulk, as these tend to be in smaller cartons and less likely to go to waste. If you prefer fresh milk, freeze it in manageable one-pint portions and defrost it when needed. Leftover cheese can also be grated and frozen to keep it fresh, and you can use this directly from frozen in recipes like lasagne or pasta bakes.
Getting organised in your kitchen will make it easier for you to know what you’ve got in and prevents you from accidentally doubling up on certain items when you can’t see that you’ve already got one of the back of your food cupboard. When stocking your cupboards, it’s a good idea to arrange them similarly to how they are arranged at the supermarket with the items that are set to go out of date first at the front, so that you can eat those first.
Ready meals can be convenient sometimes, but they tend to be expensive and not very nutritious either. If you don’t have a lot of time to cook during the week, a good idea is to make your own ready meals by batch cooking at the weekend when you have some spare time. Chilli, stew, or curry can easily be batched cooked at the weekend and frozen into individual portions that you simply need to warm up when you want a quick meal. If you’re stuck for time on the weekend too, a slow cooker is a great investment as all you need to do is throw the ingredients in and let it cook all day on low heat.
If you’ve noticed that you are wasting more food than you are happy with, try these tips to significantly reduce your food waste and make your groceries last longer.