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How to reduce your food waste

Money-saving habits

Research has found that food waste is an issue which affects people from all walks of life. Perhaps you live alone and have to buy for one, or have to feed a whole family and never know who’s coming or going. You may not even know how much food is being wasted in your household, in which case, you might like to take our food waste challenge and find out what you could save.

Whatever your particular circumstances, there are some simple key habits which could help you reduce your food waste and save money:

Make a rough plan before you shop

Having some idea of what meals you want to prepare in the days ahead can help make sure you only buy the things you need. Write a shopping list and try not to get tempted by deals or food which might not get eaten.

Odd one out – make a meal to use odd ingredients

There are often a few bits and bobs in the fridge or in the cupboard, perhaps left over from a meal that was prepared or a lump of cheese that could easily be forgotten. Instead of re-stocking the fridge, these small bits and pieces can be transformed into a new meal using stock cupboard ingredients, saving you money. Visit our recipes page or the Love Food Hate Waste website to find out more.

Know what’s in your fridge

It can be easy to lose track of what’s in the fridge, especially if you share a fridge with others. Remind yourself once in a while and you might find you don’t need to go shopping. It can also be helpful to know what’s in your freezer. Some people organise food so that certain types of food go in certain drawers. You could also keep a list of the frozen food you have and cross things off when they’ve been eaten.

Know the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’

It is important to follow ‘use by’ dates. The ‘use by’ date is found on perishable foods that could make us ill if we eat them after this date. ‘Best before’ dates refer to quality, rather than food safety and eating food after this date is unlikely to be harmful. Eggs are the only exception, which have to be consumed before their ‘best before’ date.  Though it can be hard to schedule our lives around these dates, many perishable foods can be frozen. You don’t need to freeze foods on the day of purchase; they can go into the freezer any point up to their expiry date.

Perfect portions – only cook what you need

When preparing a meal, how often do you find you’ve got too much or not enough? Avoid frustration and save money by measuring before you cook – it’s easier than you think! For instance, a mug of rice will feed three people; 100g of red meat is about right for one person or 140g of lean meat. Visit Love Food Hate Waste portion guide for more information.

Super storage – know how to keep you food fresher for longer

The way we store food can make a big difference to how long it stays fresh. For instance, fruit and vegetables will last longer if kept in the fridge, which should be kept between 0oC – 5oC. However, bread will actually keep better in a bread bin, rather than in the fridge because the fridge hardens bread. It is also advisable to keep food in its original packaging because the packaging is usually designed to help food stay fresh - a plastic wrapped cucumber will last up to three days longer if kept in its packaging!