10 ways to reduce food waste and save money

When you are trying to save money and reduce spending, cooking too much food which doesn’t get eaten or throwing out items past their use by date is frustrating to say the least.

But by putting some systems in place in the kitchen and using a bit of common sense you can drastically cut waste and also – according to personal finance expert Andrea Knowles – save up to £ 720 a year on your food shop.

Andrea, who works for vouchers.co.uk, has come up with 10 ways you can slash your food waste and has shared them below:

  1. Use the FIFO method when organizing your fridge

FIFO stands for first in, first out. Simply place just-bought foods at the back of the cupboard or fridge to encourage people to use the food in the front row first. This will ensure freshness and reduce waste.

Keep one shelf or section of your fridge strictly for foods that are close to their eat-by dates. You could even pile the items so those closest to the eat-by date are stacked on the top, making them easier to grab.

  1. Use a 10p coin to measure the right amount of spaghetti

We all know how easy it is to cook too much pasta or rice, however, there really is a simple knack to getting the right portion size.

For rice, measure a quarter of a mug of uncooked rice per person. For pasta, place the pasta into the bowl that you will be eating from before cooking it. This should give you an indication of whether it’s too little or too much.

As for spaghetti, simply take a bundle of dry spaghetti about the same diameter as a 10p coin. This is enough for two people.

  1. Never store your eggs in the fridge door as they’ll rot quicker

Whilst most fridges have a special egg rack in the door for you to store your eggs, it seems common sense to store your eggs here.

However, this part of the fridge gets the warmest due to its constant temperature change every time the door is opened, so the eggs are more likely to rot. Instead store them on a shelf within the fridge, or even within the freezer. If you crack the eggs into a container, you can defrost and eat them for up to 12 months.

  1. Know which vegetables can be eaten beyond the date on their packaging

Many people are surprised to find that the dates you see on fruit and vegetable packaging are actually ‘best before dates’, and are, therefore, just a recommendation to eat before the date for optimum freshness.

Most fruit and vegetables can be eaten beyond the date as long as they are not moldy. Also, foods with high water content like tomatoes, strawberries and cucumber, are the most likely to go mushy once they’re thawed so try and eat them within the best-by date.

  1. Buy more frozen vegetables as they’re cheaper, last longer and are healthier

Alternatively, there are some vegetables which you should definitely buy frozen instead – such as peas, sweetcorn and broccoli. Plus, not only do frozen vegetables tend to be cheaper but many studies show that they preserve nutrients for longer than fresh foods, due to being frozen.

  1. Make your sandwiches with bread from the freezer

To stop your bread going stale, put it in the freezer on the day that you buy it. Then you just need to take out a couple of slices at a time, depending on what you need the bread for.

Also, don’t be alarmed if your bread is still frozen when making a sandwich on a morning for a packed lunch – the bread will have defrosted by the time lunch rolls around, with no excess water involved.

  1. Add your herbs to ice cubes to make them last longer

Did you know that you can make fresh herbs last longer by chopping them up and portioning them into an ice cube tray? Simply top up with enough water that they’re completely submerged, and place them in the freezer.

Once frozen, you can transfer to a sandwich bag so that you can get your ice tray back. Then next time, you need to use herbs in your cooking (or even your gin), you’ll have a convenient portion to hand.

  1. Regularly check the temperature of your fridge so your food doesn’t go off

Your fridge should be between 0-5 degrees. Being warmer than this can lead to a lot of your food going off, such as uncooked meat and milk.

  1. Keep a list of what foods you regularly waste and stop buying them

Keeping a note of which foods that go bad before you’ve eaten them, can help you in the long run as it shows you which foods you should be cutting back on.

For example, if you regularly find yourself throwing out fresh berries you bought for your breakfast porridge, the solution might be to buy only one type of berries.

Also, whilst buying larger bags of produce rather than one or two pieces may seem cheaper, you’re not saving any money if it always ends up in the bin.

  1. Make a shopping list to reduce your total food spend by a third

According to the Money Advice Service, people who make a list are three times less likely to overspend than those who don’t.

So, before shopping, get your pen out and paper out (or use your phone) and jot down everything you need for the week ahead. Also, make sure to check your cupboards to see which ingredients you already own so you don’t double up on items.

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