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Top tips to reduce food waste

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Food waste is a massive issue and can be very costly in addition to potential environmental effects. Here are some top tips for reducing food waste, getting the most from your food, and even saving some pennies in the process.

food waste

Tip no 1:

Fruit and vegetables provide vital nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and using frozen, tinned, or dried options can be a great way to shop more economically. This means the fruit or veg will have a longer shelf life. Frozen fruit and veg is often ready chopped for you so can also be a time saver and most can be used from frozen so you can take what you need and there’s no mess, no waste! Many shops also sell frozen herbs and spices now too which is another easy way to save wasting fresh ingredients, or if you buy fresh herbs or spices why not chop up and freeze yourself. Using an ice cube tray can be a useful way to separate the food into individual portions ready for use when you next need them.

grocery shopping

Tip no 2:

If you live alone or don’t use a lot of bread it can be a good idea to freeze it and it will last you a lot longer. You can use individual slices and toast bread from frozen. Most toasters also have a defrost setting you can use for the bread.

Top tip no 3:

Keep items in your cupboards like pasta, rice, beans lentils, and chickpeas – either dried or tinned so you can add to meals for a nutritious addition. These ingredients will keep for a long time and can help you prepare an easy meal if you’re short on time, or haven’t been to the shops! Chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, and curry paste are useful for adding flavour to meals (along with some of your frozen herbs!) This way you can use up fresh ingredients that may go to waste by pairing with items you already have in your cupboards.

Top tip no 4:

Bulk buying is not suitable for everyone but can be a good way to save money and if you’ve got the storage space you can freeze portions ready for another day. Keep items labeled in your freezer so you’ll know exactly what you have. Adding in some of your store cupboard essentials mentioned above means you can make tasty meals and make ingredients like meat go further by adding lentils to bolognese for example. You can bulk out meals and use less meat which is planet-friendly too. Bulk buys of items like pasta rice or oats will have a long shelf life and do not spoil when past their best before date these can be more cost-effective, which means you buy them less often and uses less packaging too.

Top tip no 5:

Wrap food up well and store it correctly so it will last longer. If you’re looking to cut down on plastic use then reusable tubs or beeswax wraps are a great alternative to food bags or cling film. Make sure opened bags are sealed as best you can and then store opened items in the fridge if needed. The product label will guide you with storage instructions such as keeping refrigerated after opening.

Top tip no 6:

Have a ‘picky tea’ for dinner if you have odds and ends of food needing used up. This works well for the fridge, freezer, and fresh to use up what you have before going shopping to save wasting foods. Cook up or serve what you have and let everyone help themselves! This is a great idea if you have foods that don’t go together to make a meal. It saves the food going to waste and gives you space for fresh shopping, plus it provides another meal before you have to go shopping again making your food last longer.

kitchen cupboards

Top tip no 7:

Always look at what you have at home before shopping, this can prevent buying things you already have and can save future waste. Better still if you shop with a list and plan your shopping for meals you can plan to use up things in the home such as adding leftover veg to a casserole, curry or soup.

Top tip no 8:

Eat the skin! Save time and food by not peeling items such as potatoes, carrots & parsnips and keep the skin on. Be sure to wash veg before use to remove any traces of dirt, wax, or stones first but the skin is perfectly safe to eat. As an added benefit there are nutrients present in the skin too, like vitamin C in potato skins and the skin is a source of fibre which is important for digestion. Leaves from vegetables such as cauliflower are also safe to eat and can be added into dishes to make use of the whole thing. For any peelings, you do have like onion or leek roots, stalks or potatoes you have peeled keep them, and make vegetable stock from them. Keep them in an airtight tub in the freezer until you have a full tub, boil the scraps for about half an hour then drain keeping the stock to use.

Top tip no 9:

Why not try buying wonky veg at the supermarket which is often cheaper too and you’ll make use of fruit and vegetables that would often go to waste. Many supermarkets have started selling these items that may not look as pretty or pristine as other fruit or veg, but are just as good. Sadly standards dictate that fruit and vegetables that are misshapen, or not aesthetically pleasing don’t make the cut and get wasted as shops believe people would not buy them. Let’s show them some love and save these items from getting wasted.

Chloé is a registered dietitian and is passionate about promoting a whole-person approach to health and helping clients to feel empowered. Her specialties are weight management, IBS, plant-based diets, and cancer rehabilitation. Book Chloe's expertise and receive trusted expert advice on cancer prevention or recovery.

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