Whether you’re a ‘three-sensible-meals-a-day’ kind of person or you love snacking and bringing home leftovers, we all love our food. But, as an old saying goes, sometimes our eyes are hungrier than our stomachs and people find themselves having to throw food out.
This isn’t just a waste of our own money. Food waste is a massive contributor to issues affecting the environment. Friends of the Earth report that if it were a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
This is because, when we waste food, we waste everything that has gone into making it - fresh water, land and labour. It also skewers the supply – if people think there’s a constantly high demand, more will be supplied. But when all of that extra supply is just ending up in the bin, wasteful doesn’t begin to cover it.
So, how can you reduce food waste?
Tips to reduce food waste – from shopping lists to fridge maintenance
When it comes to reducing food waste, the two methods that you need to think about are thinking about what you’re buying (including how much and when) and knowing how to properly store food.
Food waste tips: shopping and planning ahead
To start with, the easiest way to reduce food waste is to not buy more than you need.
Keep track of what you’ve bought and used. This also includes checking the use-by dates of fresh food when you buy it. These are the dates to take notice of, rather than the best-before dates. Only buy what you can use before it expires.
If you have things going off in the next few days, take the time to research what you can make with them. It might be as simple as throwing everything together into a slow-cooker or making a hearty soup you can batch up and spread out over a few days.
Reducing food waste through correct storage
The next step in reducing food waste requires more action on your part, but it’s worth the extra effort.
Check your appliances
Though you can easily stop yourself from going into your local supermarket and buying more than you need, if you’re constantly finding your food is going off quickly, you might need to look at how your fridge and freezer are operating.
The day-to-day steps you can do include:
- Check the temperature of your fridge – our fridges should be below 5 degrees
- Don’t overfill your fridge shelves – overstocked fridges won't cool food as desired
- Only open the door when you’re getting food out – opening a fridge or freezer door will affect the temperature. If you forget to shut it properly or open it throughout the day randomly, you could be causing the temperatures to climb.
- Follow our expert steps to make your fridge last longer
However, if you still suspect something isn’t quite right, book in an expert to carry out any maintenance or repairs.
Learn how to store food to last longer
If your appliances are working to the best of their ability, it’s then up to you to know how to store foods, and for how long.
For example, many of us know we can freeze things like chicken breasts or meat. But what about eggs? Butter? We’ve got the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding foods you can freeze.
Can you freeze cheese? Yes! In blocks or grated, cheese can be frozen.
Can you freeze yoghurt? You can, but only for between one and two months.
Can you freeze milk? Yes, but it depends on what you plan to use it for afterwards. The freezing and thawing process can cause the milk to separate and turn grainy, making it fine to cook with but maybe less so for your cups of tea.
Can you freeze mushrooms? you can, but they will lose a lot of their nutritional value over time. They are best eaten fresh.
Can you freeze eggs? Never freeze eggs in the shell. You can freeze egg whites that have been cracked out of the shell into a tray, or you can whisk the whites and the yolk together and then freeze them. Frozen eggs this way can last up to one year.
Can you freeze butter? Yes, you can freeze butter. You can freeze it in blocks, sticks or slice it into pats. Keep the butter frozen until you're ready to use it, then let it thaw in the fridge.
Can you freeze bread? Indeed you can. Wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap it again in foil or freezer paper. Label with the date and freeze for up to six months. It’s best to freeze your bread in slices so you won't have to thaw and refreeze the entire loaf every time you want a sandwich or some toast.