It is often difficult to know how much food to cook, especially if you are providing for a houseful of hungry teenagers or fussy eaters. Weighing or using portion guides (such as spaghetti measurers) can be a useful way of more accurately estimating how much you will need. Any leftovers can be used for lunches, tomorrow’s dinner or labelled, frozen and saved for a later date.
This great tool allows you to calculate how much food you need to cook according to how many hungry mouths you need to feed.
Fridge or cupboard? That is the question (Storage)
Storing food correctly can greatly increase the life of foods such as fruits, vegetables and bakery items. For example storing apples in the fridge will keep them crisp for longer. Lettuces and broccoli can be refreshed when looking wilted by trimming the bottoms and sitting them in a little water. Keeping bread in a cool dark place will keep it fresher for longer, or even better, slicing and freezing loaves means you can toast slices as needed.
Follow these simple guidelines to keep your food fresher for longer.
Using your noggin (Date labels)
Think back to before date labels were commonplace. People relied on their senses to judge whether food was safe to eat, and they survived without harm! Today we have the benefit of use by and best before dates to help us decide, but knowing what these labels really mean is a great step forward in reducing food waste.
Best before dates refer to the quality of food rather than safety. Foods that are past their best before date are perfectly safe to eat but their quality may begin to deteriorate slightly. Foods should not be eaten past their use by dates as these are put in place to ensure that the food we eat is safe. Sell by dates are solely for the supermarket to ensure stock is rotated correctly and can be ignored.
Date labels don’t need to be confusing with these straightforward explanations.
Don’t neglect your freezer (freezing food)
It can be very easy to buy or cook too much food, but using the freezer can vastly reduce the amount that is wasted. Produce can be frozen until the day of its use by date and once defrosted should be used within 24 hours. It can be helpful to portion items such as chicken breasts or salmon fillets before freezing to enable only as many portions as needed to be defrosted when required.
Portioning and labelling leftovers such as lasagne or chilli means that you have homemade ready meals for when you’re short on time. Leftover herbs can be washed, chopped and then frozen in ice cube trays ready to add straight into curries or stir fries.
These four golden rules will help you make the most of your freezer.
Into the unknown… (Using leftovers)
We all have great intentions when it comes to using leftovers, but it is all too often that the container of excess pasta gets forgotten about at the back of the fridge and then ends up in the bin when it’s unearthed weeks later. Portioning and packing up leftovers for packed lunches straight away and keeping them where they can be seen in the fridge means we’re more likely to use them. Not quite enough left for lunch? Try bulking out dishes with extra vegetables, tinned fish or pulses.
Slightly wrinkly vegetables are fantastic for soups or roasting, and at this stage root vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips become deliciously sweet. Treat yourself to a crumble or cake with overripe fruit or cook to a puree as part of breakfast or a dessert.
The love food, hate waste website has a huge wealth of recipes designed to help you use up those odds and ends that are at risk of being binned.
It really does pay to plan! (shopping lists)
We’ve all habitually plonked a bag of apples or salad in our basket, only to get home to find some still lurking at the bottom of the fruit bowl or fridge. Checking what we’ve already got before going shopping, and making a list of what we need means we’re less likely to buy duplicates. It also means we will be less likely to be tempted by those seemingly lucrative supermarket deals. If you’re not a fan of list writing, why not take a quick picture of your cupboards and fridge before you go shopping, or do it online so you can check what you’ve got whilst you shop.
These 8 simple steps can help you save time, money and prevent delicious food from being thrown away.
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