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Making the most of your food (3 April 2020)

These are challenging times we’re currently living through, especially when it comes to household food management. We don’t know if we’re buying too much or not enough. Can we use leftovers? What is the best way to stock a fridge?

However, thinking positively we can use this as an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with some skills we may have lost in the hustle and bustle of modern life and do more with the food we have.

Now more than ever we all need to make sure we aren’t wasting any food – whether that’s buying or cooking too much, buying the wrong thing, or storing food incorrectly.

So, what can you do to reduce the amount of food you throw away and use more of what you’ve got? Whether you’re going to a supermarket or you’re shopping online follow the tips below to save food and almost certainly save money…

• Write a shopping list! The most obvious but best one of all. Check what is in the cupboard, fridge and freezer before shopping and write out what you need.

• Plan your meals in advance. Breakfast, dinner, tea – know what you need before you buy. You could even write it out and stick in on the fridge door!

• Check the dates on food regularly and use foods with the shortest date first

• Smaller packs of bread (which still have the same size slices) are great if you’re not going to eat a big loaf before it goes off. If you do buy a big loaf why not freeze half and toast straight from frozen?

• Freeze milk – you need never pour milk down the sink again. When it’s coming up to its use-by date, and definitely still smells fresh, simply put it in the freezer. Defrost fully in the fridge and use within 5–7 days. You could even freeze it in an ice cube tray.

• Simple but a classic – measure portion sizes to help avoid cooking or serving too much food.

• Be creative with using up leftovers – most will keep for two days in the fridge if they are well wrapped (apart from rice).

• Speaking of leftover rice – rinse it with cold water and tip it into a large shallow container. Cool it as quickly as possible (ideally within an hour) and it will keep in the fridge for up to a day. Make sure your rice is piping hot when you reheat it – and then enjoy.

• Cook once, eat twice. There might be time when you’ve cooked too much food. A great way to keep it out of the bin is to create single portions in tupperware and freeze them for later. You, your partner and your family will always have a healthy meal to reheat when cooking seems like a chore.

• Keep your foods in the right parts of the fridge – this prevents cross-contamination (and keeps them good for longer). In a nutshell, keep ready-to-eat food on the top shelves and fruit and veg in the bottom drawers. Wrap or cover open items and put raw meat, poultry and fish in sealed containers to avoid keep raw away from cooked foods.

• To extend the life of food beyond its date, freeze it before the date and defrost and use within 24 hours.

• When you get your food home, keep it in its original packaging and follow on pack instructions to keep food at its best. If you buy your fruit and veg loose they can also last longer if stored properly in a bag that is lightly tied in the fridge.

• Re-sealable packs for cheese prevent it drying out, particularly important in the fridge. If your cheese of choice doesn’t have a re-sealable pack, make sure you wrap it well in cling film, foil or in a plastic tub

We hope our baker’s dozen of tips helps you manage your household food better. For more information and tips, advice and recipes for leftovers and to help waste less food visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.

Other handy websites:

10 tips to help make meal prep easy – www.hubbub.org.uk/10-easy-meal-prep-tips

10 ways to cut your food waste – www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/food-banks/10-ways-to-cut-your-food-waste

Common items you can and can’t freeze – https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/food-banks/10-ways-to-cut-your-food-waste