As with most people money isn’t exactly flowing so watching pennies is a must. One place I know I waste the most money in the kitchen. According to recent reports,
the average family throws out £50 worth of food a month. I don;t know about you but I can’t afford to chuck £50 a away each month. I would rather it was in my purse than in the bin. Most of what we throw away is fruit and veg but 32% of bread that has been bought ends up in the bin too.
Before we all start beating ourselves at all this wasted food strict sell by dates and bulk offers are partly to blame.
So what’s the deal on the dates on our food? According to the lovely people at the Food Standards Agency ‘use by’ dates are on foods that go off quickly. The foods that would be dangerous to eat after a certain date even though they may look and smell ok. For the ‘use by’ date to be affective the food needs to have been stored properly in the first place. So if you leave meat out on a kitchen side the use by date is completely useless.
The ‘best before’ date is more about quality of the the food then the safety. The best before date tells us the date the foods may start to loose its texture or flavour but not dangerous to eat.
So how how can we be less wasteful with our food and more importantly not throw away £50 a month? A spoonful of common sense and a bit of the following will start us off.
Foods to avoid if past their USE BY date.
- Dairy based desserts
- Soft cheese
- Cooked meats
- Shellfish and seafood
- Ready meals and ready prepared salads
Before you shop….
Make a plan before you go shopping of what your going to eat each day. Then make a list of just the stuff you need. Now stick to the list. This way you won’t find yourself standing in the aisle wondering if you need cheese and buying more just in case when there is actually enough cheese in your fridge to last several weeks.
If you live your life by your phone get one of the shopping list apps and as you run out of things add them to your shopping list. A notepad on the fridge is also good if you can train the rest of the family to add to the list as they use up items too.
Have a good root around in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Do you actually know what’s lurking at the back of the cupboards? Don’t buy out of habit then end up throwing away the duplicate.
In the supermarket get stretching….right to the back so that you get the item with the longest ‘use by’ date so you benefit from the longest shelf life.
Don’t be tempted by offers unless you can adjust your meal planner.
That hugemunguess bags of apples may be the cheapest but its only a bargain if you actually much your way through all those apples and not throw them away.
Display until and Sell by dates don’t appear on all foods. They are there for shop managers and not for judging use by or best before dates. They are different.
Minimising Food Waste ……
Check your fridge temperature. Bad storage is one of the main reasons food gets wasted. Your fridge needs to below 5c so that the food is fresher for longer.
I use to think it was best to keep bread in the fridge but apparently it makes it go stale quicker. Instead keep it in a bread bin. You can, freeze it if you got too much bread.
Don’t take risks with eggs that smell sulphurous when cracked open. The smell is telling you that they are unsafe to use.
When you do a food shop and putting your food away in teh cupboards etc, think like a shop and bring all your older stuff to the front and put the newer stuff behind. No its not a bit OCD-ish its making sure you use older food before the newer dated food.
Made too much chilli? Leftovers should be cooled ( but within 90 minutes) then stored in an airtight container for two days in the fridge or pop it in the freezer.
Once leftovers have made it to the freezer it is best to defrost and use them within three months. Eat within 24 hours of defrosting. And make sure when heating that the food is steaming hot all the way through.