8 ways to avoid household food waste

Emma Brown | 24 Apr, 2019

1 Only buy what you need

The easiest way to avoid throwing foods away is to not have them in the house to begin with. Go to the supermarket with a list of what you need for the meals you plan to make – and only buy what you need. For fresh fruit and veg, buy what's necessary for the first few days, then pop in for a quick fresh food top up mid-week.

2 Freeze leftovers

If you make a larger than necessary portion, freeze your leftovers for another meal. Lasagne, cottage pie, bolognese sauce, curry, stews all freeze well. Or box up leftovers for tomorrows lunch!

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3 Freeze foods close to use by date

If you can see your meat or fish has reached it's 'use by' date and you don't intend to eat it that day, freeze it to extend its life. It's still fine to freeze foods on their 'use by' date.

4 Don't remove all skins

Avoid throwing away extra peels and introduce more fibre from the skins of fruits and vegetables. Carrot peel is fine to eat for example, also keep potato or parsnip skins on when cooking and mash up for extra texture. Kiwi fruit can also be eaten whole – just carefully rub the fruit under cold water, to clean it and remove some fuzz, then you're good to go.

5 Freeze fruit for smoothies

If you notice your fruit is approaching the end of it's best edible days, chop it up and pop it in freezer bags to use in a smoothie. There's no need to simply throw it out.

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6 Repurpose your waste – use peels/scrap for compost

If you do have leftover fruit/veg peel or cores, consider using them for compost rather than throwing away to join a landfill.

7 Know your labels

The term you should pay most attention to is 'use by' – this indicates food safety, so eating foods after the date shown 'could' risk your health. But, when it comes to 'best before' labels, this is merely an indication of quality. If a food is passed it's 'best before' it doesn't mean it's unsafe to eat. Use your common sense to decide if you should still consume the rest of last years peanut butter tub for example!

8 Trust your common sense

Many foods have a 'best before' date as manufacturers are required to indicate durability – but it doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't eat the foods after this date. Trust your own common sense. Or do little tests for example, with eggs, pop them in a bowl of cold water – if they float, stay away – but if they sink, you're good to go.

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Top storage tips!

  1. Lettuce – separate the leaves, wash thoroughly and remove any mushy leaves. Dry the leaves as well as you can, wrap them in paper towels and store in an airtight container in the bottom of the fridge. Check the paper towels occasionally and replace when they feel wet.
  2. Potatoes – store at room temperature and in a dark place, they should not be stored in the fridge.
  3. Eggs – a consistent temperature is most important for eggs, so store at the back of the fridge, not in the door where the temperature fluctuates.
  4. Apples – these should be stored in a cold dark place, so rather than the fruit bowl, pop them in the fridge.
  5. Fruit bowl – While a full and vibrant fruit bowl is attractive, certain foods are best kept out of it. Namely apples and berries, as these can spoil quickly when sat close to bananas, tomatoes and avocados which produce certain gases that speed up ripening.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.