The last thing we want to do right now – or any time for that matter – is waste food. We may be buying more fresh food in one go than before to minimise the number of times we need to shop, but there's a risk that some may pass its use by date before we get to eat it.
To avoid throwing anything away, check out our tips for ensuring all your food goes to good use.
If you've stocked up on fruit and veg but worry you won't get through it all before it starts to turn, freeze it. Plan your meals in advance, and anything you think won't be used, chop up and pop into plastic containers or freezer bags. Many fruits and vegetables freeze well and can then be used in smoothies, pasta sauces, soups, casseroles and pies. Useful information here about how to freeze veggies.
When cooking a meal, cook more than you need if it will stop you from wasting ingredients – then freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for another meal. This is a great way to build up a few convenient meals for the freezer and save yourself cooking another day.
If you have some foods that have been lurking at the back of your cupboards for a while, have a think about how you can use them up. We should all be avoiding buying food we don't really need, so now is the time to get creative! Do a quick internet search for 'things to cook with XXXXX' to give you some recipe ideas. I managed to use up a bag of cashew nuts this week in a stir-fry!
If you have fruit and veg turning soft as it reaches its best before date, make a soup or smoothie to ensure it gets used. While you may not want to snack on a mushy banana, it will blend perfectly into a smoothie. Black bananas are perfect for banana cake. Potatoes that are starting to sprout are absolutely fine to cook and mash – either eat straight away or freeze for later use.
We should also use our senses to determine if something is okay to eat or not. Does it look, feel and smell okay? Then chances are it is. It's more important than ever to not bin a yogurt when it's a day past its 'best before' date – plain yogurt should be fine for up to 2 weeks after providing it's not been opened – but again, use your senses to determine if it smells and looks OK. On a positive note, this whole experience may help us to make the most of what's in our kitchens and stop throwing away perfectly good food. Save waste and money!
Finally – check out the difference between 'use-by' and 'sell-by' dates in this helpful article.
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.