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Waste Not, Want Not by Ali Gwynne

Cut down on food waste and save money

It’s a common conundrum, you pass the supermarket on the journey home from work, unable to recall what’s in the fridge. Consequently, you end up buying meat, bread and milk that you not only don’t need, but will inevitably have to throw out when it spoils.

Unnecessary food wastage is an issue and as consumers we need to do everything we can to combat it. It’s said that as many as 8.4m families in the UK struggle to when it comes to putting meals on the table – yet alarmingly 7.3m tonnes of food waste still ends up in landfills each year.

The past ten years has seen a surge in the awareness of unnecessary food waste with the help of campaigns such as “Love Food, Hate Waste”, prompting people to rethink the way they shop and cook. Supermarkets have also come under fire to improve packaging so that consumers know when food is no longer edible, and as a result, the government launched a voluntary contract called the Courtauld Agreement between supermarkets and manufacturers as a way of stopping food from ending up in landfills.

So, aside from reducing what goes into landfills each year, what’s in it for you? Throwing edible food away comes at a cost of around £200 per person annually, and £700 for the average family. So, cut your yearly grocery bill down to size by getting a little creative with your meal choices and save more of the food you buy from the bin with the tips below.

1. Stalemate

You’d be surprised to know that stuffing works better with stale, rather than fresh, bread – so if your loaf is more brick than bread, chuck it in a pan instead of the bin! Alternatively create a batch of delicious croutons to top off a Caesar salad, or whip up a toasted sandwich or two.

2. Bring your veg back from the brink

Fridges tend to suck the life (read: moisture) out of fresh veg that naturally has a high water content. Try submerging the likes of wilting carrots, celery, cucumbers, salad leaves, spinach and broccoli in ice-cold water for 30 minutes to spruce them up again.

3. It’s what’s on the inside that counts

Mould on the outside of hard cheeses like Cheddar or Red Leicester can easily be scraped off to reveal their inner beauty, just don’t try it on soft cheeses like Brie as these are inedible once mouldy.

4. An important date

Keep a close eye on ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels to prevent food from going bad. Products with short shelf lives such as dairy products are often banished to the back of the fridge where they are easily forgotten. Try keeping these towards the front of the fridge where they’ll be front of mind.

5. Lovely leftovers

Getting inventive with leftover food is one way to save money. It all boils down to thinking before you throw.

-The leftovers from a Sunday roast (if you’re lucky enough to have any!) can be used in curries, soups, risottos and even sandwiches. If you’re willing to go one step further, then a simple bone broth can be made from the carcass, ensuring nothing goes to waste (this can even be frozen in batches for a cheap stock alternative).

-Portion leftover meals into sealed bags and pop in the freezer as ‘ready meals’ for one.

-If you didn’t quite manage to polish off that bottle of wine then the last dregs can be frozen in ice cube trays and popped into stews and casseroles when cooking.

-Get your just desserts! Cut the bruises off old apples and use in apple pies or crumbles, alternatively mash up black bananas and whip up a batch of muffins or a cake.

6. Failing to plan is planning to fail

Meal planning is one of the most effective ways you can save on your food bills. At the beginning of each week take a photo of your fridge, freezer and cupboards so that you don’t end up doubling up on grocery items. That way you won’t shop for things you already have.

Even implementing a few of these tips should help to cut down in the amount of food waste you create, so next time you pop to the shops think about how you can do your part in the war on food waste!