Stop Food Waste Day: Six ways to reduce food waste when you have a budget

Stop Food Waste Day: Six ways to reduce food waste when you have a budget

Do not take a “best-before” date for face value

Many of us are guilty of looking at a best-before date on food, seeing that it is over, and discarding the product. But that label does not mean that the food can not be eaten safely, it just means that the quality has probably been reduced. It may not taste so good or look so appealing, but it is unlikely to be unsafe to eat unless it has visibly gone off or smells bad.

These dates differ from the expiration date, which you should adhere to, even if the food looks and smells good. Failure to do so may result in food poisoning.

Be smart about how to store supplies to reduce food waste

Appliances like refrigerators and freezers are expensive and prohibitive for some people. As many as five million British households lived without these essential appliances last year.

But there are still ways to extend the life of the food. If you have direct access to outdoor areas, products such as milk in a cooler bag outside make them last for a few days, especially in the colder months. If you have a freezer, but – as in many households – it is too small to store much, you can use the same cooler bag trick with ice blocks, which can help the food last a little longer.

Eggs and butter can be stored safely in a cool place indoors, but avoid things like yogurt that are particularly sensitive to changing temperatures. Since it is safer to store vegetables for a few days instead of meat, it is good for the planet and also safer for you to choose vegetable heavy meals.

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Alternatively, some products may be stored for a longer period of time if stored in a watertight container and stored in cold water. And lastly, keep an eye out for sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace where white goods in good condition can often be found cheaply.

The materials you use to store food also make a difference. Salads and leaves do better when stored in paper rather than, for example, plastic.

Eggs last longer than you think

Even if the best-before dates on your egg box have long since passed, they can still be fine to eat (especially if they have been stored in a cool place). Research from the app Too Good to Go showed that the British laid as many as 720 million eggs a year in 2018.

Try the marriage test before throwing out a box. Put an egg in a spacious glass or bowl of water. If it sinks and stands upright on the bottom, it’s probably fine to eat. If it floats, gases have accumulated inside and it should not be eaten.

Pick up the phone

There are a number of apps that help both households and businesses get rid of their surplus food and make sure it goes to someone who needs it.

If you have problems with food waste, put what you have on the Olio app. It will connect you with the locals looking for extra food, ingredients and household products, which means you can avoid food waste and help a neighbor at the same time. This also means that if you are short of cash and need an easy way to pick up some free food, someone in your local area can probably help.

NoWaste helps you keep track of the food you have at home and manage your grocery shopping, so make sure you only pick up what you need. Its handy menu planner also lets you organize your kitchen so you use all the extra ingredients you have.

Do not be put off by frozen food

The majority of the food we throw away is fresh fruits and vegetables. Buying frozen – if you have access to a freezer – means that it lasts as long as you need it, is usually cheaper than fresh goods and is just as nutritious.

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Make homemade broth or freshen up your water intake

The leftovers we often throw away without thinking can be extremely helpful when it comes to spice up our favorite recipes.

Quickly fry peels, stalks and tops of vegetable leftovers with a little olive oil, add water and simmer to create a flavored vegetable broth.

Alternatively, you can use citrus fruits and apple peels and skins to make your drinking water more appealing. Berries can do the same job, even if they start to look a little unappealing, and can subsequently be thrown into a healthy smoothie.

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