In association with Love Food Hate Waste
We’re two weeks into our challenge by Love Food Hate Waste to reduce the amount of food we waste this Lent.
Their #giveupbinningfood campaign hopes to inspire households to change their eating, shopping and food storage habits to help cut down on the amount of food which is unnecessarily thrown away.
In the UK, £13 billion of edible food was thrown away from our homes in 2015 alone. That’s a total of 7.3 million tonnes of food (400,000 tonnes of that here in Wales), which if prevented, would have the same environmental benefit as taking one in four cars off the road. Cutting back on food waste could also save households up to £15 a week, a whopping £60 a month – or £700 a year!
As a household, we are really aware of just how much food is wasted and how bad it is for the environment. But being a busy family with three kids and two working parents, inevitably some food does go to waste. This challenge has really made me question our food shopping, storage and eating habits to see if there is more we can do.
The campaign started on Wednesday 1st March and runs for the 40 days of Lent until Thursday 13th April, and I’m blogging about it regularly during that time.
Each week has a different theme. Last week, the focus was on meal planning and I shared all of our tips in this post.
This week, the focus is on food storage – where and how to store your food and simple hacks that can make food last longer. Here’s 55 tips to get you started!
You can catch up with all our Love Food Hate Waste posts here.
- Store away from other fruits, as the ethylene gas they omit will cause other fruits to ripen too quickly.
- The one exception is potatoes, on which is has the opposite effect. Pop an apple in with your spuds and it will delay them from sprouting.
- Keep fresher for longer by storing in a clean jar, in water, just like you would a bunch of flowers.
- If they’re not ripening, store them with bananas to speed up the process.
- If you’ve too many ripe avocados that you won’t use in time, you can freeze them. Just remove the skin and stone, chop the flesh into chunks and then squeeze on some lemon juice to stop it turning brown. When defrosted, it’ll be soft and perfect for home-made guacamole.
- Stop cut avocados from turning brown, either by dowsing with lemon juice, or leaving the pit in and placing them in an airtight container with a piece of onion. This helps prevent the oxidation, which turns them brown.
Bagged salad leaves
- Prevent salad leaves from going mushy by putting a folded square of kitchen roll in the bag once opened, or even better lining a container with kitchen roll and storing the salad leaves. This draws out the moisture and keeps salad crisper for longer.
- Store on the work surface, but away from other fruit as the ethylene gas they omit will cause other fruit to ripen too quickly.
- You can also keep bananas fresher for longer but wrapping their stems in cling film, as this prevents the ethylene gas, which causes them to ripen, from escaping.
- Use overripe bananas to make a delicious and healthy homemade ice cream. Peel, slice and freeze for at least six hours. Blitz them in a food blender until creamy and serve immediately.
- They seem to start going mouldy as soon as you buy them! Give them a bath in a water-vinegar solution, pat dry and they’ll stay fresher for longer. Find out how here.
- If they are already on the turn, whizz in a blender with some milk or yoghurt to make homemade ice lollies
- Or put a few berries in ice cube trays, top with water and freeze for a lovely twist on traditional ice cubes.
- If you regularly find yourself chucking out stale bread, then freeze half the loaf when you first buy it. Either as a half a loaf, or in portions of two slices so you can just take out what you need each day.
- Store bread at room temperature. Don’t keep it in the fridge as although it will stop it from going mouldy, it will go stale faster.
- And if it does go stale, use it to make croutons. Cut the bread into cubes, spread them on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over some dried basil (or any other herb you fancy), and season with salt and pepper. Bake for around 10 minutes, making sure to turn them half way through. Serve them with soup or pasta dishes immediately, or they will keep in an air tight container for a couple of days.
- Keep broccoli fresher or longer, by slicing a chunk off the stalk, immersing the end on water and leaving it to crisp up overnight.
- And if it is past its best, fry up an onion and some garlic in a pan, add the chopped broccoli and cover with water, bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes, add a lump of Stilton, for a delicious bowl of soup.
- If you’re planning a birthday party, then it’s useful to know that fruit or sponge cakes can be wrapped tightly in cling film and frozen, before decorating.
- Just like asparagus above, you can store it in a water-filled glass jar, like you would a bunch of flowers. Or you can wrap it in foil before freezing, and keep it fresh for up to four weeks.
- Wrap in cheese paper, or baking paper, rather than cling film, and then place in an air-tight container. This will help it breathe and stay fresher for longer.
- If you use a lot of cheese, grate the whole block at once, either by hand or in a blender, and store in an air tight container , and just grab a handful when you need it for sandwiches, topping lasagne etc.
- Those little bits you just can’t scrape out of your Nutella jar needn’t go to waste. Simply fill the jar with warm milk, put the lid back on, give it a good shake and voila! Instant hot chocolate. Or pop in a couple of scoops of ice cream to jazz up your dessert. Also works with peanut butter. More fun ideas here.
- Add left over cream to soups and pasta sauces for a rich and indulgent taste.
Dry foods (cereal, pasta, and oats)
- These usually come in bags or bags within boxes, but as air can sneak in, they can easily become stale… and no one wants soft corn flakes for breakfast. Decant instead into air tight containers, either a plastic one with a lid that seals solidly, or glass mason jars.
- Store in the fridge… but not in the door as the changes in temperature can make them go off more quickly.
- Keep pesky weevils away with three simple steps: freeze for 96 hours to kill off eggs; decant into an air tight glass jar or plastic container; pop a bay leave in the container. And don’t buy any more than you’ll use in a month or two, as you’re more likely to get a flour bug infestation if it’s been sitting in the back of a cupboard for too long. See more here.
- Cut herbs can be kept fresher for longer in a jar with water in it, just like you would with flowers.
- Chop up left over fresh herbs, mix with olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays. You can then pop one out when you need it for cooking.
- Keep in the cupboard, not the fridge. Honey can last for hundreds of years, even when opened. But if it crystalises, pop the jar in a pan with some simmering water and stir the honey until the crystals dissolve.
Lemons and limes
- If you store them in the fruit bowl, they’ll dry out within a week. Store them instead in a sealed glass jar covered with water, as this seals the peel and stops them from drying out. The jars can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.
- You can also freeze them in slices or halves, until you’re ready to use them.
- If you don’t think you’ll use it in time, freeze it, either in a carton, decanted into a plastic bottle, or in ice cube trays, which are the perfect size for a cuppa.
- Keep mayo fresher for longer by storing it in the fridge door. The inner part of the fridge is too cold, which can cause mayo to separate and leave oil at the top of the jar.
- Plastic containers can cause condensation and mushrooms to go soggy, so store them in a paper bag instead
- Half-used peppers will last longer if you store them with the stalk and seeds still in tact
- Whether it’s home made or shop bought, it doesn’t last very long. Decant into ice cube trays along with a drop of olive oil to stop it drying out, and just use it as and when you need it.
- Keep them in a cool, dry place. Take them out of plastic bags, which can create moisture, and put them in a bowl or paper bag.
- Storing with apples will help stop the potatoes from sprouting.
- Keep potatoes away from onions, as they both produce gases that will cause the other to go off.
Root vegetables (including carrots, parsnips, radishes and swede)
- If you’re using them soon after purchase, consider whether you really need to peel them. Often they’re fine with a good scrub.
- If you won’t be eating them for a few days then cut off the tops. The roots draw moisture from the veggies, meaning they will dry out quickly and lose flavour. (Although not beetroot as cutting the tops will make it ‘bleed’.)
- Don’t wash vegetables until you want to eat them, as the moisture will make them spoil faster.
- Adding a few grains of uncooked rice to a salt shaker will stop the salt from getting damp.
- Add wilted spinach to pasta sauces and soup for an extra injection of iron and vitamin C.
- If a bunch is too big for immediate use, cut into slices and store in a plastic container until you need them (you can even freeze them). You can sprinkle them onto pizzas and salads as and when you need them.
- If you only use the green ends, then store your spring onions in a jar with a small amount of water in, and keep it in sunlight. Cut off what you need and then it will grow back. See this article for full details.
- Don’t store in the fridge as this can cause a hard centre and unpleasant taste. Instead, keep in a cool, dry ventilated container, away from light and heat. You can store cooked and mashed or sliced sweet potatoes in the freezer – here’s how.
- You can also use left over cooked sweet potato in a homemade face scrub, by blending with equal parts oats and yoghurt. Massage into your face for a couple of minutes, before rinsing off.
- The water used from boiling sweet potatoes can also work as a skin toner. Just sieve the water to remove any bits of potato, decant into a jar and store in the fridge.
- Best stored at room temperature and not in the fridge. The cold of the fridge will stop them from ripening and change their texture, losing their juiciness.
- If they’re already ripe and you’re worried about them spoiling before you can eat them, then refrigerate but take them out at least an hour before eating.
- If they’re green and you want them to ripen, pop them in a brown paper bag with a banana to speed up the process.
- Yep, we all know that joke about there not being any left-over wine in your house…. But if there should happen to be, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. Use the individual portions in sauces, or pop red wine ice cubes in a jug of sangria, and white wine cubes in a summer spritzer, to keep it cool without diluting the drink.
And a few notes on storing food
Think about storage containers
- Decant dry foods into glass jars with air tight lids – although after cleaning, make sure they’re dried thoroughly as even tiny droplets of moisture can spoil dried food.
- Make sure plastic containers are air-tight so that food doesn’t spoil.
- Is that soup or gravy in that container in the back of the freezer?! Always add labels to food before you freeze it, so you don’t end up defrosting and wasting the wrong thing. Include the date it was made so you don’t bypass recommended freezer storage times.
- If decanting food out of its original container, make sure to add the new use by/best by date.
Organise your fridge
- Store raw meats away from other foods, watch what you put in the door (mayo is okay, eggs and milk are best in the main part of the fridge).
- Keep the temperature at the Food Standards Agency of 5°C or below. A fridge thermometer is often more accurate than the built in dial.
- Remove fruit and veg from plastic bags and packaging to reduce condensation and keep food fresher for longer.
- Don’t just lump all your fruit in together, as apples pears etc can produce ethylene which causes other food to ripe too quickly.
All images thanks to Pixabay