Most food waste is completely avoidable.
Wasting food is a pet peeve of mine. It only really started to bother me when I became a parent. Suddenly the food shopping included a lot more baby items, toiletries and cleaning products and as the price increased so did my awareness of how much food we were wasting.
I quickly realised that so much of our food waste was completely avoidable. A couple of simple steps and efforts meant that we had more food, less bills and a fairly smug feeling at the end of it all.
Here are some really easy ways to keep your food fresher for longer
1. Take five minutes to think about where you’re putting meat and fish as you unpack the shopping. I used to automatically put it all in the fridge only to take the packet of Salmon out a couple of days later and realize that it was passed its use by date.
Make a note of the dates (and actively buy the packs that have a better shelf life) and use that as a guide for your weekly food plan. Pop anything into the freezer that won’t be used by that date and simply take it out the night before you need to use it.
2. Switch to frozen vegetables where possible. Did you know that a lot of frozen fruit and vegetables actually have a better nutritional value than the fresh fruit and vegetables that are losing their vibrancy as each day goes by?
The frozen ones are frozen at their optimum level of freshness and are completely healthy to use. These days I even use frozen chopped onion, peppers and garlic. I find that I am more likely to use them daily (there is no chopping and they cook so quickly) and we waste less. They are also significantly cheaper so everyone is a winner.
3. Invest in decent Tupperware. If you have half a can of sweetcorn or leftovers from dinner they could be the perfect solution for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner but only if they are stored correctly. The fridge is a place where cross-contamination can take place.
Things will quickly lose their colour, flavour, safety and nutritional value if they are not stored correctly and properly sealed. We always keep the plastic tubs from our Chinese takeaway and find them great for this kind of thing once they’ve been washed.
4. Prep food early in the day. It allows for the inevitable lethargy and lack of motivation in the later part of the day and gets you ahead for dinner. If I’ve peeled and chopped carrots I’m going to use them.
5. If you notice a certain food is about to go bad give yourself permission to rethink that day’s menu plan. A packet of salad may be on its last legs and could be the perfect accompaniment if you re-jig the menu slightly. You can also bung sad looking vegetables or fruit into a pot or liquidiser to make a fresh soup or smoothie for everyone to enjoy before they go off!
6. Keep your apples separate from the other fruits in the bowl. They emit a gas which can cause other foods to decay at a quicker pace. Bananas will also stay fresher when they are part of a bunch so only separate them as you eat them.
7. Does your salt always stick together during warmer weather? Add a couple of grains of dry rice to the container and they will absorb the moisture and keep it at the ideal consistency.
8. Utilise your freezer. I store my block of parmesan in the freezer and only use it as a I need it. The same is done with a large ring of chorizo which can be cooked from frozen as it easily thaws. Pesto never goes in the bin because I always freeze the remainder of the jar in a little tub for a rainy day dinner. Fresh herbs can be frozen in zip lock bags or ice-trays too!
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.