Tips on reducing food waste in your home

A significant portion of food waste occurs in the home
A significant portion of food waste occurs in the home Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Tesco has announced today that it wasted 28,500 tonnes of food in its stores and distribution centres in the first half of this year. But waste by supermarkets is only part of the problem.

Research by the supermarket chain on its 25 bestselling items shows that much of the waste occurs after the point of sale, in customers' homes.

  • Bagged salad: More than a third of waste takes place in homes
  • Grapes: More than half wasted in homes
  • Apples: A quarter wasted in homes
  • Bananas: One in ten wasted in homes

Tesco has acknowledged that supermarket offers like 'Buy One, Get One Free' are part of the problem. But there are many things consumers can do to reduce levels of waste:

Household food and drink waste in the UK by food type
Household food and drink waste in the UK by food type Credit: WRAP

Bakery

  • If you rarely finish a big loaf of bread, buy a half-loaf or try freezing half of it. Slices can be toasted from frozen or defrosted and used as normal.
  • Cakes can also be frozen – either in slices, or whole.
  • Store bread in a cool, dark and dry place such as a cupboard or a bread bin, not the fridge.
  • 'Best before’ refers to quality, not safety, so bakery products can still be consumed after this date but might no longer be at their best.
  • ‘Use by’ refers to safety, not quality, so food and drink should not be consumed after this date, even if it looks and smells fine.
  • ‘Display until’ and ‘sell by’ can be ignored by shoppers (they are for staff)
  • To freshen up a day-old loaf, hold it briefly under cold running water. Give it a shake and put it in a hot oven for around 10 minutes.
  • Slightly stale bread can be blended into breadcrumbs for use in other meals.
  • Leftover bread, pastries and buns can be used to make variants of bread-and-butter pudding.
Fruit and veg is best stored in the lower shelves of the fridge with the exception of bananas, pineapples, potatoes and onions
Fruit and veg is best stored in the lower shelves of the fridge with the exception of bananas, pineapples, potatoes and onions Credit: Ton Koene/DPA/Press Association Images

Fruit and vegetables

  • Planning your meals in advance will prevent waste and save money, as you can use ingredients in more than one meal.
  • Planning portion sizes will also cut down on waste. Make a note of how much of each ingredient you will need and weigh it out, instead of judging by sight.
  • Most fruit and vegetables are best stored in the bottom of the fridge.
  • Bananas, pineapples, potatoes and onions are best stored in a cool, dry place instead of the fridge.
  • Fruit and vegetables will stay fresher for longer if kept in their original packaging
  • Splitting multi-buy offers with a friend can save you both money.

Dairy products and eggs

  • Cheese and milk should be stored alongside cooked meats in the, ideally above raw meat and fish
  • Eggs can be eaten a day or two after their 'best before' date providing they are cooked thoroughly
  • Keep your fridge temperature below 5C. Research shows that up to 70% of our fridges are too warm, meaning milk will go off quicker.
Anaerobic Digesters, like this one in Dorset, can harvest gas from food waste and use it to generate energy
Anaerobic Digesters, like this one in Dorset, can harvest gas from food waste and use it to generate energy Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Composting and recycling

Some food waste is inevitable, but there are alternatives to simply throwing it in the bin:

  • Composting is a great way of transforming food waste into nutrient-rich food for your garden. Everything from vegetable and fruit peelings to teabags, toilet roll tubes, cereal boxes and eggshells can be composted.
  • Find out if your local council offers a food waste recycling collection service. Find out which local authority you live in here.

Find more tips on composting and recycling here.

Useful website

  • Learn more about food waste in the UK with this WRAP graphic
  • The Gleaning Network helps collect and distribute food that farmer's can't sell to supermarkets