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  1. ITV Report

Ten tips to cut kitchen waste and preserve food for longer

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Britons collectively throw out 7.3 million tonnes of food every year - and experts say much of that is down to confusion among consumers.

A third of food waste could be avoided if it was kept better and used in good time.

Now experts are calling for new labels to show where food is best stored and better indicate when it is still good to eat.

A number of shoppers told ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choithat they keep bread in the fridge to preserve its shelf life.

But in fact it goes off six times faster in a fridge than kept at room temperature.

Confusion over date labels alone results in 350,000 tones of food being wasted every year, at a cost of £1 billion nationally, said expert Dr Richard Swannell.

A new "little blue fridge" icon scheme was today introduced to show which foods will last longer if chilled.

Campaigners also want to bring back the snowflake logo which shows if groceries can be frozen at home.

Here are ten ways to cut kitchen waste and preserve food for longer.

  • Don't be swayed by multi-buy deals
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The easiest way to avoid food waste is to buy only as much as you need.

It's easy to be swayed by multi-buy offers or discounts, but especially for items with a short shelf life it can be poor deal if it means you end up with excess food which is ultimately binned.

It can also be helpful to create a food plan for the coming days before leaving for the shops to get a better idea of what is needed and how much.

  • Play it cool with your fridge
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Another simple way to help your food last longer is to ensure that your fridge is cool enough to preserve them properly.

It should be set at a temperature of between 3-5C to keep chilled foods at their best.

To check the temperature, place a thermometer in a glass of water and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Be aware that it can take 24 hours for it to fully adjust to any change you make on its settings.

  • Get creative with stale bread
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Bread is one of the most commonly wasted food items in the UK, but there is plenty you can do to avoid binning it.

It's worth considering freezing sliced bread and then taking out individual slices to toast.

Stale bread can also be used as fried croutons, in stuffing, or turned into breadcrumbs.

  • Keep more food chilled
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New advice from the "little blue fridge" scheme highlights some unexpected items that will last longer if you keep them chilled.

Apples, avocados, tomatoes and eggs are among the items that will last longer if they are kept in the vegetable drawer.

But potatoes and pineapples are examples of foods that last longest if kept at room temperature.

  • Be label savvy on food expiry dates
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Food can be marked with both 'best before' and/or 'use by' dates - and there is a big difference between the two.

A best before code is just that - a guide at to when something will be at its very best.

In contrast, a use by date gives a cut-off point after which its manufacturer cannot guarantee it will still be fresh and suitable to eat.

You can entirely ignore 'display by' and 'sell by' dates as they are solely to retailers' use.

  • Get portion size right
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Cut mealtime wastage by considering portion size when cooking - especially for carbohydrates like rice and pasta which are less likely to be saved.

Measuring the amount that you prepare can ensure that you get the right portion size and don't end up scraping the end of the pan into the bin.

  • Perk up tired veg

Floppy carrots, soft celery and tired greens can all be given a new lease of life by dunking them in a bowl of ice-cold water for half an hour.

It works because they all have a high water content and dry out in the fridge. A quick cold bath helps restore their lost moisture and returns them to freshness.

  • Give dinner the deep freeze treatment
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Most foods can be frozen, and for flavourings and pastes where a little goes a long way it can be especially useful.

Try spooning leftover pesto, curry pastes, grated ginger or chopped chillies into an ice cube tray for single portion supplies which can be easily popped into a pan when you need them.

Leftover fruit which is starting to go soft can also be frozen as a healthy chilled treat or smoothie base.

You can even freeze grated cheese for use as a store cupboard pizza or shepherds pie topping.

  • Consider your packaging footprint
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Food accounts for a large proportion of packaging disposed in most households - and much of it cannot easily be recycled.

Trying to avoid buying over-packaged food or choosing items wrapped in cardboard instead of plastic can help cut your household's waste.

It's also worth making sure you bring your own reusable shopping and vegetable bags.

  • Don't let leftovers go to waste
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Give leftovers a second bite at the cherry.

Storing single portion sizes of leftovers can make a quick and easy dinner for another day.

Some meals can also be creatively turned into new dishes.

For example, a Sunday roast can provide a week's worth of soups, curries and sandwiches with a little thought.