Make the most of food without all the kitchen kit and caboodle

Whether you are a fan of kitchen kit and caboodle, or prefer a minimalist approach, Veolia (Nottinghamshire County Council’s Waste Contractor) are supporting Love Food Hate Waste who have fantastic advice on everyday kitchen objects that can really help us make the most of the food we buy. Freezer bags, clips, pegs, takeaway containers, ice cream tubs, foil, clingfilm and even kitchen paper can be used to reduce the £12.5 billion of food that is thrown away by UK households every year.

Kitchen kit can help us store our food, work out the perfect portions and help make meals out of leftovers. The good news is that much of this kit is inexpensive or can be found by reusing items we already have in the home. Whether you are setting up home or having a good old clear out, below you’ll find ideas, hints and tips on essential kitchen kit and how everyday items can be used to help us save money by not wasting food, whatever our budget and however much storage space we have. 

If you’d like to win a Recycle for Nottinghamshire spaghetti measurer, can lid or bag clip, enter online at 0203 567 4392 by Friday 15th April 2016. 

All Wrapped Up
Most foods will keep at their best if stored in their original packaging but once the packs are opened, everyday items can help us prevent food either drying out or going soggy. Sadly when packaged food is thrown away, 80% is in packs that are more than a quarter full. Although an increasing number of our favourite foods come in clever packaging with seals or zips, basic items such as clips, clothes pegs and ties can be used to help food fresher for longer.

Just taking a few seconds to wrap items such as cheese, or slices of ham will prevent them from drying out and will keep them fresher for longer, and providing lovely sandwich fillings, saving you money on bought lunches. Folding over and pegging the breakfast cereal bag will stop it going soft.

Top Tubs
Tubs and lidded containers are key to reducing food waste but there is no need to go out and buy them specially. Takeaway containers are really useful to hang onto because they not only come with good sealed lids, they come in a range of portion sizes. They also stack which is good news when tight on storage space as well as stopping them cascading out of the cupboard. They are often see-through so it’s easier to see what’s lurking in your fridge.

It’s worth hanging on to a range of different sized tubs, so even if you have small containers left from when children were small, or you were freezing baby food, they can be re-used for small portions. Remember that only yoghurt pots and margarine tubs can go into your recycle bin so it’s best to reuse tubs and pots with lids as much as possible before throwing them away. 

If you are using tubs to freeze food, try to fill them fairly full to expel any air although leave a tiny bit of room for the frozen food to expand. If you find that your tubs are not quite the right size, or you want to freeze items like soup in individual portions here’s a top tip. Take a freezer tub- a takeaway container is perfect. Line it with a freezer bag and pour in what you want to freeze. After it has frozen, you can lift out the bag and it will then stack neatly in the freezer. You can then re-use the container on another occasion – perfect if you don’t have the space to store lots of plastic tubs.

Cute Cube Trays
Ice cube trays are for more than just ice! Perfect for those small portions of liquids or sauces, foods can be frozen and then transferred to sealed bags. It’s worth buying ones that are slightly flexible so that they don’t snap. Here are some ideas –
- Use up your fresh herbs by placing a spoonful in an ice cube tray. Cover with a small amount of water or melted butter and freeze.
- Recipes from salad dressings to cakes often call for just a few teaspoons of lemon or orange juice. Frozen in small amounts it saves having to cut into a new fruit.
- Freeze tomato puree and pesto – those fridge door favourites that you can’t get through within the stipulated date. 

Grate Stuff
Whether grating by hand or by using the food processor, grating blocks of your favourite hard cheese, especially when it’s on offer, will save both money and time as grated frozen cheese is easy to cook with. Grating veg for your own coleslaw can give new life to onions, carrots and cabbage that may be getting a bit tired. Even grating citrus fruit zest onto a piece of cling film, wrapping it tightly and freezing it will make good use of things from the fruit bowl the cost of wasted fruits, veg and salad waste per household per week is £1.84 

Mug up on portions
A staggering £4.1 billion of food is wasted just because we prepared, cooked and served too much. If you are not keen on getting the scales out every time you cook, why not make your own measuring mug for those items where it’s hard to guess right such as rice and pasta? Half a mug of uncooked rice is usually the right portion for two adults but what about other ingredients that you regularly use?

Once you have checked the portion size, why not use an old mug, plastic container or set of spoons? You could even make a mark on the outside with an indelible pen to help you measure it out quickly each time. If spaghetti is your bug bear and you don’t have a spaghetti measurer in the drawer you can always make your own by cutting a hole in some card – drawing round a 1 pence piece will give you a template for one adult portion.

For hints, tips and recipes on how to make the best of the food that we buy and save up to £60 a month, visit