In the UK we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year of which more than half of it could have been eaten or drunk. Wasting this food costs the average household around £50 a month - that's £600 a year!
Not only does wasting food have an impact on the pocket, but it also has a massive impact on the environment too. By reducing the amount of food we waste, we could save the equivalent of 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere. That is the equivalent of taking one in every five cars off the road!
Why do we waste food?
There are many reasons why the food we buy is wasted and doesn't get eaten - buying too much food, preparing too much, incorrect storage and food going out of date before it is used.
Preventing food waste begins at the start of each week before you go food shopping. Plan your meals for the next week or two and write down exactly what you need to buy on a shopping list. This way, you will only be tempted to buy what you really need. You could also keep an ongoing list as and when you run out of things.
Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you go shopping to make sure that you are not buying items that you already have. Try not to go shopping when you are hungary to avoid buying extra things you do not really need!
Know your dates
Do you know your 'use by' from your 'best before'? Knowing when your food needs to be eaten by is essential in helping prevent food waste.
These relate to safety. Food that displays a 'use buy' must be eaten before this date.
Food eaten after the 'best before' date are safe to eat but may no longer be at their best. Avoid eating eggs after their 'best before' date though.
Display until/ Sell by
These dates are for shop staff and can be ignored by shoppers.
When out shopping, choose items with as long a use by date as possible - unless you are planning on eating it before the date displayed.
Lots of items can be frozen rather than simply thrown away once they have reached their 'best before' or 'use by' date. Always check the label or packaging for instructions.
By storing food correctly, you can ensure that it stays fresher for longer.
Some foods are best being kept in their original packaging to keep them at their best whilst others may need to be kept in an air tight container one opened e.g. biscuits/crackers. Follow the instructions on the packaging for guidance.
Fridges are perfect for storing most of your fruit and vegetables, which helps keep them fresher for longer. Keep bananas and pineapples out of the fridge and onions and potatoes are best kept somewhere cool and dry. You can buy special bags to keep certain vegetables/fruit fresher for longer.
Freezing food is the perfect way to prevent food that is reaching its best before or use by date from being thrown away before you have chance to use it up. Milk, eggs, cheese and even some fruit can all be frozen for using up at a later date. Sliced bread can be taken straight out of the freezer and toasted.
Store cupboard essentials
Keep your store cupboard stocked up with essentials that can help you rustle up a meal in minutes from any leftovers that need using up. Foods such as rice, pasta, flour, tinned foods and sauces tend to have a long shelf life and are useful ingredients to keep handy when creating new dishes.
One of the main reasons that we throw away food is because we prepare or cook too much. Getting your portions right and only cooking the amount that you need will help avoid uneccessary waste. Kitchen scales, measuring jugs and spoons are all essential when determining your perfect portion.
Click here for more guidance on perfect portions.
Love Your Leftovers
If you have prepared too much food and have leftovers from your meal, rather than throw them away, save them to make a new meal the next day.
Love Food Hate Waste have a very handy recipe finder that will search for that perfect recipe. For recipe ideas, click here.
To help you save money and waste less, a new Love Food Hate Waste App has been developed to help you make the most of your food. To find out more and how to download, click here.
Love Food Hate Waste Cookbook
Sheffield residents sent us their favourite leftover food recipes which have been compiled into a handy little cookbook.
Download your copy below.