Food waste is a major issue throughout the country. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could be eaten. Wasting this food costs the average household £470 a year and rises to £700 for a family with children, an average of around £60.00 a month just thrown into the bin.

What can be done to reduce the amount of food waste?

The Love Food Hate Waste campaign has come up with 5 ways in which you can start to reduce the amount of food wasted.

1) Be familiar with both your fridge and freezer

Start saving money straight away by checking the ‘use by’ dates on what’s inside. How often do you find that the ‘use by’ date on a packet of ham or bag of sausages has been and gone and you end up throwing it away?  Meat, fish and ready meals are often the most expensive things we buy so it helps to get into the habit of regularly checking the dates on perishable items in your fridge.  Move them to the freezer if you don’t think you’ll have time to eat them. Dairy products are often forgotten about at the back of the fridge. Grate odd bits of cheddar and mix with breadcrumbs for a savoury topping or stir into mashed potatoes. Use up yoghurts in fruit smoothies or as toppings on breakfast cereals.

When you get home with your shopping, it is a good idea to transfer as much as you can to the freezer. If you have large packets of chicken pieces or fish, divide them up and freeze individual portions.

Understanding food dates and what the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels really mean is key to making the most of your fridge and freezer. 

The best before date refers to quality rather than food safety. Foods with a ‘best before’ date should be safe to eat after the ‘best before’ date, but they may no longer be at their best.  The ‘use by’ date refers to safety.  This means that it can be eaten up to the end of this date but not after even if it looks and smells fine.  Always follow the storage instructions on the pack. The ‘display until’ and ‘sell by’ dates can be ignored as these dates are for shop staff and not for shoppers.

2) Be store cupboard savvy

Try and keep your store cupboard and freezer well stocked with a variety of canned, dried and frozen goods that you know will be eaten. Tinned beans, frozen vegetables, meat and fish and dried fruit, nuts, pasta, noodles, rice and grains are all essentials with a long shelf life. This means that you will always have the ingredients to hand to pull together a meal or to jazz up any leftovers. The trick is to replace items once you have used them up.

3) Carb control

Day after day we serve up basic staples such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta but large amounts of these carbohydrates end up going straight in the bin. This may be because the portions are not right. Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website and use the portion control calculator to measure the right amount. For example, a mug full or rice will serve 4 adults. 

If you enjoy hot buttered toast, keep a ready sliced loaf in the freezer which can go straight into the toaster when you want a piece.  Large whole loaves of bread can be cut in half and one frozen for later in the week.

4) Lovely leftovers

It is amazing how many meals you can get from one chicken. If you enjoy a roast on a Sunday, the remains of the joint would make a great curry or a delicious risotto later in the week and you’ll always find enough for a sandwich.  If you have time the carcass can be boiled up for stock and soups.

If you have some dinner left in the pan, bag it and pop it in the freezer as a ready meal for one. Crusts and stale bread can be blitzed in the food processor to make breadcrumbs which can be stored in the freezer. The same can be done with cake or biscuits and used as a topping for crumbles and puddings. 

Being crafty with your food is the clever way to save those pennies, and it really just means thinking before you throw. With a little bit of thought you can create some delicious meals from your leftovers. Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website for some great recipe ideas.

5) It pays to plan

Planning your meals is one of the most effective ways you can cut food waste and food bills. Start by checking your fridge, freezer and store cupboard, and before you go shopping write a list so you don’t shop for things you already have.

For some great recipe ideas, you can also download this recipe book.

Residents can also try OLIO which is a food sharing app that is free to download and allows people to share food with other people which can then be collected direct from a drop box located at a shop, for example Sainsburys Local.

The Sainsburys Local at both Branston and Derby Turn provide leftover stock to OLIO for it to be put on to the app for people to request items.  The aim is to reduce the amount of food that is wasted across the country.  Visit for more details and to download the app.