Five ways to win the war on waste and cut family food bills

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
2 November 2012

Families are wasting an average £680 worth of food every year, a study revealed this week. More than a quarter of that is vegetables, followed by drinks and baked goods. But despite all that money heading for the rubbish dump, almost 70 per cent of us are still put off going green because we think it’ll be expensive.

It was also discovered that tea bags are the biggest culprit of unavoidable food waste, with 370,000 tonnes per year produced by the 165 million cups of tea we guzzle down. But not only can tea bags be recycled in food recycling or composted at home, you really can use the same bag twice!

[Related: Ways to transform your leftovers]

And even pricy objects aren’t safe British fridges. The Unilever survey revealed 10 percent of food wastage is dairy and six per cent meat. So to help families stop wasting and start saving (both their pennies and the planet) we spoke to Emma Marsh, head of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

[Related: How to eat well without a big shopping bill]

Here are her top tips for curbing our food waste:

1.    Planning is everything. Think ahead to what the week has in store - look in the fridge, freezer and cupboard, make a simple list so you only buy what you need and make the most of what you have.

2.    It may sound simple, but make a shopping list! How many times have you rushed off to the shops only to find yourself unsure whether you already have enough rice or potatoes? Spend a few minutes planning your list before you leave the house and you’ll navigate the shopping aisles in a much shorter trip.

3.    Make the most of your fruit and veg. Apples last even longer when you keep them in the fridge – up to two weeks longer if loosely wrapped. And if they’ve had a knock, try putting them in a crumble, a sauce or start the day with a smoothie. And check out what other foods you should and shouldn’t be keeping in the fridge.

4.    Did you know food can be frozen any time before the ‘use by’ date on the label? Then when you have an evening where you don’t feel like cooking, take it out of the freezer, defrost and use within 24 hours

5.    Use up leftovers. Ever thought of making the most of your potato peelings? Why not sprinkle with salt, pepper, chilli or whatever flavour takes your fancy and pop them in the oven. Free crisps the kids will love! We’ve got some great ideas to help you make the most of your leftovers.

6.    Portion control. Make sure you measure out food correctly before you cook. Lots of waste comes from cooking too much food. Using a cup work out how much rice or pasta you need for each family member before you cook so you’ll always know how much to make.

[Related: Which supermarket has the cheapest value range?]

Unilever has recruited 12 families to take part in its social experiment - the Sustain Ability Challenge, where they will be adapting to a greener lifestyle. Do you dare join them?

Share your best food-saving tips with us on Twitter.

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