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Guide to Waste less, Save more

Find out everything you need to know about Waste less, Save more.

Planning

Planning just a few meals each week can help you save money by making sure you buy what you need and use up what you already have. Only four in 10 of us take a shopping list to the supermarket. Letís make that number bigger!

Check the cupboards, fridge, and freezer before you go

Make a list of what you need. This makes the actual shopping trip so much easier. No trying to think if you've already got one, no trudging round looking at every single item - just turn up, get what you need, and head home! If you are in a rush, take a 'shelfie' picture of the inside of your fridge to save doubling up on items you already have.

Inspire!

When you know what food youíve got, itís time to think about what you want to make. There is plenty of help online to find new recipes for using up the food you have. For inspiration, you can search by specific foods and ingredients. Check out Sainsbury's food rescue and Love Food Hate Waste for some great ideas to get you started, or have a flick through a recipe book.

Browse and save

The internet is a top source of meal inspiration. Sites such as Pinterest are great for bookmarking the ideas that make your belly rumble, like a virtual shopping list. Homemade is another delicious source for tips, recipes and food trends that could revolutionise your kitchen. Browse for fab ideas with leftovers too. If you've got fussy eaters in your household, getting them involved in the browsing for food recipes means they are more likely to have a clear plate at tea time.

List your favourites

Every home should have a core of go-to recipes, whether itís for a quick, easy supper, or evenings when you fancy spending a little more time over the stove. Just jotting these down on a sheet of paper and sticking it to the fridge will jog your memory next time you write out a shopping list.

Theme nights

Having specific foodie themes for each night of the week could really simplify your shopping and make it a little more fun, especially for families with kids. It might sound boring to have regular pasta, fish or steak nights, but the variations are endless - and it will make searching for new recipe ideas even easier. Just search by core ingredient and scribble your shopping list accordingly.

Cook once, eat twice

Once you have your plan, make extra so you can freeze leftovers. That way, for days when plans go a bit awry, youíll always have something on hand. Equally, where you can, cook extra that could be used in another dish.

Remember, itís not only dinner or tea

If you plan your lunches at the same time, you can maximise the food you use up so nothing goes to waste.

Donít plan all seven days in the week

If plans often change and unexpected leftovers can disrupt everyone's best laid plans. For example, leave one night as freezer night as it can stay safe at home on pause until you need it the following week.

Shopping

Shopping is often seen as a stressful experience but here we can (hopefully!) make it easier, less stressful and save you money! What more could you ask for?

Know your dates!

Simply knowing the difference between the best before and use by date. The use by date is about safety and the most important date for you to remember! Foods can be eaten and frozen up until midnight of the use by date, but not after. For use by to be a valid guide, you must carefully follow the storage instructions. Best before date is about quality, not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date, but may not be its best. It may slightly change its texture and/or flavour. They are usually still really tasty, however changing how you use the food can really bring it back to life.

Make the most of offers!

Many of us think in-store offers will only make us waste food but actually we can make some real savings - just get into the habit of checking first if you can use it all. Itís not necessarily what you can use that day or week, but what you can use. Snapping up a bargain reduced item or making the most of a savvy offer is great if you can use it all up, freeze it or share it with a friend or family. However, if half is going to end up in the bin so costing you as much if not more than the non-offer cost, maybe best to steer clear.

While the kids are away, do the shopping that day

Shopping is usually cheaper without the kids. Try to arrange for a friend to look after them while you shop. You can repay the favour for them.

Look at the price

Look at the price per 100g on the price tickets when comparing price of products to promotions, sometimes promotions are not as good as the normal product.

Stock the freezer

Well stock the freezer with essentials, for example frozen vegetables are often as nutritious as fresh vegetables plus you use it as you need it so you waste less and save you money.

Last but not least donít forget the golden rule, never go shopping hungry.

Storage

Storing your food in the right way can help it stay fresh for longer. Find out the best way to store food at home.

Remember to keep your fridge temperature below 5C

Research shows that up to 70% of our fridges are too warm, meaning food wonít last as long as it could. Milk goes off much quicker if the fridge is not cool enough. Itís best not to put bread in the fridge as it goes stale much quicker, bread is best kept in a cool dark place such as the bread bin or a store cupboard. Bread also freezes well for use another time.

Did you know the 13.5 billion Ďfive a dayí portions are thrown away each year in the UK?

The fridge is the ideal place to store most of your fruit and veg (except bananas and pineapples Ė keep these cool but donít refrigerate; potatoes and onions - keep them, separately, in a cool, dark place). Fruit lasts up to two weeks longer in their pack in their fridge, than in the fruit bowl.

Fruit and veg packaging has been designed to help it stay at its best for longer

Donít take the packaging off until youíre ready to eat the food. Check the pack for instructions if you're unsure. Once opened, food like cheese and ham keep better if theyíre well reclosed, wrapped or put in an air tight container. Make the most of your food by cooling leftovers as quickly as possible after cooking and store them in the fridge. Eat within two days or freeze for another time.

Why have frenemies, when you can have vegimates?

What fruit and vegetables you store together can make a big difference to how long or short they last. So Look here, and rearrange your veggies and fruits to suit. Finding the perfect pals, could save you over £100 a year.

Portioning

Portioning regularly finding you have that same amount of mash potato in the pan? Or handful of spaghetti? Or kids never finishing their tea? Portioning is the key for you.

It never looks enough!

Itís so easy to cook and prepare too much. When you're about to cook rice or pasta, it is difficult to judge how much you should actually cook as it never seems to look like it will be enough Ė ĎHmm... I'll just add a bit moreí is the general thought for most of us in the kitchen. Then when it's time to dish up, there's that last extra portion left behind in the saucepan that mostly ends up in the bin. Forty per cent of avoidable food waste is due to cooking too much. In the UK, 45,000 tonnes of cooked rice and 33,000 tonnes of cooked pasta is thrown away each year. (WRAP, 2008).

Find your fit

Use a measuring tool to help with cooking the right amount. Alternatively, test out things you have in your house as measurers, for example egg cups, mugs or old containers. If the shoe (or tub) fits, save it and make that as your rice, pasta or couscous portioner. Measuring your portion sizes can help to reduce wasted food and can save you and your family money.

Serve yourself

Try a serve yourself approach in your house. You know how much food you want, so youíre the best judge of how much food to put on your plate. You can always help yourself more. Alternatively, with some meals you can put the meal in the middle of the table, for people to add a little to their plate at a time. That way any leftovers on the serving plate, can be saved for something else. With children, a little bit at a time way of eating, has worked really well for families in Swadlincote saving many half-eaten dinner plates from going to feed the bin. Why not try a buffet style or tapas themed dinner? As well as being a fun way to eat, it also makes it easier to see the amounts eaten and will help you remember how much to portion out for the next meal.

Freezing

Freezing make your freezer your friend, and save that food for another day. When it comes to reducing the amount of wasted food, a well-run freezer is a must.

Freezers are a great way to make the most of your food. They act like a pause button, giving us more time to eat and enjoy the food we buy. Here are the golden tips for you to stick to:

You can freeze pretty much everything!

Fruit, chillies, potatoes, milk, cooked meat and bread.  You can even freeze cheese with the exception of soft cheese as the texture goes very strange!

The freezer acts like a pause button on food

You can freeze it right up to midnight on the use-by date. It also stores safely for a long time - it's just that the quality will start to deteriorate after three months. Ideally use within six months, but don't panic if it's been there longer. It will just need longer, slower cooking and a bit more added flavour likes herbs and spices to make it taste great once again.

Always wrap the food well in the freezer

And donít forget to label everything with the date and what it is. When you want to make use of it defrost overnight in the fridge, use within 24 hours and cook till piping hot. If you need it quickly, food can be defrosted safely in the microwave just check that its defrosted thoroughly and there are no icy bits!

Freeze in portions

Freeze food in realistically sized portions. You don't want to have to defrost a stew big enough to feed eight when you're only feeding a family of three. If you live on your own and want to buy in bulk, then donít forget you can take food out of its packaging and split it into usable portion sizes.

Ice cube trays

Ice cube trays can be a really useful simple tool to help you save little bits and bobs. Whether itís fresh herbs in olive oil, fresh lemon juice or zest, homemade stock, pesto or even wine! the possibilities are endless. Those little bits saved really do add up.

Keep it cool

When you put cooked food in the freezer, make sure it is completely cool before it goes in. This will prevent an increase in the temperature of the whole freezer. The same rule applies to refrigerating food.

Only refreeze food, if youíve cooked it between freezes

When food is thawed bacteria can multiply quickly, particularly at room temperature. If you pop it in the freezer, the bacteria survive and can reach harmful levels on the second thawing. However, if you cook the food after itís been defrosted and then refreeze it, this is safe due to the heat of cooking killing the bacteria.

Leftovers

Experiment and find ways to love your leftovers. Whether that is by transforming it into something new or by reliving the scrumptious meal you had the night before.

Vegetable peelings

Vegetable peelings make delicious and healthier crisps. They are a great pre-dinner snack!

Grate cheese

Grate cheese and then freeze it if you think you wonít eat it in time. It is perfectly good used straight from the freezer on toast or sprinkled over your pasta, cottage pie.

Fruit feeling squidgy?

Freeze individual soft fruits that are past their best in an ice cube tray and top up with water. These make lovely fresh additions to a glass of tap water or a yummy cocktail!

Donít let the banana brown in the fruit bowl!

Peel them, chop them and pop them in the freezer. Great for Ďice creamí. Whizz up in a food processor and serve! Add milk, cream or squash and make a delicious smoothie!

Pasta topper

Whizz leftover bread up into crumbs, freeze and use them to sprinkle on pasta bakes for a crunchy topping.

Lunch club

Cool and place leftovers from dinner in a container and take to work to eat for lunch the next day. Saving you time, money and your food from the bin.

Rice is nice

Having rice is safe as long as you cool it within one hour and store in the fridge and eat within 24 hours, cook until steamy. Leftover rice can make a tasty rice pudding, add to a soup or throw into a frittata.

Food sharing

If you often struggle to buy the right amount of food or your plans change regularly which means you end up throwing food away, why not share it instead?

There are many ways that you can start sharing surplus food within your local community today.

Olio

This is a free mobile app that allows you to share food with people nearby. You can also rescue food off the app if you like. Most food is free to a good home Ė so download Olio today and start sharing!

Swadlincote has a community fridge!

This is located at CVS in Swadlincote town centre. You can pick up anything from surplus veg, to bread, to sealed packaged foods, all for free and within their use-by date, donated by local businesses. This is open to the public and runs on an honesty policy. Donate or rescue food between 10am and 3pm Monday to Friday.

Donate to the local food bank

Give to those in need. Here's a list of local drop off points and food items that are required in your area

Share food with your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues!

Made too much spaghetti Bolognese and not got room to freeze it? Ask family and friends round for an impromptu dinner or if they would like some leftovers for their own freezer or lunchbox.

Get connected

Why not create a group WhatsApp or Facebook messenger chat so that you can easily share with your nearest and dearest?

Going on a break?

If there is food you know you won't manage to enjoy, share it with your neighbour. They'll appreciate the kind gesture and you'll feel better that food isn't going to waste. You never know, they may even return the favour one day.

Set up a food swap table in your workplace

If you're feeling brave, this is a great way to bring your team together. Use a designated space in the office where people can bring in food they want to donate. If you have a fridge, have one shelf that can be used for food swaps. Happy sharing.