The average UK family is throwing away almost an entire meal daily, and wasting nearly £60 a month. So if you are looking to save money this January, take a look in your fridge. I hate food waste, and I wrote up eight of my favourite tips and ideas for Tesco Living. You can view the full list here, but these are some of my favourites.
Invest in a slow cooker. (Well, you know I love my slow cooker!) Inexpensive and simple to use, slow cookers are a great way to cut down on food waste. They turn your leftovers, along with any meat and fish that you have hanging around, into delicious soups or stews. Add your ingredients to the pot in the morning, then come home in the evening to a delicious dinner. I recommend the 3.5L Morphy Richards slow cooker (currently reduced to £22.49 on Amazon UK), which is large enough to feed a family and has three heat settings, plus a removable aluminium bowl to make washing-up easier. If you are a first-time user, you can pick up a slow cooker recipe book for less than £5.
Turn leftovers into pies. Alternatively, I throw all my leftover or ageing vegetables into a pastry-lidded vegetable pie: I use a simple recipe from Delia’s Vegetarian Collection (you can find my “frugalised” version of the recipe here). You can also draw inspiration from the Pieminster book. A superb recipe called Leftovers Pie is guaranteed to use up all the leftover meat and vegetables you have in the house.
Battle garden pests. Cucumber on the turn? If you have a plant under attack from slugs or other bugs, slice the cucumber and place it as close to the plant as you can, on an aluminium pie case or piece of tin foil. The cucumber reacts with the aluminium to create an undetectable odour that is kryptonite to garden beasties.
Put a sponge in your salad drawer. Place a clean, dry sponge in your salad drawer, to absorb excess moisture. This simple idea means that foods that are prone to mould and mush, such as strawberries and tomatoes, stay fresher for longer.
Upcycle old fruit into cakes and jams. When bananas soften and blacken, turn them into delicious banana bread. When apples and berries soften, turn them into crumble or jam. Although it isn’t a fruit, it’s worth saying that old root ginger – and let’s face it, everyone seems to have a hard, withered chunk at the back of the fridge – can also be turned into a delectable toast topping. This blog features a great reader recipe for rhubarb and ginger compote.
Your freezer is your friend. If you waste food because you can’t eat it all in time – say, if you live in a small household and always end up with half a loaf of mouldy bread, or if your favourite recipes fill the fridge with opened tins – don’t under-estimate what can be preserved in the deep freeze. I freeze everything from opened cartons of passata and ground coffee, to cakes and packets of butter. Herbs freeze particularly well: I freeze bay leaves and curry leaves whole, to preserve their freshness, alongside freezer bags filled with chopped mint and parsley.
You can read the full rundown of my tips on the Tesco Living website.
I’ll bet that if you’re a Miss Thrifty reader, you have a few nifty tips of your own up your sleeve. I’d love to learn more and share some of the best ideas, so please leave a comment on this post if you know of anything I have missed…