How to keep food fresher for longer and feed your family, not the bin
Mouldy bread. Bendy carrots. Slimy salad. Green potatoes. Mushy bananas. Sound familiar? It happens to the best of us: according to Retail Times, the average UK family chucks out around £350 worth of food every year – that’s a lot of wasted money, especially now the squeeze on our household budgets has got ever tighter. Fresh food only has a limited shelf life before it begins to look a bit sad, so anything you can do to make it last that little bit longer and make those hard-earned pennies go further has got to be a good thing, right?
With our busy lives, it’s not always easy (or cost effective – we’ve all seen the price of fuel recently) to make multiple trips to the shops to keep stocking up on fresh food, so it pays to use up every last bit of what we buy. With a little bit of planning and some savvy storage ideas you can make sure your family eats well and your bin goes hungry.
Here’s just a few ideas to help you store your produce and keep it fresh – in and out of the fridge
They might just look like ordinary bags, but store your fruit and vegetables in one of these in the fridge and they’ll, erm, stay fresh longer – strawberries up to five days longer. And broccoli and carrots will last a whopping twice as long as in ordinary polythene bags. Now there’s no excuse to not eat your greens. Find find more ideas for fruit and vegetable storage on our website.
If some of your veg is starting to look a shadow of its former self, then make soup. Soup loves leftovers and forgotten-about veg. So chuck in all those bits and bobs – the lone half onion, the courgette from the back of the fridge, the no longer snappy sugar snap peas that you might otherwise throw out, and blitz them up into soup, which you can freeze and enjoy another day. Our Soup ‘n Sauce Bags are just the ticket for storing your soupy endeavours. They stand up on their own so they’re easy to fill, and have write-on panels for easy labelling. Super.
Mould on blue cheese – lovely (if you like that sort of thing). Mould on your now-no-longer-edible loaf – not so lovely. Help is at hand. Thanks to their polythene liners, these drawstring bags help stop your bread from drying out and going stale – ideal for home-made bread, or if you’ve bought a lovely crusty baguette or artisan loaf and want to enjoy them at their best, right down to the very last crust.
Yes, we have fresh bananas. That’s because we keep ours in a Banana Bag. It provides them with the exact amount of insulation and airflow needed to stop them from overripening in the fridge for up to two weeks – twice their normal lifespan. And there’s a cheeky little monkey on the outside too. What’s not to love? But if you do let those bendy beauties go a bit beyond their best, you can always make banana bread.
If your spuds usually go green and sprouty before you’ve had a chance to use them, make sure it doesn’t happen again by keeping your Maris Pipers or your King Edwards in one of these special bags. Made from breathable material with a liner that blocks out light, the bag allows air to circulate, keeping your potatoes mash or roastie-ready for longer, and the ‘trap door’ opening means you use them in the order they were bought, helping to minimise waste. Don’t be tempted to put onions in too – they won’t get on.
Sick of wrinkly peppers and wilted salad leaves? These Fridge Stores have vents for airflow and a perforated inner basket to drain excess water to help keep fruit, veg, herbs and salad fresh and unsoggy. And the outer container acts as a reservoir to help prevent herbs and salad from drying out too quickly.
From opened fruit punnets to plates of leftovers, these reusable, perforated, muiltipurpose food covers will stretch to fit and keep your food fresh and protected, without you having to resort to wasteful cling film. And during the warmer months, they’re ideal for covering plates, bowls and cups when you’re outside too. Sorry, beasties.
Fridge, freezer and microwave safe, these multitasking Zip Top Silicone Containers can be reused over and over again: for meals and snacks on the go; storing pasta, popcorn and more in the cupboard; or freezing leftovers for later… and then reheating them again in the microwave. With flat bases so they’re easy to fill, just push the top closed and use a zipping action for a really secure seal. And when it’s time to decant? That’s easy too; the ‘corners’ of the bag act like a pouring spout. How’s that for clever?
Offering a practical and versatile alternative to traditional food storage methods, vacuum sealing prolongs the life of your leftovers, freshly cooked food or just-bought groceries and meat and fish for up to five times longer. So you’ll throw away less and save money in the long run. And as all the air is sucked out of the storage bags, it makes your food easier to store in your fridge or freezer too.
Make friends with your freezer
And talking of freezing – we’ve been home freezing experts for over 50 years so we’ve learnt a thing or two over that time. Have a read of our blog to find hints and tips on how to get the most out of your freezer and help you cut down on food waste – here’s just a few ideas to get you thinking.
- Batch-cooked foods like soup, Bolognese, curry, chilli and stew are brilliant for freezing flat in Soup ‘n’ Sauce Bags or reusable freezer bags. And not only do they save tons of space when you stack them, they defrost quicker too.
- Take mince out of its bulky plastic container, put it in a freezer bag, then flatten it out so it’s easier to store.
- Freeze leftover wine (it happens) in ice cube trays so you can use them in your cooking.
- Fresh herbs can be frozen in olive oil ready for cooking as and when you need them. Or freeze them in water for adding flavour to soups and stews.
- Divide multipacks of foods like sausages and chicken breasts into smaller portions so you don’t have to defrost and cook the whole pack when you only want a couple of bangers.
- Make larger batches and store individual meal-sized portions in separate bags and containers. That way, if the fusspots in your family don’t want what you’re having, you can still please everyone.
- Remember, everyday essentials like bread and milk can be frozen if you have gaps to fill in your freezer – a full, well-organised freezer is a happy freezer as it works more efficiently, and saves energy too, as less cold air escapes when you open the door to get something out.
Our top 10 hints & tips to prevent food waste
- Keep tabs on the temperature of your fridge – the ideal is between 0°C and 5°C.
- Store bananas separately from other fruit – the ethylene that bananas give off will make other fruit ripen quicker.
- Don’t pile your fridge high. It will stop cool air circulating and things will start to warm up and bacteria will see it as an invitation to move in.
- Line your salad drawer with paper towels to stop things getting soggy. Our Fruit & Vegetable Cushion is a good call too.
- Some people swear by wrapping veg like celery and broccoli in foil to keep it crisp.
- Don’t keep mushrooms in the fridge as they get too wet, and nobody wants slimy fungi. Keep them in a cool, dry place in a brown paper bag.
- Apparently, the best way to store onions is in tights. Pop them in one at a time, tie a knot between each one and hang them up in a dry, dark place.
- Don’t be a slave to best-before dates. They’re usually just a recommendation on how long your food will be at its best. Use your common sense and employ the look and sniff test. Use-by dates are another matter – always err on the side of caution when it comes to things like meat, dairy and fish. Food poisoning is nobody’s idea of a good time.
- Wrap cheese in porous paper. Parchment paper works well as the cheese can still breathe. Don’t use cling film unless you fancy a sweaty brie.
- Cut the roots off root vegetables – they nick all the nutrients, causing your veg to dry out quicker.
You can find lots more ideas to help you cut down on food waste and plenty more ways to spend smart and live well here.