7 ways to reduce your family’s food waste

Save money and limit your impact on the environment with these great ways to keep your food fresh, make it last longer, and stretch each shop that little bit further

fruit and veg on a kitchen worktop
(Image credit: Hotpoint)

Did you know that one third of all food we produce for human consumption is either lost or wasted? Not only does this have a huge environmental impact – especially when you consider the water and energy it takes to produce our food – it also could be costing your family as much as £540 per year, the national average food-waste cost.

So, Hotpoint have teamed up with Jamie Oliver to help you cut your food waste by storing your food better and making the most of it, with these simple tips.

1. Meal plan like a pro

Meal planning does not need to be a military operation so step away from the wall charts. A quick ten minutes picking meals at the start of the week (or the day before your weekly shop) will mean you buy less food that is destined for the bin. You can also cut waste by planning meals that use the same ingredients within a couple of days of each other – feta for a Greek salad on Monday will also be a perfect finish to a pasta bake on Wednesday.

2. Store your food properly

Packaged food usually has storage instructions to ensure it meets its best-before date, so always follow them.

  • Tinned produce and dry ingredients love a cool, dry cupboard.
  • Keep flour, cereal, pasta and rice fresh by putting in an airtight container once opened.
  • If freezing, do so on the day of purchase.
  • When storing meat in the fridge, make sure it is tightly packed and on a tray or plate to prevent meat juices dripping onto food below.
  • Keep bananas away from anything you don’t want to ripen too quickly. They give off a chemical called ethylene that encourages ripening (super handy for those under-ripe avocados though!).

3. Upgrade your fridge-freezer

If your fridge-freezer has damaged door seals or is old, it may not get down to a low temperature efficiently. This wastes a lot of energy (adding to your electricity bill) but also means your food will be going off quicker. A new fridge-freezer might be on the cards, so look for one with features that help keep for your food fresh for longer such as the Hotpoint range with Day 1 technology. 

Most modern fridges come with a salad crisper – a special drawer that will banish limp lettuce and keep your tomatoes firm – but keep an eye out for models that circulate air evenly and have good temperature recovery to limit the impact of opening the door. Hotpoint has gone one step further to make sure your food is stored in the best possible conditions. Their Multipower Inverter Compressor rapidly corrects temperature within the fridge after door opening for long-lasting food freshness, while Freeze Care technology reduces freezer burns, so frozen food retains its quality, taste and texture for longer.

open Hotpoint Fridge freezer with Day 1 technology

Hotpoint's Active Oxygen function circulates air to reduce bacterial growth and keep your food fresh for longer. See the Hotpoint Range at AO.com

(Image credit: Hotpoint)

4. Learn to understand food labelling

Fresher food with Hotpoint at AO.com

Make AO.com your first stop if you are looking to banish food waste with a new fridge-freezer. With over 600 fridge-freezers with an energy rating of A+ or above, plus next day delivery, you can get an efficient new appliance before that bag of rocket in your fridge has chance to wilt.

For the ultimate in freshness, try a Hotpoint fridge-freezer with Day 1 technology which keeps bacteria at bay and quickly recovers the temperature after the door is opened. The Active Oxygen setting circulates air around the fridge, helping keep your food fresh for longer. All Hotpoint Day 1 model are also frost free, so you never have to waste an afternoon defrosting the freezer again.

Food that has passed its use-by date is not safe for consumption, but many of us are overly-cautious when it comes to best-before dates. A best-before date means just that – the food will taste best if you eat it before the date on the packaging. If food has passed its best-before date that doesn't mean it must go straight into the bin. Use your common sense and give it a sniff, because it might be fine to eat.

5. Give 'old' fruit and veg a second chance

Fruit and veg that has passed its best-before date, still has a lot to offer. In most cases, enjoying them cooked will combat the change in texture you might have noticed if you ate them raw, so try making vegetables into a tasty soup. Or have a go at baking muffins – a quick web search will throw up recipes to turn pretty much any fruit or vegetable into a tasty breakfast treat.

The Government’s food waste authority WRAP estimates that nearly 40% of bagged salad is thrown away, making it one of the most widely-wasted products. But there is so much you can do with these lovely leaves before they become inedible.

  • Treat them as you would chard or spinach and wilt into a pasta sauce or sauté with butter.
  • Blend them with your choice of nuts, oil and hard cheese to make a pesto-like sauce.
  • Freeze before they go soggy and add a handful to fruit smoothies.

6. Love your leftovers

Follow quantities in recipes to minimise food waste, but if you do cook too much store the leftovers in an airtight container and pop in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch. A lot of meals freeze well too so you can enjoy them up to a month later. In a busy household, batch cooking on a day where you have time can create enough meals in the fridge and freezer to see you through the week. 

Jamie Oliver recommends splitting your leftovers into portions, and labelling them with the date and contents before putting them in your freezer. You had better stock up on those leak-proof containers!

7. Make the most of your freezer

It’s not just your home-cooked chilli, lasagne and curries, or supermarket ready meals that can be frozen for later. Freezing fresh food is the best way to save anything you won’t get chance to eat before it goes off.

  • Brown bananas might not make a great snack but their natural sugars make them perfect for baking and puddings. Pop them in the freezer then defrost and bake or use frozen chunks in a smoothie or blended with a bit of honey to make what is commonly known as ‘nice cream’.
  • Bought too many berries? Wash, dry and store in the freezer in bags or tubs. A handful in a smoothie or a pot of yoghurt is a quick and healthy breakfast.
  • Fresh herbs often go to waste so wash and chop, then divide between ice cube trays. Cover with oil and freeze for flavoured oils whenever you need them. You can also freeze chopped frozen herbs in containers to add to casseroles.
  • Fish and meat freezes best on the day of purchase. Prevent freezer burn by making sure it is tightly wrapped in clingfilm and/or freezer bags.
  • Bread freezes well and can be toasted from frozen.

Visit Jamie Oliver's website for even more tips on combatting food waste.

More about AO.com

AO.com offers next day delivery on a wide range of products and holds a 5* rating on Trust Pilot from over 100,000 reviewers. If you are looking to upgrade your fridge-freezer, AO.com stocks Hotpoint’s range of fridges and fridge-freezers with Day 1 technology, so you can keep your fresh food fresh for longer, cut waste and make fewer trips to the supermarket.

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