8 ways to make your food work harder
a month ago
At times like these its important that we reduce our food waste and make the most of what we have. To help, we've put together these eight tips for making your food work harder during these uncertain times, and beyond. And if you have any ideas you'd like to share with us, give us a tag on any of our social media channels - we'd love to hear from you!
- Build a fridge and kitchen cupboard audit into your weekly routine
Make it a habit to go through your fridge and kitchen cupboards twice a week, taking note of what you have and any items that are soon to go off (see point 6!). Try pairing the task with other weekly chores so it’s easier to remember.
Many items can be easily incorporated into meals you’re already planning: the last few tablespoons of yoghurt can be whizzed into a smoothie, while a wilting pepper can be roasted, chopped and tossed into a salad.
- Make a meal plan - but keep it flexible
By making a weekly meal plan - incorporating foods you already have - you’ll only buy as much of each ingredient as you need.
Be sure to keep your meal plan flexible; some products aren’t as readily available as normal. Get creative and opt for recipes where it doesn’t matter if you have to swap a few components - think curries, stews and hearty salads.
- Embrace the opportunity to experiment
Right now, we’re hit by two key constraints that are forcing many of us to work with what we have: 1) We should only be shopping when we absolutely have to (which means no nipping out for ‘a few extra bits’ to complete a recipe) and 2) Some shops have less variety on the shelves.
The best cuisines have always been born from asking the question ‘What have I got to hand?’ Embrace this chance to ask that question and explore new ways to work with the ingredients you’ve got.
- Check your fridge temperature
Did you know the average UK fridge is set to seven degrees? That’s at least two degrees warmer than it should be. Milk stored at this temperature can spoil after just four hours, as opposed to the five days it should last.
It’s not just about adjusting your settings. Fridges easily heat up because of things we do without even thinking: placing that leftover bolognese on the shelves when it’s still steaming hot, or accidentally leaving the door open when you grab that extra beer. Being mindful to untrain ourselves from these small habits can make a big difference to how long food lasts.
- But remember: there’s such a thing as TOO cold
Tropical and subtropical foods such as melons, aubergine, bananas and peppers should be kept at room temperature.
- Don’t treat expiration dates as gospel
Most of these dates are indicators of quality, not safety. If an item is past its best before date but still looks and smells fine, it’s probably okay to eat. Most of the time, you can trust your senses, but with harder-to-tell items (such as eggs) there are clever ways to make the call. Try popping your eggs in a bowl of water - as long as they don’t float to the top, they’re safe to consume.
- Use the whole thing
Too often, we throw away perfectly edible parts of produce just because it’s what we’ve always done. Did you know that broccoli stalks make a tasty addition to a stir fry, or that the green stalks of strawberries are a great source of fibre?
- Read up on what can be frozen
Dairy products can be frozen and defrosted, and will remain edible. Just make your life a bit easier by grating hard cheese before you freeze it, and be sure to give defrosted skimmed milk a good shake before using it. Eggs are another surprising item that copes well in the freezer. Just beat them until blended, and pour them into freezer containers, labelling the containers with how many eggs are in each.