Make Friends with Your Fridge and Freezer to Cut Down on Food Waste

How much food do you waste? Do you have a mouldy block of cheese hiding in the back of your fridge, or some leftovers that are past their best?

If you regularly leave things in your fridge that end up in the bin, you’re contributing to over 10 million tonnes of food that gets thrown away in the UK every year.

But we get it, food labels can be confusing, and it’s easy to forget what the best before dates, use by dates, and ‘once opened’ instructions actually mean, so rather than play food safety roulette, you throw things in the bin, just in case.

What makes food go off faster?

Running your fridge too warm stops food from staying fresh for very long. The optimum temperature for a fridge is 0-4C. If your fridge is too warm, you might see condensation forming on the inside. This means that the fridge’s gas is turning into liquid, and this can contaminate food.

What could be making your fridge warm unknowingly?

Well if the door is faulty, it could be letting warm air in, and if your fridge is packed to the rafters, it’s harder to keep everything cool. If your fridge is full, try turning the temperature down just by 1C.

What if the fridge is too cold?

You might see ice forming at the back of the fridge if it’s too cold. It can become too cold if it’s empty, so to fix this problem, put a few jugs of water in it to take up some space, or of course, just turn the temperature up a little. Nobody wants a frozen lettuce!

Use your freezer more

Many things are suitable for freezing and this can help you cut down on waste massively. Be sure to always freeze something before its use-by date, however.

Watch your portions

Cooking too much can create a lot of waste, so try your best to stick to the recommended portions. If you do have a lot of leftovers, put them in the freezer then you can whizz up some quick midweek meals when you don’t fancy cooking from scratch.

Donate food to those who need it

It’s amazing how many people throw away perfectly good food. Why not donate it to a local food bank and help people who need it more than you?

Snap a ‘shelfie’

If you love taking photos, snap one of what’s in your fridge before you go shopping then you’ll never end up buying what you don’t need.

Learn the terminology

‘Use by’ means that the product must be used by that date and it’s not safe to eat it after that point. ‘Best before’ refers to quality and taste, so it’s still safe to eat, it might just not taste as good as it would have before the date on the label. But if in doubt, look at the food and smell it - this will usually indicate whether something has gone off or not.

Make a meal plan

Look at what you already have in your fridge and cupboards, and plan a menu for the week ahead which will help you avoid waste. If you have a roast on Sunday, you could plan to use the leftover chicken for a soup or the remaining beef for a stir fry.

Start a compost bag

Most things can be composted, from tea bags to egg shells and vegetable peelings. If you don’t fancy doing that, check to see if your local council offers food waste collections.