Save money and cut down on waste: Tips to make your food go further

Did you know the average family could save a whopping £700 a YEAR, just by throwing away less food? Here's how to reduce, reuse and recycle leftovers - you’ll save yourself hundreds AND help the environment!

According to food waste charity Love Food Hate Waste in the UK alone we throw away 7 million tonnes of edible food every year. That’s £12.5bn worth of edible food- which means we could all save around £200 each if we just wasted less.

Embrace all shapes and sizes

Buying ASDA's wonky veg boxes could save you money

Sounds simple, but buy funny-looking produce!

A lot of fruit and veg is thrown away because their size, shape, or colour don’t quite match what we think they ‘should’ look like. But these items are perfectly good to eat, and buying them helps use food that might otherwise be chucked, as well as saving you money.

If you’re not too bothered by the occasional wonky carrot or curved courgette (they all taste the same, right?!), Asda have recently launched their increasingly popular ‘wonky veg’ boxes across 497 stores.

Containing 5kg of seasonal, edible fruit and veg for just £3.50, buying ‘wonky’ veg works out 30 percent cheaper than normal produce and can feed a family of four for a week.

Like this idea? Celeb chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, from BBC1 series War On Waste, has also set up a petition you can sign too, aiming to get supermarkets to take part-responsibility for food waste and relax their cosmetic standards for produce- which is good for farmers too.

Use other peoples leftovers

Mobile app OLIO allows people to swap food for free

Cooking up a roast for the family? Why buy a bag of potatoes from your local shop if your neighbour is desperately trying to get rid of a bag for free?

New - and free - iOS and Android phone app OLIO is helping people to be savvy about their food, connecting neighbours with each other and with local shops and cafes so surplus food can be shared instead thrown away.

Users simply snap a picture of the items and add them to OLIO for a neighbour to collect from home or an OLIO Drop Box in a local store.

If you're after some food, just log-in and browse through what's available as most stuff is either free or heavily discounted.

Discover local food waste projects…


FoodCycle cook up tasty, nutritious meals from surplus food

Want a free, three-course meal and the opportunity to meet new people? Or have some time for surplus food that you could donate?

FoodCycle is a national charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create high quality, tasty, nutritious meals for the local community, including people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

They basically save edible food from supermarkets and local traders that would otherwise be thrown out, and cook it up. Think ‘Ready Steady Cook’, but on a bigger scale!


Get creative...


FoodCycle turn their surplus food into preserves and use it in doughnuts, then donate the proceeds to other local charities.

So if you've got a tonne of fruit or veg that you just know you won't be able to use before it goes off, don't throw it out.

Instead, get creative - find a simple recipe and turn it into a homemade jam, marmalade or chutney, which cuts down on your food waste and also make perfect thoughtful (and cheap!) gifts for family and friends.

Charities can fundraise by making preserves from suplus fruit and veg

Credit: Acculul8

If making preserves isn't your thing, you can still donate your fruit!

Charitable organisation's like Accumul8 wouldn't be where they are today without surplus food. Accumul8 work with young homeless people, who make, market and sell preserves made from fruit that would have gone to waste, all donated by the local community.

This raises funds to enable young people affected by homelessness learn photography skills, gain employment and housing, and come off benefits.

FoodCycle also make their own preserves from rescued fruit and veg, with all proceeds going to charity.

Learn the tricks of the trade


Ensure your fresh food is stored correctly

Even with thorough meal planning, it's sometimes hard to predict how long fresh food will last for - so it's vital to store it correctly.

Fruit and veg, like carrots, peppers and apples, are best kept in the bag they come in as it keeps it fresher for longer. A shrink-wrapped cucumber for example will last around three times longer than a non-shrink-wrapped one.

Here's some top tips:

  • If you buy a big loaf of bread, why not freeze half so it doesn't go moldy before you get the chance to eat it?

  • If you put paper towels in your veggie drawer, you limit the amount of condensation created, meaning salad etc will stay fresher longer.

  • Store onions, potatoes and garlic inside a cool cupboard, out of sunlight and heat.

  • Washing, peeling and trimming vegetables speeds up the ageing process so don’t do it until you are ready to eat them.

  • Don’t store tomatoes with asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans or lettuce as they give off ethylene that will make those vegetables spoil faster.

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