Come the new year and you may find that your fridge is still jam-packed. Do your bit for the planet and your purse by following these simple, yet effective, leftover laws:
1) Map your meals. Check in with family members at the beginning of each week to find out how much food you need to buy for everyone. This easy-to-do tick list will not only prevent food waste, but also save you money in the long run. If you do still have any fresh produce left then freeze it, and make a plan for it the following week. It’s also useful to make sure your cupboards are stocked with essentials such a tinned tomatoes, beans, pulses and pasta. These types of food have a long shelf-life and will always be on standby to eat alongside any leftover meat or fresh vegetables.
2) Invest in sensible storage. Food will have a longer shelf-life if it’s stored in the right way. Always stock leftovers in sealable containers and make sure your fridge and freezers are running at the correct temperatures. A clean fridge will also help to ensure your food stays fresh – the BerryBreeze Fridge Freshener £39, sanitises the air in your fridge to eliminate bacteria and neutralise ethylene, the gas that speeds up the ripening and rotting of foods.
3) Know your labels. Knowing the difference on all your food labels can make a difference to your eating and throwing away habits. ‘Best before’ refers to quality, not safety, so baked goods can still be consumed after this date but might not be at their best. ‘Use by’ refers to safety, not quality, so produce shouldn’t be consumed after the given date, even if it looks and smells ok.
4) Plan your portions. As well as planning your meals, it’s also wise to plan your portions. There are various pieces of cooking equipment, such as pasta-measuring tools, which indicate how much spaghetti you need in order to serve a certain amount of people. For vegetables it helps to count out, for example calculate the exact number of potatoes you need instead of just estimating.
5) Try a new recipe. An abundance of leftover food is a great excuse to test out your culinary skills. Head Chef at Champneys, John Woodward, offers us a delicious and hearty recipe that is hassle-free and packs a high nutritional punch.
Smoked salmon, cottage cheese and crab egg-white omelette
4 egg whites per person
200g smoked salmon
200g cottage cheese
100g crabmeat (can be substituted for prawns)
1 tbsp fresh dill
For more examples, head over to lovefoodhatewaste.com who have a whole section on how to plan your portions
Photograph: Sandra Bielmeier/Westend61/Corbis