As we see the 5p plastic bag charge come into force in England this month we are more and more becoming aware of the countries problem of waste, specifically food waste!

We throw away roughly 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year costing £12.5billion a year, the most common items being fruit and veg, bakery items, dairy and meat. This costs the average household £470 a year, think about what you and your housemates could do with that money! However other than the cost to our pockets it also has a big impact on the environment, so much so that if every person did not throw away the food that could be eaten it would be equivalent to taking 1 in 4 cars off of the road; so be sure to follow these few steps to cut food waste and save money whilst you’re at it.

Get friendly with your freezer:
This may sound silly to the most of you but you’ll be shocked by how many people end up throwing away foods that the shelf life of could have been massively increased just by popping in the freezer. Almost all foods can be stored in the freezer, the best ones being meats and bakery items such as bread; this massively increases its shelf life leading to being used at any other opportunity. As a student the best thing to do would be freeze meat in portions that you are going to use it in, as when you get it out to defrost you’ll have to defrost it all if it’s still in one portion, this can lead to just as much waste before. Bread is also just as easy to freeze, it defrosts in a matter of minutes ready to be used, or it can be toasted directly from frozen!

Store cupboard ingredients:
Make sure you know your cupboard ingredients, don’t buy new tins and other items with long shelf life if you already have them in, let alone it being a waste of money you will end up wasting the items that are getting pushed to the back! Other than these make sure you use your store cupboard to the best of your ability such as using up spare fresh ingredients by bulking out with store cupboard ingredients like rice or pasta.

Best before or use by:
Now this one is very important, some people may not realise the difference between these two simple packaging terms but it may save you a lot of money in the long term! When a food item has a use by date that means it can be harmful to the consumer if they eat this item after this date. However if a food item has a best before date then it just means that it can be consumed after this date (as long as it’s not mouldy) it just might not be at the best it could be. You will find use by dates on items on foods like meats and dairy but will find best before dates on items such as fruit and veg, so do not be afraid to consume these items a few days after their best before date!

Carb portion control:
This is a big tip for people that tend to overestimate on their pasta or rice portions, other than this possible leading to weight gain, this tends to cause a lot of waste due to people not eating the full meal. The two best ways to combat this are either measuring out your portions in order to only cook as much as you will eat, or if you do over estimate then don’t dish out the full meal and save it for the next day and carbs like pasta and rice are lovely in salads for lunch.

Plan your shop:
This may sound obvious but when you go to the shop don’t buy extra of items just because they are on offer, this may result in you throwing them away eventually. So make sure you only buy exactly what you will need.

What to do when the waste cannot be eaten:
There is plenty of food waste or packaging waste that cannot be eaten such as bones and egg shells. However these items can be recycled so make sure that this is what happens as this will save money and the environment. There are many different ways you can recycle these goods such as composting or through recycling centres.