5 little wins to save money and reduce food waste

Martin Lewis
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What To Do
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Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis says: “Throwing food away is the purest waste of money possible. I’ve been banging on about how to beat it for years, so it’s wonderful to see the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. "So what’s the secret to stop throwing food away and save us money?

1. Get familiar with your fridge and friendly with your freezer

Understanding food dates and what the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels really mean is key to making the most of your fridge and freezer. Just by opening the fridge and checking the ‘use by’ dates on what’s inside, you can begin saving money. Meat, fish and ready meals are often the most expensive things we buy – regularly checking the dates on perishables in your fridge can help save them from the bin. Move recently bought items into the freezer if you don’t think you’ll have time to eat them or cook them soon. Dairy products are often forgotten at the back of the fridge. Why not grate odd bits of cheddar and mix with breadcrumbs for a savoury topping, or stir into mashed potatoes? You can use up your yogurts in fruit smoothies or as delicious toppings on breakfast cereals.
When you get home with your shopping, transfer as much as you can straight into the freezer. If you have large packets of chicken pieces or fish, divide them up using freezer bags and freeze individual portions.

2. Store cupboard savvy

Try and keep your store cupboard and freezer well-stocked with a variety of canned, dried and frozen goods, rice, pulses, pastas and sauces that you know you, your partner and your family love to eat. With these you can always rustle up a decent meal or create delicious dinner from leftovers.

3. Getting your portions right

Day after day we serve up basic staples like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, and quite often what we can't eat ends up going straight in the bin. Are you getting your portions right? Use our portion calculator as a handy way to measure just the right amount. For instance, a mug full of rice will serve four adults.

4. Lovely leftovers

Being crafty with your food is the clever way to save money – and it really boils down to thinking before you throw. With a bit of preparation, your leftovers can create some delicious meals, and they don’t have to be second best.

It’s amazing how many meals you can get from one chicken. If you enjoy a roast on Sunday, the remains of the joint can make a great curry or a delicious risotto later in the week there may even be enough for a sandwich or two. With a little time, the carcass can also be boiled up for stock and soups. Sunday roast is the perfect time to do it, when you might have a bit more time. Keep the stock in the fridge or freezer for when you need it.

If you have some dinner left in the pan, put it in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer as a ‘ready meal’ for one. Smaller amounts can be pureed up as baby food or served as a kid’s portion for lunch the next day.

The last dregs of wine or beer can be frozen in ice cube trays and popped out into stews and casseroles when cooking. Cut the bruises off old apples and toss into the pan with your sausages. Don’t throw out those black bananas – mash them up and add cream for a super-quick pudding everyone will love.

5. Planning your meals

Meal planning is one of the most effective ways you can save on your food bills. Start by checking your fridge, freezer and store cupboard and ask yourself what you really need. Then, before you go shopping, think carefully about what you're going to need for the week and write a list. That way you won't shop for things you already have.

Get your partner, friends or the kids to help – ask them to share their favourite meals and what they'd like to have that week. Then you can work out a meal plan for the week, and make sure you have everything you need.

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