Now we’re at home protecting ourselves and others from the spread of coronavirus, we’re spending more time in the kitchen than ever. So it's important to make the most of our food, to make it go further. Not only will you be cutting down on unnecessary waste, it will save you money too!
1. EASY FREEZY
Lots of food can be frozen and used at a later date. For example if you grate cheese before you freeze it, it defrosts as good as new and ready to use. Fresh pasta can also be put straight in to the freezer and often doesn’t even need to be defrosted, you can place it straight in to boiling water when you’re whipping up your favourite Italian recipe. Herbs like parsley or coriander can also be frozen. Simply snap off a portion from the freezer and add to your culinary creation for a burst of aromatic flavour. Your freezer is your friend!
- TOP TIP: You can toast bread directly from the freezer.
2. BEST BEFORE
Know the difference between a ‘best-before’ date and ‘use by’ date. ‘Best before’ dates are about quality - this means food is safe to eat after the date but the texture and flavour might not be quite as good… but often it tastes just as delicious. ‘Use-by’ dates are different - you’ll see them on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or salads. The product cannot be eaten after this date for your safety - however a lot of food can be frozen before the ‘use-by’ date and defrosted later.
3. MAKE IT FUN
If your partner or kids don’t cook, now is the perfect time to teach them some of your recipes! Cooking is a vital life skill and kids love to learn, especially if you are teaching them how to make their favourite food like macaroni cheese, pizza or chicken curry. Cakes are a great way to introduce kids to the kitchen and there are lots of fab recipes at the Great British Bake Off website. Please note, if your children are young, make sure you supervise them in the kitchen.
There is lots of useful information on the Wirral Infobank website, including Wirral Food Hub which has already fed thousands of vulnerable Wirral residents. There are also details about other food charities and organisations that can deliver food straight to your front door.
4. HELLO FRESH
We all hate it when our fruit goes off but there are lots of ways to make it last longer. Store apples in the fridge in their original packaging - they will last longer than if left out in a fruit bowl. If your grapes are looking a little wrinkly, pop them in to the freezer, they make a ‘grape’ alternative to ice-cubes! Lemon slices also make great ice-cubes. You can also wake up your wilted veg in a bowl of cold water – they will be good as new in less than half an hour.
- TOP TIP: If your strawberries are entering the mushy twilight of their lives, don’t bin them, blend them. They’re perfect for slushies, smoothies and syrups.
5. JAZZ IT UP
You can transform basic ingredients in to delicious dishes with a bit of creativity. Instant noodles are cheap and tasty, but if you add some leftover vegetables, spring onions and soy sauce, it’s transformed in to a dish from your favourite Chinese takeaway! Or if you’ve got leftover potato salad, give it a new lease of life by roasting it in your oven for 25 minutes. Yum.
- TOP TIP: If your bananas have gone brown, use them in a cake, or pop them in the freezer to mash into instant banana ice cream.
6. RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
There are many foodie websites but our favourite is the unofficial Masterchef of budget-cooking, Jack Monroe. Jack's website is full of delicious recipes that you can create at home for unbelievably low prices. Our current favourite is a cherry and white chocolate bake which you can make yourself for just 21 pence per portion!
7. WE’LL MEAT AGAIN
It’s easy to scrape leftovers in to the bin after your Sunday dinner but if you have leftover beef, pork or lamb, freeze it to use at a later date in a curry, hotpot or for sandwiches. A chicken carcass can also be put to good use… boil the bones in water and then measure out in to pint portions and freeze. This makes delicious chicken stock to be used at a later date in soups or stews.
- TOP TIP: Leftover chicken and bacon can be chopped in to small pieces and mixed with mayonnaise to make a tasty sandwich filling.
8. A FRIDGE TOO FAR
Some things go off quicker if kept in the fridge, for example bread goes stale quicker and bananas go black. Instead keep them both in a cool, dark, dry place like a cupboard for them to last longer. Onions, potatoes and cucumbers are also best stored in a cupboard instead of your fridge.
- TOP TIP: Keep tomatoes in your fridge but take them out and store them at room temperature 24 hours before eating them – they taste better.
9. INCREDIBLE BULK
Next time you make a family favourite, cook it in bulk! It’s easy to double the quantities and make a big portion, half for tonight and half to enjoy at a later date. It means you don’t have to cook twice and saves on washing too! For example, whip up your favourite spaghetti bolognaise but freeze half of the sauce to have with a jacket potato next week. You can also bulk up meals cheaply by adding lentils or a tin of baked beans for example.
- TOP TIP: plastic takeaway cartons are ideal for separating portions in the freezer.
10. TREAT YOURSELF!
You’ve done more cooking than Nigella, Jamie and Delia combined in the past few weeks, so it’s time to give yourself a rest and get some food delivered. This website has a list of local businesses where you can order food and drink - there’s everything from burgers, curries and pizzas to shops you can order beers and gin. Not only do you get delicious meals or products brought directly to your doorstep but you are also helping support local businesses.
For more tips and recipes about food, visit the Love Food, Hate Waste website.