FOOD waste is a huge problem and it’s easy to forget what’s lurking in the back of the fridge and end up throwing things out.
No one wants to open their refrigerator and find that their fruits and vegetables have gone moldy, turned brown, or just plain taste bad.
And with sky-high food bills, it’s even more frustrating when the food you’ve bought runs out before you’ve had a chance to eat it.
But consumer expert Tom Church, co-founder of lastoffers.eshas shared some simple storage tips that can help your food last longer and save you hundreds of pounds in the process.
He says: “It’s disappointing when you take some lettuce, bread or fruit out of the fridge and realize you can’t eat it anymore.
“However, with simple prep tips, you can increase the shelf life of your refrigerator staples, and in some cases even double it.”
He believes his tips can help you save a whopping £182 a year on your food bill.
This is what you need to know:
We’ve all bought lettuce with the intention of making a salad and watched it turn brown after just one use.
Tom says breaking the head of lettuce into small pieces and washing it can help keep it fresh.
He added: “Make sure you get all the water out of the lettuce after you wash it; you can use a salad spinner or a dish towel.
“Place the lettuce in a glass container with a clean cloth or paper towel and change it every other day.”
This tip could save up to 50 pence a week on the purchase of new lettuce, which works out to £26 a year.
Fresh strawberries usually last between three and seven days in the fridge, but Tom says his advice can help you double their shelf life.
Tom says you should wash your strawberries with a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water as soon as you’ve bought them.
Then you should dry them and place them in a container with a paper towel.
Tom added: “Not only will this remove any pesticide residue, but you’ll be able to eat these strawberries for up to two weeks.”
If you bought a £3 a week pack of strawberries, this top could save you £78 a week.
When we get home from the store with milk, most of us stick the carton in the refrigerator door without a second thought.
But Tom says this might be the “worst” place to keep it.
He added: “The coldest sections of the fridge are always the bottom shelves, as cold air sinks to the bottom.
“The top shelves and doors are actually the warmest, so by storing milk in the bottom drawer or on the bottom shelf, you can slow down the spoilage process.”
If you followed this advice, you could be saving around £14 a year.
Instead of keeping the cheese in its original packaging, Tom says you should consider increasing its shelf life by weeks and wrapping it in parchment paper.
“This method works because the cheese will receive airflow without being subject to dehydration,” adds Tom.
“Plus, it will stay moist without getting soggy.
“Don’t use plastic wrap, as this could make the cheese fall apart faster.”
You can try using parchment or wax paper, and if you really want to invest, you can buy special cheese paper.
Cheese paper is not sold in supermarkets and is mainly available in specialized stores.
You can also order it online: a roll of toilet paper the cheese lady it will cost you £1.20 plus delivery.
If you bought a £3 block of cheddar cheese once a month, you’d be saving £36 a year.
We have all come across a banana that we forgot about, that has turned brown or black.
A bunch of prepackaged bananas can set you back £1.35, so not an item you want to waste.
But it can slow down the ripening process, and Tom says all you need is some tin foil or cling film.
He added: “Get some aluminum foil or cling film and wrap it around the stems.
“By wrapping these black or brown sections of the fruit, you will reduce the release of ethylene gas, which is emitted from bananas and helps with their own ripening, as well as that of nearby fruit.”
Separating the bananas from the bunch and wrapping each individual stem will give you the best results, says Tom.
Tom says that placing a stick of celery in a bag of bread can prevent it from going moldy.
Yes, you read it right.
“It may sound strange, but the bread will absorb the moisture from the celery and in turn stay fresh,” says Tom.
“Your bread won’t get dry and moldy at the same rate, so your chances of getting a sandwich will increase.”
If you buy a loaf of Hovis Soft White Medium for £1.20 once a fortnight after trying this trick, you’d be saving just over £31 a year.
Where can I get help with my food bill?
If you’re having trouble with your food bill, there are a number of charities and organizations that can help you, as well as vendors who offer their own grants.
Struggling households can get free cash for basic living costs, including a £36 food voucher.
Additional support comes as part of the government’s Home Support Fund (HSF) initiative.
The current batch of funds will be available until September 30, but households are urged to apply as soon as possible.
The money is given to local councils, who will decide what kind of aid to offer in their area and who is eligible.
To find out what support is offered in your area, speak directly to your local council or visit their website for more details.
Even if you are not eligible for help under the Household Support Fund, you may be eligible to receive cash elsewhere to help with the cost of living.
Several councils have opened their applications for a discretionary fund to help those with Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and other means-tested benefits. You could get up to €300.
Millions of retirees will also receive an extra £300 later this year. Those with Universal Credit and benefits will also receive a one-time payment of £650 to help with the cost of living.
If you’re worried about the cost of living or debt, several charities can also offer free advice or help:
- National Debt – 0808 808 4000
- Change of Step – 0800 138 1111
- Citizen Service – 0808 800 9060