A FRIDGE TOO FAR
Store food better so you waste less and save cash, writes NADA FARHOUD
MOULDY cheese, weeksold ham, or a plate of leftovers from your Sunday roast dinner.
Chances are most of what you will find in the recesses of your fridge will end up in the bin.
Last year we threw away 10.2 million tons of food. Of this, five million tons was still edible.
That is the equivalent of £494m worth of food each week, according to research conducted by recipe box company Gousto for Stop Food Waste Day.
Confusing food labels such as “once opened” instructions, are inconsistent and unclear as to whether they are recommendations on food safety or quality – and contribute to food waste.
But also simply turning down the temperature in your fridge can help to keep food fresher.
Three-quarters of us run our fridges too warm – a move which could prevent up to 4.2 million of tonnes from being dumped and save each family a small fortune.
So what temperature should your fridge be set at and which shelves are best for what foods?
Read are guide on how to cut down on food waste. It is better for the environment and your pocket.
WHAT IS THE CORRECT TEMPERATURE FOR A FRIDGE?
EXPERTS say the optimum overall temperature is between 0˚C and 4˚C. Aside from food going off before its best-before date, there are several warning signs that your fridge is at the wrong temperature.
Modern appliances have a built-in thermometer with some activating an alarm if the temperature drops below or above the optimum range.
Condensation on the inside walls means it is too warm as the fridge’s gas is being turned into liquid, which may contaminate food on the lower shelves. If it is too cold, ice maybe visible at the back.
This could also be caused by a faulty door allowing warm air from the outside into the fridge.
DON’T OVERFILL THE FRIDGE
THE more stuffed your fridge shelves become, the harder it is to keep cool. Experts recommend turning down the thermostat by one degree if it is packed.
But an empty fridge is not efficient either. To prevent the fridge getting too cold, place a couple of jugs of water on a shelf to fill up space. Or you can turn the temperature setting up a notch. Ideally, a fridge should be around three-quarters full to allow cold air to circulate.
EMBRACE YOUR FREEZER
MANY of the items in our fridges will be suitable for home freezing, which can extend their shelf life massively. It does not have to be on the day of purchase either, just as long as it is before the use-by date.
AVOID cooking too much by sticking to recommended serving sizes listed on packaging. If you do over-cook – freeze the remaining leftovers for another day.
GIVE AWAY, DON’T THROW AWAY
IF THERE is perfectly good food at risk of the bin, why not ask your neighbour if they would like it or donate it to a foodbank? OLIO is also a free app which connects neighbours with each other and to their local shops so that surplus food can be shared around.
It is now being used by 900,000 people, growing from a local initiative in North London in 2015 to a company with a presence in 46 countries.
TAKE A SHELFIE
PHOTOGRAPHING the contents of your fridge before you leave the house could save the average UK household £235 a year, Sainsbury’s say by preventing over-buying.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
NEARLY 20% of us are still confused by best-before and use-by dates.
The use-by date is about safety and the most important to remember. Foods can be eaten (and most can be frozen) up until the use-by date, but not after.
Best-before refers to the quality and taste.
The food is most likely safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best in terms of flavour and texture.
You cannot beat looking, smelling, and tasting for a reliable indicator of how fresh the food is.
DEDICATE 10 minutes of your week to checking what is in the fridge and cupboards, and creating a meal plan for the week ahead.
Choose meals that use similar ingredients to avoid waste.
For example, make a chicken and vegetable soup on Monday and use the leftover vegetables to beef up your shepherd’s pie later on in the week.
IF YOU have a garden, why not get a compost bag for any leftovers and peelings, or check with your council if they offer a food waste disposal service.
Everything from egg shells to scraps left on your plate will then be disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion.
ICE cube trays are not just for water. Leftover red wine can be frozen and used to add to a beef stew or spaghetti bolognese.
You can even freeze milk in an ice cube tray and pop one in your tea. Ideal for if you ever run out.
The more full your fridge is, the harder it is to keep cool
Don’t throw away perfectly edible food