FOOD wastage is a big problem and it’s easy to forget what’s lurking at the back of the fridge and end up throwing things away.
Nobody wants to open their fridge and find their fruit and veg has gone mouldy, turned brown, or just tastes off.
Tom Church shares his tips for making your food last longer
And with soaring food bills, it’s even more frustrating when the groceries you’ve bought go off before you’ve had chance to eat them.
But consumer expert Tom Church, co-founder of latestdeals.co.uk, has shared a few simple storage tips that can help your food to last longer and save you hundreds of pounds in the process.
He says: “It’s disappointing when you get some lettuce, bread or fruit out of the fridge, only to realise you can no longer eat it.
“However, with simple preparation tips, you can increase the shelf life of your fridge 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.
Here’s what you need to know:
We’ve all bought a lettuce with the intention of making a salad, and watched it turn brown after a single use.
Tom says breaking the lettuce head into small pieces and washing it can help it to stay fresh.
He added: “Make sure you get all the water off the lettuce after you’ve washed it – you can use a salad spinner or a tea towel.
“Place the lettuce in a glass container with a clean cloth or paper towel and change it out every couple of days.”
This tip could save up to 50p a week on buying a new lettuce – that’s the equivalent of £26 a year.
Fresh strawberries usually last between three and seven days in the fridge, but Tom says his tip can help you double their shelf life.
Tom says you should wash your strawberries with a solution that’s one part white vinegar to three parts water as soon as you’ve bought them.
You should then 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 also be able to eat these strawberries for up to two weeks.”
If you bought one £3 packet of strawberries a week, this top could save you £78 a week.
When we come home from the shop with milk, most of us place the carton in the fridge door without giving it a second thought.
But Tom says this could be the “worst” place to store it.
He added: “The coldest sections of the fridge are always the lower shelves, as the cold air sinks towards the bottom.
“The upper shelves and doors are actually the warmest – so by storing your milk in the bottom drawer or lower shelf, you can slow down the spoiling process.”
If you followed this tip, you could be saving around £14 a year.
Instead of keeping 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,” Tom adds.
“Plus, it will remain humid without becoming soggy.
“Don’t use plastic wrap, as this could actually make cheese go off quicker.”
You could try using parchment or wax paper – and if you really want to invest, you can buy special cheese paper.
Cheese paper isn’t sold in supermarkets and is mostly available from specialist shops.
You can also order it online – a roll of paper from The Cheese Lady will set you back £1.20 plus delivery.
If you bought a block of £3 cheddar once a month, you’d be saving £36 a year.
We’ve all encountered a banana we forgot about, which has turned brown or black.
A bunch of pre-packaged bananas can set you back £1.35, so it’s not an item you want to go to waste.
But you can slow down the ripening process – and Tom says all you need is a bit of tin toil or cling film.
He added: “Get some tin 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 assists with its own ripening as well as that of fruit nearby.”
Separating the bananas from the bunch and wrapping each individual stem will give you the best results, Tom says.
Tom says placing a stick of celery into a bread bag can stop your loaf from going mouldy.
Yes, you read that right.
“It may sound odd, but the bread will absorb the moisture from the celery and, in turn, remain fresh,” Tom says.
“Your loaf won’t become dry and mouldy at the same rate, so your changes of getting a sandwich will increase.”
If you buy a £1.20 loaf of Hovis Soft White Medium once a fortnight after trying this hack, you’d be saving just over £31 a year.
Where can I get help with my food bill?
If you are struggling with your food bill then there are a number of charities and organisations which may be able to help, on top of the providers that offer their own grants.
Hard-up households can grab free cash towards essential living costs, including a £36 voucher for food items.
The extra support comes as part of the government’s Household Support Fund (HSF) initiative.
The current batch of funding will be available until September 30 – but households are being urged to apply for help as soon as possible.
Money is dished out to local councils, which will decide what sort of help to offer in their area and who is eligible.
To find out what support is on offer in your area, speak directly to your local council, or visit its website for more details.
Even if you’re not eligible for help under the Household Support Fund you may be eligible for cash elsewhere to help with the cost of living.
A number of councils have opened up their applications for a discretionary fund to help those on Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and other means-tested benefits. You could get up to £300.
Millions of pensioners are also set to get an extra £300 later on this year. Those on Universal Credit and benefits will also get a one-off payment of £650 to help with the cost of living.
If you are worried about the cost of living or debt, then a number of charities may also be able to offer free advice or help:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060