Supermarket visits are no fun anymore.
Where you used to pop in for a ‘top up’, to get a few bits for a Friday night treat, or as fodder for a home gathering, now you’re faced with 2-metre distancing rules, slaloming 20-minute queues, and ‘one in, one out’ in-store policies.
What’s more, once you’re finally inside, you find half of the items on your shopping list are nowhere to be seen.
So, what do you do? Well, one way is to become better at food planning – and learning what not to throw away. (Spoiler: You really shouldn’t be throwing away anything at all.)
Here are our top tips.
How to cut food waste during COVID-19
Store food carefully
Some foods spoil quickly when they are stored at room temperature. Berries, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and fungi, like mushrooms, are some of these. Likewise, if you have opened a food item, always refrigerate it (after cooling) to prevent any nascent enzymatic reactions.
Others, like avocados, bananas, apples, potatoes, should all be stored in the cupboard. Room temperature helps to sustain the ripening speed of these foods; refrigerate and you could prevent them from ripening properly.
Freeze foods when you can
Just don’t freeze any food items that are 90%+ water content. These are things like salad items, celery, tomatoes, lettuce. This is because the water in them turns to ice in the freezer, and this expands the foodstuff. When the item is defrosted, it shrinks… and that’s when you get a floppy cucumber.
Use more perishables which you can
If you’ve just come back from the supermarket with several bags full of fruit and veg but have no plan for how you’re going to use them, you could hit a sticking point come the 3rd or 4th day. By which time, any perishables leftover may well have gone off, or are starting to show signs of deterioration.
To ensure you’re staying healthy and reducing food waste, you’ll want to think about what you can do with all your produce. Work recipes around what you have, using the perishables as your base to use more of them up. Don’t be afraid to freestyle – some of the best recipes are made this way!
For instance, leftover veg or any odds and ends, like stalks and leaves, can be chopped up and added to a homemade stew, soup and even vegetable stock, while fruit can be used in smoothies, or blitzed to make a jam or sweet dip.
And if they just can’t find a place in your meals? Chop up your veg early, parboil and freeze (I do this with my broccoli stalks and cauliflower leaves). Easy-peasy!