BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 18 Aug '19

Want to go plastic free? These tips can help you extend the life of your food – and save around £470 a year

Huge strides have recently been made in plastic reduction. Waitrose is extending trials of refillable options for products including alcohol, rice and cleaning materials, Morrisons has an initiative to ditch the unnecessary plastic on vegetables and Aldi will soon be trialling loose vegetables.

Almost a third (32%) of us say we’d prefer to use our own containers to buy and refill fresh food from the supermarkets instead of buying pre-packed food. Yet food waste stats show that even with plastic food packaging that can help keep food fresher, we are seeing enormous volumes of food wasted.

Saving food and money

The UK throws away seven billion tonnes of food annually and, on average, around £470 worth of food is wasted per year in each household. According to Recycle Now, half of the total £13 billion cost could be saved if the public were given more information about storing food safely.

Data show that nearly half of us (43%) think food must be frozen on the day of purchase when in fact it can be frozen at any time before the use-by date and be kept frozen for three to six months, suggesting that education could have a huge impact.

Food storage tips

Storage experts have revealed that a few simple tips could have a huge impact on people’s household bills and the environment, ensuring that progress around food waste is made alongside positive steps in reducing plastic packaging.

With correct storage cutting food waste by almost 50%, storage experts at Space Station have put together some useful tips to help consumers keep food fresher for longer – even without plastic packaging.

FRUIT AND VEG

Keeping fruit and vegetables stored too closely together is a common mistake that can lead to food going bad. Build-up of the chemical compound ethylene will cause them to go off; apples, melons, apricots, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, figs and other fruits and vegetables should be kept separate as these produce the most ethylene.

One in two people (52%) would not consider buying frozen fruit or vegetables, so buying loose vegetables fresh then chopping and storing them in an airtight container in the freezer can ensure no food is wasted.

CUCUMBERS

Wash cucumbers straight away and make sure they are thoroughly dry, as excess water will turn them bad. Wrap them in either a tea towel or kitchen roll to prevent sogginess and store in the fridge in a reusable vegetable bag.

CITRUS

Netting for lemons, oranges and limes is very dangerous to sea life and birds so these types of fruits should always be bought loose. They should also be kept in the fridge and. If citrus starts to go on the turn, slicing them up and freezing them will make great ice cubes for drinks.

MEAT AND FISH

More than one in three (38%) believe freezing meat after it has been cooked is dangerous, but this is a myth. Meat and fish can be stored in containers in the freezer, for the two-thirds of us (64%) who don’t want to buy frozen meat, which will save money and food waste. Store all frozen food in containers with labels that clearly state the date the items were frozen, as meat should be eaten within three to six months.

SALAD

For loose leafy salad, wash and dry in a salad spinner then wrap loosely in kitchen paper and store in tupperware to stop the leaves going soggy. Tomatoes and avocados should be stored outside the fridge until ripe.

ONIONS AND POTATOES

Onions, potatoes and shallots should be stored in a cool, dark place to keep them fresh, such as in a wicker basket in a cupboard or a cellar. Avoid storing these products in plastic bags as this encourages spoilage.

A clever hack to keep onions fresh is storing them hung up in an old pair of tights in a cool, dry place. Once cut, onions should be stored in a zip-lock bag in the fridge where they will last for around a week or stored in tupperware and kept in the freezer.

APPLES AND BANANAS

Buy bananas when green and store them away from other fruits in the fruit bowl, as they release a gas that can cause other fruits to go off more quickly. Consider using a banana tree to keep them separate and minimise bruising – or a mug tree can work just as well. Store apples in an uncovered fruit bowl on a worktop and make sure to keep the fruit out of direct sunlight.

HERBS

A great hack for storing fresh basil and herbs is to chop the leaves in a food processor and place into an ice cube tray with a little olive oil and store in the freezer. When basil is needed for a dish, just pop in a ready-made ice cube.