5 Tips to Make Your Food Last

Ensuring your household food supply lasts as long as possible has multiple benefits – not only will saving food cut down on shopping trips and help your wallet, it will also and turn the heat down on climate change and make sure there’s enough food to feed those in need. Here are some easy ways to save food at home:

1. Set your refrigerator and freezer to the right temperature.

Your refrigerator’s temperature should ideally be set at or below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C). The back of your fridge will always be colder than the refrigerator door, so put items like milk towards the back and condiments like mayonnaise in the door. Your freezer should be at 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C). This will ensure fewer bacteria on your food, helping perishable items last as long as possible. It will also run more efficiently when full.  You may be surprised by just how many foods you can freeze!

Frozen raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries with dry ice
Thermometer at 41 degrees celsius

2. Know the difference between “use by” and “best before” date labels.

If you have boxed foods in your cupboards and the “best before” date has passed, don’t throw it out. These dates simply mean the food may not be at peak freshness but are most often still fine to eat, so use your senses to see if it looks, smells, and tastes okay. “Use by” date labels typically appear on perishable items such as dairy products, meat and fish. These dates are there for your safety, so follow guidelines. For more on deciphering date labels, check out Too Good for the Bin’s handy guide.

Seven brown, speckled eggs in a beige egg carton
Wheel of cheese with wedge taken out on slice of brown bread

3. Repurpose less-than-fresh foods.

Brown bananas? They taste great in banana bread. Soft strawberries? Turn into a jam or make a smoothie. Courgette a bit too ripe? Throw into a vegetable soup or whip up some courgette bread. If you’ve overstocked on fresh produce that is nearing its end, get creative with your cooking and freeze dishes so you can enjoy foods with “fresh” ingredients later on. And if your bread tends to dry our before reaching the end of the loaf, here’s 9 ways to use it up.

Sliced baguette stacked
Homemade croutons on a baking sheet next to salad

4. Familiarize yourself with good substitutes.

Apple or white grape juice can substitute for white wine in recipes, so think about how juice you need to use up can be used in a pasta sauce. A lemon that’s started to sit too long can be juiced and mixed with milk to make buttermilk for pancakes. Now’s a great time to get creative with your pantry. Here’s a list of food substitutes that can help you get started.

Mixing in silver bowl
Stack of crepes on plate

5. Save your scraps.

Vegetable scraps plus some water and seasoning turn into vegetable stock, which can be used to make risotto, soups and more. You can also use scraps to grow your own vegetables, so consider keeping those avocado pits, green onion ends and celery bits to start your own indoor garden. This website has some tips on how to grow your own foods from scraps.

Soup in cast iron pot
Vegetable soup in bowls

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