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How to cut down on food waste

These top tips will benefit both your bank balance and the environment

by Chloe Best

Billions of pounds worth of food goes to waste each year in the UK, with the amount of unnecessary waste often peaking ahead of the annual summer holidays. New research commissioned by Sainsbury's has revealed that the average British household throws away £9.82 worth of edible food before leaving for a holiday, with a third binning £20 or more of produce such as milk, bread and fresh fruit.

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However with a few simple storage tips and savvy shopping in the lead up to your holiday, you can easily avoid wasting precious food and money, and help the environment to boot. Read on for the supermarket's top tips for cutting down on food waste before your summer holiday (or all year round)…

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Avoid food waste with these simple tips

1. Wait for food to cool properly before freezing. Freezing food before it has cooled will raise the temperature of the freezer and cause other foods to start to defrost.

2. Wrap foods well to prevent 'freezer burn' that dehydrates food. To avoid this, opt for proper food bags - squeeze out all the air, seal and label with a permanent pen, adding the date as well as what it is. 

3. Planning and preparing meals ahead of holidays will help to cut down waste when you leave. You can even prepare extra meals to freeze so that you have tasty, nutritious meals to enjoy on your return.

4. Blanch or steam fresh vegetables then cool them quickly in ice before freezing to save the flavour and texture

5. You can freeze pretty much anything, even wine. To freeze, pour the wine into an ice cube tray or zip lock bag. Milk is one of the most wasted foods pre-holiday, but can easily be frozen to use for that essential English cup of tea on your return; fresh milk can be frozen for up to six weeks and opened for up to four.

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6. Leave as little air as possible in the packages and containers to ensure it is sealed properly. Always label packages with the name of the food and date it was frozen, for ease when you get back from holiday.

7. Soft herbs like basil, mint and parsley don't hold up well frozen, so chop and mix them with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray.

8. Place frozen fruit into a freezer bag with a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt, ready to pop into the blender for a delicious smoothie.

9. Bananas can be frozen with their skins on to save you having to prepare them pre-freeze. They are then perfect when added to smoothies or milkshakes on your return.

10. Sharing is caring – when going away you may find that friends, family and neighbours are looking for just the ingredient that you are disposing of so always check with those nearby. If you have one in your area, a community fridge is the ideal way to ensure that your waste food goes to other who will benefit greatly from it.

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