Cleaning out the fridge of food that’s gone off is a thankless chore that can leave you feeling guilty about how much you’ve wasted.
But an author has revealed there is a way to reduce the amount of food waste by showing how you can use up scraps and leftovers.
Ruth O’Rourke-Jones, of the new book My Zero-Waste Kitchen says with a few nifty tricks, you can avoid wasting the money you’ve spent on your groceries.
From blending wilted greens into smoothies and using lettuce heads to grow new plants, to using a ripe banana peel to keep meat moist in the oven, these are the cleverest kitchen hacks to try next time you clear out.
Compost nearly everything
Many kitchens have a compost bin where you can dump organic kitchen waste and then use it as natural fertiliser for your garden. But while you might know that you can compost vegetable peelings, fruit waste and teabags, there are other items that you never thought to throw in your compost bin, says Apartment Therapy, a lifestyle and interior design community.
They include cupcake liners, tissues and napkins, wine, beer, chewing gum and even cardboard.
Crushed eggshells can be added as it can provide the compost with useful minerals.
There are guides online revealing all the items you can and can’t compost.
But throwing away waste in the normal bin should be a last resort only if you can’t compost, recycle or re-use.
Food waste will break down at landfill sites, but the waste will get compressed and produce harmful methane because there won’t be any air pockets.
A compost bin in the kitchen, however, will contain air pockets and won’t produce methane so it’s better for the environment.
Reuse scraps and leftovers
Most of us will throw out the head of lettuce after tearing off all the leaves but you can use the head to grow a whole new plant.
Simply plant it in soil and water it and you should have a whole new head of lettuce.
Banana peels can be added to a baking tray in the oven to help keep meat moist while it’s cooking.
Carrot leaves and leftover parsley stalks can be used to make a sauce, or pesto.
Freeze what you can
Most of us know to save leftovers by freezing them for a quick and easy midweek dinner.
But there are plenty of other ingredients you can freeze that might otherwise get wasted.
Leftover cooking wine can be frozen in ice cube trays to use next time you make a dish, while root vegetables that are starting to go off can also be frozen as they can be made into soups.
If you know you’re not going to be able to use food before it goes off, the freezer can act as a pause button and eliminate waste.
Organise your fridge
Where you store your food in the fridge can also lengthen its lifespan and prevent waste.
You should never put milk in the door of the fridge as it’s the warmest part and it will go off quicker.
Condiments should go on the fridge door, while dairy products should go on the top shelf as that’s the coolest part where the temperature is most stable.
Meat should go on the middle shelf, while salad and vegetables should go in the salad drawers.