At a time with strict social distancing rules in place and many of us spending more time at home, our shopping habits have shifted significantly. Despite this, a recent survey suggests UK citizens have risen to the challenge of lockdown by making food they buy last longer and go further1. In this article, Dietitian Dr. William Cook shares five top tips on keeping food fresh and reducing food waste during lockdown.
Use up your fresh ingredients first
You don’t want any food to go to waste, so use up perishable ingredients before foods with a longer shelf life.
Know what keeps longest
Some fresh foods have a relatively long shelf life. This includes root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions.
Root vegetables are among the fresh foods with the longest shelf life (Image source: Elior UK)
Think about where to store food to keep it fresher for longer
Carefully wash, rinse and drain salad leaves and fresh herbs and spin dry in a salad spinner, place into a suitable plastic storage tray, cover and keep refrigerated. By following this procedure your salads and fresh herbs will last for several more days than if just stored in the fridge un-covered.
It might seem obvious but make sure you aren’t storing things in your fridge that don’t need to be in there. For example, fresh tomatoes, un-peeled onions, un-peeled jacket potatoes, whole butternut squashes don’t need to be stored refrigerated. Removing these items from your fridge and storing them in a cool dark place will free up valuable fridge space for more perishable items.
Declutter your cupboards
If you are stuck at home, take the opportunity to tidy and declutter your kitchen cupboards to free up space for ambient food products. This is a great opportunity to get rid of those unused & unwanted items that end up “living” in your valuable storage space. Remember to re-cycle as many of the items you are discarding as possible.
Useful store cupboard ingredients, other than dried pasta, include:
- Long grain rice
- Couscous / Bulgar wheat
- Curry pastes
- Tinned or powdered coconut milk
- Tinned & dried pulses
- Chopped & Peeled plum tomatoes
- Dried herbs (these could replace fresh if required)
- Tinned fruits in juice
- Ambient pouches or canned tuna
- Tinned sweetcorn
- Frozen fruits
If you do get sick, it is worth having some easy to cook and prepare foods in the house on standby. Canned soups, microwavable rice and frozen ready meals are easy options that you can keep in stock if you don’t have the energy to prepare more complex recipes.
About the author
Dr. William Cook has worked as a dietitian for over fifteen years. He started his career as a clinical dietitian in the NHS before an interest in research led him to undertake a PhD at the University of Cambridge, investigating iron absorption in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
He subsequently worked as a research dietitian both in industry and academia, including research studies conducted in prisons- looking at the effect of nutrition on behaviour, and care homes- investigating malnutrition.
Since 2012 he has moved from the ‘theoretical’ to the ‘practical’ side, working as a Head of Nutrition and Dietetics in food service for Elior UK, where he combines his passions of research, food, nutrition and health to develop and support company-wide activities across all business areas, including healthcare and retail healthcare.
1. WRAP UK Citizen survey (May 2020)
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