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Your A to Z guide to make food go further

This A to Z guide is full of quick tips and brilliant tricks to make your food last longer, reduce your food waste and save you money.

A

  • Apples - best kept in the fridge in the bag you buy them in. Remove any bad ones as they will spoil the rest because bad apples contain ethylene - a gas which makes fruit ripen and rot more quickly.
  • Asparagus - store asparagus, spring onions or celery in a jar in the fridge with an inch or so of water to stop it from drying out and wilting. Remember to change the water frequently.

B

  • Bananas - keep them away from other fruit as they will make them ripen and rot more quickly. Don’t keep them in the fridge. Use overripe bananas to make banana bread. You can also freeze them to make ice cream or smoothies.
  • Best before dates - learn more about best before dates.
  • Biscuits - revive biscuits that have gone soft by putting them into a recently used oven. Heat from the oven will remove any moisture and once they’ve been taken out to cool your biscuits will be crisp again. They won’t need long - keep checking so they don’t burn. Obviously this trick won’t work with chocolate biscuits but try it on crackers, breadsticks, cereal, crisps and poppadoms. Store in airtight tubs.
  • Blueberries - store in the fridge in the original packaging. If they need using up freeze on a tray and bag up to throw into a smoothie or warm in a pan to make a delicious topping for yoghurt or ice cream. Just add a pinch of sugar, a drop of vanilla extract, lemon or lime zest if you have some and thicken with a little cornflour mixed with water.
  • Bread - bread stays fresher in the bag than in a bread bin. If you’re freezing a loaf, shake the bag before freezing to separate the slices so you can remove a few at a time when you need them. Pitta, crumpets, bagels and rolls can all be frozen too. To freshen up stale bread, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds or re-crisp crusty bread in the oven for a few minutes. Stale slices can also be used to make breadcrumbs or croutons for soup and salads.
  • Broccoli - stalks taste great too - you may want to peel them. Cut them lengthways and cook with the rest or set aside to use in a soup. Keep broccoli in its original packaging and store in the fridge.
  • Brussels sprouts - taste great sliced in a stir fry. Store fresh sprouts in the fridge in their original packaging to keep them fresh for longer.

C

  • Carrots - best stored in the fridge. Baking a carrot cake is a really easy way to use them up if you have too many.
  • Cauliflower - delicious roasted. Drizzle with oil and add your favourite herbs and spices. Keep raw cauliflower in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
  • Celery - store celery, spring onions or asparagus in a jar in the fridge with an inch or so of water to stop it from drying out and wilting. Remember to change the water frequently. Got some to use up? Try chopping with onions and adding to Bolognese or grating into a fish pie.
  • Cereal - seal with a bag clip or use an airtight container to keep it fresh. See biscuits for tips on reviving your cereal.
  • Cheese - lasts longer if you store it in the fridge in a re-sealable pack, foil or air-tight tub.
  • Chillies - bought a pack but only need one? De-seed the rest and chop finely with some garlic, spread out on a baking sheet and freeze. Pour into a bag or tub when frozen, store in the freezer and scoop out when needed.
  • Courgette - spare courgettes? Try making some courgette spaghetti and serve with Bolognese instead of pasta. Or use in a Moussaka instead of aubergine.

E

  • Eggs - eggs need a constant temperature so they’re best stored in the fridge in their original carton.

F

  • Fruit - store fruit in the fridge (except bananas and whole pineapples), in its original packaging. Soft fruits past their best such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and bananas can be used to make smoothies and can be frozen – so you can take them out of the freezer any time you fancy a fruity shake.

G

  • Green beans - if they’re going past their best, drop them into boiling water for a few minutes then cool quickly in a bowl of cold water and add to salads for extra crunch. Store in the fridge.

L

  • Leeks - spare leeks? Try using them in recipes instead of onions. Use in a stir fry or Mediterranean roast vegetable, stew or cauliflower cheese. Just make sure you wash them first – and unlike onions they don’t taste good raw!
  • Lettuce - lettuce and bagged salad lasts longer stored in an air-tight tub lined with wet kitchen roll. This also works with fresh herbs.

M

  • Mango - makes a scrumptious smoothie. Pop in a blender with a glass of milk and two tablespoons of natural yoghurt. Mangoes should be stored in the fridge.
  • Mayonnaise - store in the fridge door. The inner part of the fridge may be too cold, which could cause your mayo to separate and leave oil at the top of the jar.
  • Meat - if you can’t eat it by the use-by date then make sure you freeze it. Use separate bags to freeze in portions. Raw meat that has been frozen by the use by date can be cooked and re-frozen.
  • Milk - can be frozen up to its use-by date for up to a month. It will expand so make sure there’s room in the bottle or it will split. Milk can separate when defrosted but give it a good shake and it should come back together.
  • Mushrooms - Store in a paper bag in the fridge.

O

  • Onions - onions need to breathe so are best stored loose or in a net, not a plastic bag. Keep in a dark, cool, dry area – not the fridge. Store onions away from potatoes as they give off a gas which will spoil the potatoes.

P

  • Pasta - can be frozen if you’ve cooked too much. Adding oil during cooking or afterwards will stop it sticking.
  • Peelings - you can put your fruit and vegetable peelings to good use. Put them in your kerbside recycling food collection if you have one so they can be turned into compost - or compost them at home. Find out more about composting.
  • Peppers - store half a pepper with the stalks and seeds intact and it will last longer. Or slice it and freeze on a tray, then transfer to a freezer bag so you can take out what you need when you want to.
  • Pineapple - pineapples can be kept out of the fridge for a few days after you bring them home but once cut keep in a sealed container in the fridge and eat within three days.
  • Plums - plums are fantastic baked - simply halve and take out the stones, lay in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over some sugar and water and bake for about 20 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Cool and store in the fridge. Serve with yoghurt or cream.
  • Potatoes - best stored in a cool, dark place but not in the fridge. They’re still safe to eat after sprouting - just remove the sprouts - but don’t eat any bits that have gone green. Cooked too much mash? No problem - freeze it or use it to make fish cakes. New potatoes can be used to make potato salad or roasted for another meal.

R

  • Raspberries - keep in the fridge but if you’re not going to use them all, place on a tray in a single layer and freeze. Store in a bag and use in smoothies, in a cake, or add to apple for a crumble.

S

  • Sauces - if you’ve made too much or haven’t used the whole jar, freeze in ice cube trays and use the cubes in recipes to add a hint of flavour. 
  • Spring onions - can be used up in place of onions or leeks. Store in the fridge upright in a little water like asparagus and celery.
  • Sugar - store sugar in an airtight plastic container. Brown sugar becomes hard when it dries out but it is still fine to use - just break it up again.  

T

  • Tomatoes - gone squishy? Chuck into a pasta sauce or soup or add to a chilli or Bolognese.

U

V

  • Vegetables - keep vegetables in the original packaging and store in the fridge (except potatoes or onions). Leftovers can be used to make a tortilla, raw scraps can be used to make homemade stock and older vegetables can be used to make a soup. You don’t need a special soup maker a pan will do. Frozen vegetables are often frozen as soon as they’re picked which means they're just as healthy as fresh vegetables - and you can take them out of the freezer as and when they're needed.

Y

  • Yoghurt - use up plain yoghurt in curries or to make a creamy tomato sauce. Fruity yoghurt can be used on a fruit salad or add a lolly stick and freeze for a cooling dessert.