I run a cookery school in Newport and I’m passionate about food, but also food waste. I love passing on my knowledge, enthusiasm and inspiration to all, whether beginners with lost culinary mojo or aspiring chefs of all ages. We have to eat, so it’s pointless not enjoying it. It’s also healthier and cheaper to cook fresh food every day (that’s not as hard as it sounds, trust me!..), so I get very annoyed by the amount of decent food that is thrown away by households and supermarkets. In fact 90 million tonnes of food in the EU per annum, and for each household, around £450 p.a.

That is an awful lot of food wastage, don’t you think?

Are you wasteful with food, too much food waste? Do you want to stop throwing away your food and reduce your food wastage? This will, of course, help you be more thrifty with food and save on your weekly food bills? We have some great advice so you never have to throw your food away again.

Householders, I admit, are a small link in the chain, but if you can change your ways, you will make savings. Put that cash to better use, have less food waste, cook more and be aware of a few simple guidelines with my six top tips

Cook larger portions – refrigerate half for the next days dinner or freeze. This saves time and energy. Also, even you must admit that Lasagne and Chilli always taste better the next day! I usually get three different meals out of my Sunday Roast leftovers.

Kick the habit! – Who has a freezer packed with forgotten food? Has it been there 3 months, a year, 2 years, more? Eeeeek! Freezer food quality deteriorates over time, so it’s best eaten within 3 months, so check the labels. Don’t automatically do the weekly “Big Shop”, before you’ve done a treasure hunt in the big cold box.

Best Before dates – not to be confused with “Use By” and good for bargain hunters. These are foods that are long lasting, safe to eat after this date, but may not be at best quality. But supermarkets get rid of them, so they get reduced. I found 8 bottles of very expensive Extra Virgin Olive Oil beyond their best before date, and after a haggle with the manager, I took them all for £1.30 each, saving about £55 off their original price!

Old vegetables – OK they are not pretty, but they taste fine, so don’t chuck them out. Wrinkled tomatoes have more depth and make a great pizza or pasta base when mashed up. Old mushrooms fried till crispy in butter are perfect in rice. If you have sad peppers, then roast them in the oven, de-skin, cover in olive oil for a lovely antipasti. What about the rest though? Simmer in a stock, throw in some broken spaghetti bits, a teaspoon of pesto, and voila! Minestrone for mere pennies…

Buy vegetables whole – Pre-prepared salad goes off well before a whole lettuce. Do you really save time buying ready chopped veg that will start to rot the next day? As soon as fruit and veg are processed, handled, chopped and washed; they begin to decompose. Never mind the overinflated prices that you end up having to pay for them.

BOG Off Bogof’s! – be wary of the ‘free food trap’. The main culprit in UK waste, and likely elsewhere too, is the ‘2-for-1’s’ that encourage overspending. Will you really eat 2 bags of doughnuts? Aren’t those strawberries going to go mouldy by the time you get to box no.2? Only shop for what you truly need = less food waste.

Thanks for listening to my thoughts.

If you have a yearning to cook up something new or increase your cooking confidence, it’s never too late or too early. Take a peek at www.just-cook.com for a fun & friendly hands-on Cookery School based in Newport, Essex. You can contact Maxine through any of these social media; Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or send her an email to info@just- cook.com for foodie queries.