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How to save on food: make the most of it and throw away less

Put a stop to wasting food! Change the way you see food, make better use of it and "recycle" it as much as possible. Learn to stretch your food budget with IKEA and avoid throwing away leftovers!

How to save on food: make the most of it and throw away less
How to save on food: make the most of it and throw away less

Sometimes, the food in the fridge expires because you buy too much or due to not organising your meals as well as you could. Other times, you might cook too much and because you don't want to eat the same thing, you throw it away. This has to change. It's time people learnt that you can give a new life to leftovers and that there are tricks to avoid wasting food. Changing this behaviour will be a good way to save at home, but also to create a more sustainable world and reduce the waste and rubbish generated. So, start right now with some of these tips for taking advantage of leftovers and saving on food.

1. Store food in airtight containers and glass jars

Properly storing food is essential to keeping it in the best conditions for as long as possible. Always make sure that jars and containers are tightly closed to prevent air or moisture from getting inside, thus keeping food in the perfect conditions.

Where possible, consider opting for glass containers over plastic ones. Why?

  • They are more environmentally friendly
  • They are easier to clean so you won't waste as much water
  • Odours permeate them to a lesser extent
  • They last longer because they do not lose shape or wear as much as plastic ones
  • Food tastes better when you keep it in glass. Try it out!

2. Save on food: freeze leftovers and even ingredients!

When people cook a lot of food, they usually freeze it for several days and even weeks. But, what about the different ingredients in many of those foods?

Plenty of foods can be frozen and you can just remove them when you need them for a recipe. This way, they won't go off in the fridge and end up in the rubbish bin.

For example, you can freeze peppers, onions and garlic that have been washed and chopped in an airtight bag or container, just waiting for you to take out the amount you need to cook.

The same goes for aromatic herbs such as parsley and coriander and larger foods such as pumpkin, and even avocado! A trick for avocados: to freeze them, make a sort of guacamole (in other words, mash it) and pour on some lemon juice. Then, put it in a container with its stone, which also helps reduce oxidation. Then it's ready to eat whenever you want!

3. Make homemade jams and pickles

Another way to preserve fruits and other perishable foods is to turn them into a long-term recipe. For fruits, you can make jams; while with greens and some vegetables, you can choose to pickle them.

To do this, it is as simple as taking a green or vegetable, adding one part vinegar, two parts sugar and three parts water. Put them in a jar with an airtight lid and leave them for a minimum of two hours to start taking on the flavour. You can start using them from then up to a few weeks later for both snacking and different types of recipes.

4. Reinvent recipes with leftovers: save on food

You have a little bit of leftover rice from one dish, meat from another and vegetables from another. Why throw it away, even if it's just a little bit of everything? Before heading to the rubbish bin, think about whether you can store those cooked leftovers and reinvent them at dinner time or the next day.

Our grandmothers always used to make the most out of the same cooking several times: making "ropa vieja" ("old clothes", made with shredded beef and rice), adding noodles to the leftover soup, making croquettes… and so many more meals!

Almost everything can be reinvented, you just need some imagination and the desire to be up to the task!

5. Label with dates to avoid throwing away expired food

Many times you might open the freezer drawer or pantry and think: "how long ago did I put that there?" Before risking it, people often choose to throw it away.

Obviously, you cannot know when food will go off; however, being clear about the date on which you store it will give you a more accurate idea of whether it will be in good conditions and what you should use first or save for later. It allows you to prioritise what you eat according to the date and have better control of the food you have at home.

6. Take advantage of foods that are already chopped

It is so typical to open the fridge and see that neglected, dried-up lemon wedge... You reach out, pick it up and it goes straight to the rubbish bin! Why? Even this can be used!

You can:

  • Remove the lemon peel and freeze it for later use in some recipes — both savoury and sweet.
  • Use the peel as a natural air freshener for the kitchen, placing it in strategic areas.
  • Prepare a jug of drinking water with lemon, which provides potassium and vitamin C, among other things.
  • Prepare a scrumptious guacamole and add a squirt of that lemon wedge so that it does not turn brown.
  • Use special food covers for foods that you chop, so they won't dry so fast and you won't be tempted to throw it away at the first change.

Taking advantage of the food you buy is your responsibility and with these tips, you no longer have an excuse! If you've found these tips interesting and want to find out more, this link shows you everything you need to know about recycling and sustainability at home.

We are delighted to see our customers use our products creatively. Why not try being creative too? But do remember, any modifications or changes that you make to IKEA products prevent them from being resold or used for their original use, and so voiding IKEA product warranties and your right of return.