Store your ingredients in the proper place to extend the shelf life and preserve quality. Keep root vegetables and onions in a cool, dark place. Leafy green vegetables, apples and grapes in the fridge between 1c-4c. Bread will become dry if stored in the fridge, however, if you plan on using it just for toast, it will certainly extend its life. Opened jars are best kept in the fridge.
Before you start cooking, consider the amount of ingredients you really need to use. An average portion size for uncooked rice is between 80-90g per person, and 80-100g dried pasta per person. Cooking a larger amount than needed of these basic ingredients can be costly and wasteful. If you intentionally cook more than needed so you can save some for another time, make sure you plan when you are going to use it- and stick to it!
Treat "best before" dates on food labelling as guidelines and not rules. Imagine that your food doesn’t have packaging or a use-by date. Use your senses to determine if it is edible and of course, use your common sense. If a vegetable appears a little limp, it can be chopped up and used in a cooked dish, but if there is visible mould or an odour, it shouldn’t be eaten for the purpose of food safety.
Have a selection of food storage containers and labels on hand for storing leftovers. This will maximise the space in your fridge / freezer and allow you to recognise what is in each container. Keep leftovers of sauces in glass jars in the fridge, again to make it easy to recognise and locate, and keep them fresher for longer.
Rotate the items around in your fridge, freezer and cupboards to ensure that everything gets used before it passes its best quality and taste. This also reminds you of what you have available before you go shopping, so you can create meals around these products.
Make an informal list of the food you throw away, so you can recognise any patterns. Throwing away half a loaf of bread? Think about how better to store it and use it up. Throwing away that leftover pasta sauce you made last week? Remember to add leftovers to your meal plan. Throwing away an unopened bag of spinach? Base your shopping list around what you’re actually going to cook that week.
Get creative with your leftover ingredients and cooked foods. Reducing waste and saving money on food bills doesn’t have to be a struggle, there is a world of new recipes and meals available when you think outside of the box - just have fun with it.