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Quick tips to cut back on food waste

Given the cost of food, it's important to avoid throwing out items unnecessarily.

Here are 4 ways you can cut back on waste in the kitchen:

1. Understand food labels

A best-before date on a food package does not mean you should throw it out after that date has passed.

Unlike an expiry date, which means the food should not be consumed after that day, best-before dates are about freshness, quality and how long the item should last unopened. But, if stored properly, food may be perfectly edible beyond the best-before date on the label.

In fact, some stores offer deals on products that are approaching their best-before dates.

2. Schedule a regular pantry purge

No matter how big or small your kitchen is, you likely have a few dark corners of your pantry where items get pushed to the back and forgotten about. It's a good idea to regularly sort through your cupboards to see what you have on hand.

When you do stock up on pantry staples, make sure you move anything you already have on the shelves to the front, so you use up those items first.

3. Whip up meals using what's in your fridge

Not sure what to make for lunch or dinner? Before you head out to the store, take a look in the fridge and start by using up food you already have.

Maybe you can make a soup or veggie stir fry with those loose carrots, celery stalks and lonely zucchini. Or, chop up that leftover chicken breast into a chicken salad sandwich or use it as a topping for a pita pizza.

Looking for more ideas? Look up websites and apps where you can enter the names of ingredients you already have and get recommendations for recipes to make.

4. Pack or freeze leftovers

Making big batches of food is a great way to save money, particularly if you buy large-sized packages of food for bulk-rate savings.

Eat up what you can over the next day or two for lunches or an easy, heat-and-eat dinner. Whatever's left after that, freeze in individual containers for a quick homemade meal instead of making something new.

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