In the UK, 4.2 million tonnes of avoidable food and drink is wasted each year, worth £12.5 billion. In Devon, food waste makes up approximately 30% of black bin or bag rubbish.

Fresh vegetables and salads are wasted the most, closely followed by bakery items, meals (homemade and pre-prepared), dairy and eggs. But, help is at hand with Recycle Devon’s top five tips on how to prevent food waste and become ‘guilt’ free:

1. Get familiar with your fridge and friendly with your freezer Understanding what the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels really mean is key to making the most of your fridge and freezer. Meat, fish and ready meals are often the most expensive things we buy – regularly checking the dates on perishables can help save them from the bin. Move recently bought items into the freezer if you won’t have time to eat or cook them. Dairy products are often forgotten about. Why not grate odd bits of cheddar and mix with breadcrumbs, or stir into mashed potatoes? You can use yoghurts in smoothies or as toppings on breakfast cereals. When you get home with your shopping, transfer as much as you can into the freezer.

2. Store cupboard savvy Try and keep your store cupboard and freezer well-stocked with a variety of canned, dried and frozen goods, rice, pulses, pasta and sauces that you know you and your family love to eat. With these, you can always rustle up a decent meal, or create a delicious dinner from leftovers.

3. Getting your portions right Day after day, we serve up basic staples like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, and quite often what we can't eat ends up going straight in the bin. Are you getting your portions right? Use the portion planner (www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portion-planner) as a way to measure just the right amount.

4. Lovely leftovers Being crafty with your food is a clever way to save money – think before you throw. If you enjoy a roast on Sunday, the remains of the joint can make a great curry or a delicious risotto; there may even be enough for a sandwich or two. The carcass can be boiled up for stock and soups. If you have some dinner left in the pan, put it in a freezer bag and pop in the freezer as a ‘ready meal’ for one. Cut the bruises off old apples and toss into the pan with your sausages. Don’t throw out those black bananas – mash them up and add cream for a quick pudding.

5. Planning your meals Meal planning is one of the most effective ways you can save on your food bills. Start by checking your fridge, freezer and store cupboard and ask yourself what you really need. Then, before you go shopping, write a list. Ask your family to share their favourite meals and what they'd like to have. Then you can work out a plan for the week.

For more tasty tips or advice on leftover recipes and food-saving gadgets visit www.recycledevon.org/love-food-hate-waste

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