Your kitchen cupboards are full to brimming, but instead of the pasta you need right now, there are three half-empty packets of rice. And that yoghurt that was on sale is taking up half the fridge, but nobody wants to eat it.

There are many reasons why we often have too much of one food and not enough of another. But have no fear – a new German initiative, “Zu gut fuer die Tonne” (“Too good for the bin”), has come up with three foolproof tips on preventing food waste.

1. Proper planning

It helps to keep on top of what you have in the kitchen, so make a weekly plan of what you need. Are you expecting visitors? Planning on eating out? Are there leftovers to cook with? As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have basic foods like milk, pasta, rice, flour, potatoes, onions, tomato puree, oil, spices and mustard in the kitchen.

Eggs belong in the fridge, along with cheese, milk, yoghurt, butter and margarine. If you have supplies of spinach, broccoli, fish and bread in your freezer, there’s no need to get anything fresh from the supermarket.

food waste prevention

Keep yoghurt covered in the fridge.

2. Proper storage

One big problem is having to throw away packaged food that has gone bad not long after it’s been opened. Yoghurt attracts bacteria, for example, so it should be covered with cling film for storage.

Unused canned food should be transferred into a glass or plastic container, not left in the can. And preserves and frozen food should be packaged with the date written on the container, so you know what has to be eaten next.

3. Proper use of leftovers

There’s very often some food left over after cooking, and it’s a pity to throw it away. Think creatively: for example, leftover vegetables can be thrown into a pan with eggs to make an omelette; old bread tastes great when turned into a baked dessert such as bread and butter pudding; and leftover fruit can be stewed, or pureed with yoghurt to make a tasty smoothie. – dpa