The 15 most wasted foods in the country - and how to avoid wasting them!

We're a nation of food wasters! Every day we throw away millions of tons worth of perfectly good food. An AO.com report has revealed that the UK wastes around 15 million tonnes of food every year - this is the equivalent of throwing away one fridge load of food each month and is a whopping £700 worth of food wasted every year.

15. Oil and fat

We're a nation of food wasters! Every day we throw away millions of tons worth of perfectly good food. An AO.com report has revealed that the UK wastes around 15 million tonnes of food every year - this is the equivalent of throwing away one fridge load of food each month and is a whopping £700 worth of food wasted every year.

We're a nation of food wasters! Every day we throw away millions of tons worth of perfectly good food.

An AO.com report has revealed that the UK wastes around 15 million tonnes of food every year - this is the equivalent of throwing away one fridge load of food each month and is a whopping £700 worth of food wasted every year.

That shocking number may not mean much to our day-to-day life but when you start to think about how much food waste your family is responsible for - and how much money we spend of food that is ultimately wasted - we think it's time to look at how we manage our food waste.

But what food can we stop throwing away? Here are the most wasted foods in the UK - in order from lowest to highest - and our helpful suggestions for how to avoid wasting these common foods. You'll save a fortune!

15. Oil and fat

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

Oils and fats actually have a shorter shelf life than you might think. Proper storage is essential with oils as direct sunlight can dramatically effect their quality.

How to avoid waste: Store in a cool dry place - avoid the fridge as this will make the oil cloudy. To save money buy a low calorie spray fat, they last longer and are better for you.

14. Processed fruits

14. Processed fruits

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

You probably have a few tins in your cupboard right now, hidden at the back. When it comes to cleaning them out you'll probably be surprised to see their expiration date is sooner than you think.

How to avoid waste: Keep the tins in clear view so they don't get forgotten about.

13. Confectionery and snacks

13. Confectionery and snacks

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

We were surprised by this one too - who throws away sweets?!

How to avoid waste: The best way to avoid wasted confectionery is to only buy what you think you'll actually need - and avoid tempting multi-buys. Christmas and Halloween are key times to overbuy so make sure you keep the waste in mind.

12. Condiments, sauces, herbs and spices

12. Condiments, sauces, herbs and spices

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

That little dollop of ketchup at the bottom of the bottle, that last bit of mustard and that remaining mayo that you can quite get out, all these bits of condiments thrown away add up to a massive yearly waste.

How to avoid waste: Add a little drop of water to the jar/bottle, close the lid and swill around for a few seconds. The remaining sauce will be easily pourable so you can use all of it up. Herbs can also be frozen if you think they're not going to last.

11. Staple foods

11. Staple foods

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Main reason for waste: Cooked, prepared or served too much.

Staple foods, such as fresh potatoes, pasta and rice, are also regularly thrown away by UK households as we cook more than we actually need.

How to avoid waste: Measure out your portions carefully for each serving. You can freeze cooked potatoes, pasta and rice rather than throwing them away.

10. Cakes and desserts

10. Cakes and desserts

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

Hmmm, we don't seem to have a problem with cake being wasted in our house but it seems there are some people out there who actually throw cake away!

How to avoid waste: If you really don't think you can manage any more cake, you can freeze uniced slices. You could also use slightly old sponge to make cake pops (opens in new tab).

9. Processed vegetables and salads

9. Processed vegetables and salads

Main reason for waste: Not used in time/Cooked, prepared or served too much.

There's two main reasons why processed vegetables and salads are being wasted - but both are easily avoidable.

How to avoid waste: Portion control is key. Plan and measure out exactly how much vegetables you need to buy and serve.

8. Meat and fish

8. Meat and fish

Main reason for waste: Not used in time/Cooked, prepared or served too much.

We waste 86 million chickens a year! All that lovely meat can be spared!

How to avoid waste: Freeze any meats and fish that you don't think you will use the next few days after buying. Cooked meats can be reused in clever leftover dishes such as our leftover chicken ideas (opens in new tab).

7. Fresh fruit

7. Fresh fruit

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

Fresh fruit has a very short shelf life and shockingly we waste 1.4 million whole bananas a year!

How to avoid waste Just because bananas are ripe, it doesn't mean they should be heading for the bin. Mushy and ripe is exactly how you need bananas for baking as they produce a much moister sponge - try our classic banana bread recipe (opens in new tab). You can also freeze bananas and defrost in the microwave or blend down for a lower-fat ice cream alternative.

6. Eggs

6. Eggs

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

We've all been there. You really fancy an omelette (opens in new tab) only to find the eggs expired weeks ago!

How to avoid waste: Store the eggs in a clear place and keep check of the expiry date. Eggs can sometimes last longer than stated. You can test the freshness by putting it in a tumbler of water, horizontal means it's very fresh, vertical position means it's stale.

5. Dairy

5. Dairy

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

The dreaded sniff test, off milk has got to be one of the worst examples of wasted food.

How to avoid waste: You could try buying smaller cartons of milk or if you find it hard to judge you could buy UHT milk that can be stored in cupboards until you need to use. You can also freeze milk until you need it.

4. Bakery items

4. Bakery items

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

If you've been surprised by mouldy bread when you head to the toaster, you'll know how likely it is.

How to avoid waste: Bread can either be bought in smaller loaves or frozen, in individual slices, until you need it. If you think you're bread might be about to turn you can make some bread and butter pudding (opens in new tab) with it.

3. Meals: home made and pre-prepared

3. Meals: home made and pre-prepared

Main reason for waste: Cooked, prepared or served too much.

Leftovers from prepared meals often head straight to the bin - but you can do some much more with them!

How to avoid waste: Try to keep different components of a meal as separate as possible - pasta, sauce, mashed potatoes...etc - that way you can store the leftovers separately and use them in different ways. See our guide for how to use leftovers. (opens in new tab)

2. Drink

2. Drink

Main reason for waste: Cooked, prepared or served too much.

Juices, smoothies and soft drinks often come as part of a special offer in the supermarkets - but are you actually doing to drink it all within the Best Before Date? Once opened, juices and smoothies have a very short shelf-live.

How to avoid waste: Freeze any juices, smoothies and drinks you don't think are going to be used and turn them into healthy homemade lollies.

1. Fresh vegetables and salads

1. Fresh vegetables and salads

Main reason for waste: Not used in time.

Vegetables just do not last that long. You can prepare them and freeze them but if you want them fresh, you'll have to act quick.

How to avoid waste: When doing a big shop, only buy vegetables for meals for the next few days. Buying fresh vegetables on your 'top-up' shops as and when you need them will dramatically reduce the amount of waste.

Where to next? The 10 most hated foods in the country (opens in new tab)

Foods that are making your hungry (opens in new tab)

Things you didn't know you could freeze (opens in new tab)