According to the Food Standards Agency, in the UK we threw away over 7 million tonnes of still edible food last year and about half of it came from homes, not shops and restaurants. It is such a shocking figure, especially when you think that so many people are going hungry and relying on food banks. It’s also expensive. The estimated cost of those 7 million tonnes is £13bn and the average cost per household is £470. Cutting back on food waste, and your food bills as a result, is easier than you think. Here are five easy ways to do it…
1. Plan your meals in advance: Create a simple meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner and use it to create your shopping list. Before you plan, check what you have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards that might need eating and use these as the basis for dishes. In the long run, this will save you time as well as money and it might even make for some more creative meals.
2. Don’t buy more than you need: You have your shopping list but the supermarkets can still tempt you with two-for-one deals, money off coupons, or multi-buy offers. Try and resist them at all costs. If you can’t, try to make sure it’s for non-perishables and only for food you are likely to use.
3. Know what food needs to be eaten when: Try to keep on top of what food is about to hit it’s use by date or it’s best before date. Put foods with shorter expiration dates towards the front of the shelves as they are more likely to be eaten and don’t throw out food just because it’s hit the best before date – this doesn’t mean you can’t eat it, just that it might not be as good as it once was.
4. Freeze what you don’t eat: You can freeze more than you might think – at least that’s what I’m discovering, including eggs, milk and cheese. If you’ve bought too much or meal plans change, before you think ,”that was a waste” think, “can I freeze it?”. Google will no doubt tell you but check out Love Food, Hate Waste as a starting point.
5. Get creative in the kitchen: Don’t throw food away because you don’t know what to do with it. Think about using every piece of the food – make stock from meat bones or vegetable peelings, for example, or smoothies from yoghurts and fruit that are due to expire. Look out new recipes and experiment with ingredients. You never know what you will come up with.
If all your careful planning doesn’t work, remember, there are people out there who are in need of food you might not be going to eat. Look locally for food banks and ways you can donate food – it could really help someone in need.
There are lots of other ways to save food and lots of places you can find information. Like I said, it doesn’t take much, and it can make a huge difference to the environment and your monthly bills. Do you feel you waste too much or do you have tips for not being wasteful?