Cutting Food Waste (and cutting food bills)

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.  
list-1474674_19202. 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.
smoothie 2
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?

12 thoughts on “Cutting Food Waste (and cutting food bills)

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  1. Great tips Emma! For a long time I have done weekly meal plans and then made my shopping list from that. I’ve had far less food waste ever since I’ve been doing this. It’s also a far healthier way to live as your meals are planned and you have all the ingredients and are then less likely to grab something quick, easy and most likely – unhealthy (or opt for takeaway)! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  2. These are very food tips as I feel that I sometimes waste a lot of fresh produce. However I must say that some fresh fruit and vegetables barely last the week, that makes shopping for an entire weekly menu extremely frustrating. I find that I now shop for fresh produce only a few days ahead. #TeamLovinLife

    1. I know what you mean. I tend to do recipes that need fresh fresh food early and ones where I’m throwing everything in a pot later on. If I have to I’ll go back to the store. I am trying to figure out about storing food better. I recently found out bananas give off an enzyme that means food near it decays quicker so now my bananas sit on their own.

  3. Thanks for these practical tips to help reduce food waste. I cook for one, so it can be difficult to use everything up before it goes bad. But, I’m working on being more creative with recipes to use everything I have before buying more food.

    1. Cooking for one is harder and it’s the being creative like you say without getting bored. Freezing portions helps but, again, can make boredom strike. There are apps out there to help you come up with recipes but I haven’t used them to comment. Might be worth a try?

  4. Emma,
    This has been on my mind for quite a while. I’ve been bringing my lunch to work and when I’m out and using reusable cutlery and food storage for quite a while now. Also been using Keep Cups at work at the cafe. My next challenge is food wrapping, I love silicone baking sheets but still can’t get over my addiction to foil, cling wrap and zip lock bags. I’ll keep trying.
    SSG xxx

    1. I know what you mean. Baking and cooking makes using tin foil and cling film feel like a necessity. I have recently bought some reusable covers that I will review if they work. They are stretchy so go over different sized bowls. Thankfully I work from home so don’t have the packed lunch stress.

  5. I really hate food waste and agree with all these tips! I especially find meal planning to help so much.

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