10 tips to reduce food waste & save money.
According to the Love Food Hate Waste website, almost 50% of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year in the UK, and more than half of this is food and drink we could have eaten.
Knowing my ‘food waste’ report would say ‘could do better’, I decided to investigate this topic further and see what I could do to reduce waste and save money.
Are you throwing away food unnecessarily?
If you don’t know the difference between ‘best before’, ‘use by’, ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ then you could be throwing away your food unnecessarily every week, not to mention your hard-earned cash.
Understanding date labels.
Use by. These dates refer to safety. Perishable goods such as meat, dairy, fish and chilled meals are usually given a use by date. Even if these products look and smell fine, you shouldn’t risk consuming them after their use by date.
Sell by / Display until. You can ignore these dates because they are for the benefit of retailers and their staff, not the consumer. When products reach their sell by/ display until dates they should be removed from the shelves by the retailer.
Best before. This date refers to food quality, not food safety. You can safely eat these foods after the best before date but you may notice a loss in taste or texture. Foods given best before dates include: cereal; pasta; tinned food; frozen meals. Use smell, taste and appearance to judge whether they are worth keeping. The only exception to the ‘best before’ rule is eggs. If you cook eggs thoroughly you can eat them one or two days after their best before date. Beyond this date there is a health risk due to salmonella.
10 tips to reduce food waste and save money.
1. Check your dates.
When you buy perishable goods in the supermarket, look for the ones on the shelf that have the longest use by date, (If the shelf stackers have been doing their job properly, the ones with the longest use by dates will be at the back).
Likewise, when you get back home, make sure you know which foods will go out of date first and plan your meals accordingly.
2. Buy short-dated and beyond best before foods.
As I’ve already explained, it’s usually safe to eat foods after their best before dates. It’s also legal to sell this type of item. In fact, there are significant savings to be made if you buy short-dated and ‘beyond best before date’ foods.
Some local shops and market stores offer short-dated and ‘beyond best before date’ items for sale at discounted prices. Alternatively, you can buy them from Approved food, the largest online retailer of short-dated and residual stock food and drinks. They charge £5.99 to deliver shopping up to a weight of 25kg in England, Wales and parts of Scotland, so it’s worth buying in bulk.
Approved Food can save you more than 70% off your weekly grocery shop. We sell many major brands and anything ‘de-Identified’ is normally from one of the major supermarkets. Approved Food can offer fantastic value that no supermarket can ever compete with.
Examples of savings include: Cadbury creme eggs 4 for £1.00 (saves £1.40); Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger beer 2 for £1.50 (saves £1.50); and 40 Typhoo tea bags for 59p, (saving 89p).
3. Freeze it.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to freeze food on the day of purchase. You can freeze it right up until the use by date. Once it has defrosted, use it within 24 hours.
Did you know you can freeze almost anything, including: milk; bananas (remove skin first); potatoes and root vegetables (blanch first); herbs; chillies; grapes.
Handy tip: Keep your loaf of sliced bread in the freezer. It doesn’t take long to defrost bread so remove slices from the freezer when you need them.
4. Use what’s left in your cupboards.
Have you ever watched Ready, Steady, Cook? It’s amazing what the celebrity chefs can whip up using a few simple ingredients found in someone’s fridge or kitchen cupboard. Why not do the same at home? Instead of wasting food, make meals using the leftovers in your fridge and cupboards.
5. Cook once, eat twice.
You can save time, money and energy by batch cooking. Simply cook once but make enough food for two meals, one to eat and one to freeze for another time.
6. Get your portions right.
I don’t know about you, but I always end up making enough rice and spaghetti to feed a small village. By using the correct portions, you can reduce costs and your waistline.
7. Plan your meals.
If you plan your meals for the week or the month you can reduce waste by making use of ingredients you already have and only buying the food you need. Make sure you plan your meals so you use the items with the shortest ‘use by’ dates first. If you don’t fancy making your own menu planner, there are plenty of free meal planning resources available online. Try these:
- The Complete Menu Plans Collection on Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert Forum.
- The Love Food Hate Waste Two Week Menu.
8. Make a shopping list.
In one of my earlier posts (here), I admitted to being a ‘listaholic.’ Unfortunately, I’m not as disciplined when it comes to writing the most important list of all, the Shopping List.
Making a shopping list is a great way to avoid waste and save money. Checking through your cupboards not only helps you to make a note of things you need, it also stops you buying items you already have.
It’s a good idea to keep a shopping list in your kitchen, so you can note down items you need when they come to mind or when you run out. This is much more effective than writing your list just before you go shopping, because you are more likely to forget something.
9. Pick the best time to shop.
Most supermarkets have set times for marking down and discounting short-dated stock (look out for yellow stickers and visit the ‘marked down’ sections in stores). If you choose your shopping time wisely, products could be marked down by 75% or more. Although times may vary, supermarkets tend to have three main markdowns/reductions during the day: 25% (as early as 8am in some supermarkets), 50% (4-5pm) and 75+% (7-9pm).
If you spot short-dated or damaged items whilst you are shopping, staff and managers can usually mark down at their discretion so it’s always worth asking.
10. Store your food correctly.
You can keep your food fresher for longer by storing it correctly. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place, apples and other fruit in the fridge and bread in a cupboard or bread bin.
Find out more.
If you want to know more about reducing food waste, why not visit the Love Food, Hate Waste: HERE.
Love food Hate Waste is a registered charity whose aim is to:
Raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help us take action. It shows that by doing some easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which will ultimately benefit our purses and the environment too.
There are even more facts and figures about food waste on the WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) website (HERE). WRAP is a charity that works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.
Over to you.
How many of these tips do you follow to reduce food waste? Do you have any tips to share? Are you going to give any of these tips a try? As always, I’d love to hear from you.
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