This month it emerged that in the UK, a staggering eight billion pounds worth of food goes to waste, which equates to 6.7 million tonnes or a third of our total purchases. Those are scary stats that are echoed in many other countries around the world. This effects us two ways. Firstly, with food prices rising dramatically at the moment, it’s a very good idea to start looking at whether we can be more efficient with what we eat, thus wasting less and saving money. Secondly, all that wasted food typically ends up on landfills thus producing the greenhouse gas methane, on top of all the damage the excess packaging and transporting causes. It’s with all this in mind that I’ve compiled an introductory list of habits you can develop in your life that will help you to stop wasting food so as to save money and be environmentally friendly.
- Eat out less
Eating out can be great but there are so many issues. Firstly, there is the quality. If you want good, healthy food it will cost you more but if you want cheap and cheerful then you are sacrificing your health. Also you rarely have any real choice on portion sizes so you tend to come away from a meal having wasted a lot. If you eat at home you have control over what exactly you get and how much of it you eat. Just because wasted food isn’t going in your bin doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for it.
- Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach
Imagine going into a shop full of food when you haven’t eaten. Not a good combination. All those temptations, all that tasty food. You may find yourself buying loads only to get home, fill yourself up and have lots left over. Make it easier on yourself by eating beforehand.
- Write a shopping list
If you go into a supermarket without a clear plan of what you want to buy then you often end up randomly browsing around picking up food you wouldn’t necessarily want/need. Do your research beforehand so you know what’s missing from your fridge, how much bread and milk you really have, what supplies you need for your lunch, etc.
- Shop more often and buy less
Due to time constraints and the chore of going to the market, most of us do our shopping once or twice a week and buy as much food as we think we will need. The problem is you don’t really know what you are going to be doing or how you are going to be feeling in several days time. Often I will buy something with the intention of eating it later on in the week and then my schedule changes and it gets wasted. Ideally, you want to go daily and buy just the food you need for your meals that day.
- Buy only what you will definitely eat
This might seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often people buy food and then never bother to eat it despite it being right in front of them in the fridge. You know what your eating habits are, you know what you really like and don’t like. As part of my health drive I used to buy salad like lettuce and cucumber but when it mattered I simply did not bother preparing it so it inevitably went to waste. It did not fit my eating habits.
- Use your freezer
Almost any food can be frozen so take advantage of that fact. Food can arguably be stored in a freezer indefinitely with negligible loss in taste or quality, so If you think you not going to eat something before it runs out of date freeze it! Just be sure to regularly review what you have in there because it’s very easy to forget what is stored in it.
- Set a budget
If you set out how much money you are going to spend per week you are more likely to buy stuff you need and will definitely eat. You don’t want to buy any food without a plan or abudget and find that by Friday you’ve no money left to buy your dinner. The best approach is to take out some money beforehand and then leave your card at home. This forces you to carefully weigh up the price of everything you buy.