It is estimated that the UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food annually. This usually ends up in landfill that is already overcrowded. Decaying food contributes to the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
The UK has seen the biggest increase in food prices from April to early May 2023. Cereals, bread, milk and butter have nearly doubled in price since the same time last year.
There are tips out there regarding how to cut down on your food bill, but perhaps the biggest saving would be to reduce the waste of food that we are already buying. After all, wasting food is similar to chucking money in the bin and during this cost of living crisis, we need to look after the pennies.
Meat, yoghurt and vegetables are among items that have doubled in price compared to a year ago. Even the cheapest supermarkets have increased their prices by around 20% in the last year. Inflation is predicted to reduce by mid summer which should help the cost of food to fall, but what can be done in the meantime?
Never go to the supermarket without a list AND make sure that you stick to it! Supermarkets are designed to entice the shopper into buying more, which means items go into the basket that are not needed and ultimately get wasted.
Get into the habit of planning out your meals for the week. When doing this, check what stock you already have in your cupboards so that you are not repeat buying for the sake of it.
Steer away from the buy one, get one free or bulk buy offers UNLESS you know that you are going to use them. Bulk buy items may be more suited to dry goods like cereals, breakfast bars, dried fruit and nuts, etc rather than fresh food items.
Make sure that you know where to place certain items in your fridge to avoid cross contamination. Move items closer to their use by date to the front of the shelf. Keep stems of vegetables in water to help them stay fresh and crisp. Soft fruits also benefit from being stored in glass containers. Also, check your fridge temperature. It should be between 0-5C to ensure all items stay fresh.
If fresh food is turning bad – freeze it! Batch cook pasta sauces to freeze, put soft berries in freezer bags to store, freeze slices of bread to toast, etc. When cooking, why not cook an extra few portions and freeze them for another date? Grated cheese is great frozen to use on top of pasta bakes for instance.
Fresh foods turn bad quite quickly so why not try swapping them for frozen or tinned foods? They are just as good for you, if not better, and they are so much cheaper too.
For a consumer, there are a couple of food waste organisations that can be used to share unwanted food items.
Olio app – users download an app and post their unwanted food items to their locality. Local app users can come and collect the unwanted food so that it does not go to waste!
Too Good to Go – this organisation works with the hospitality sector to ensure that none of their food goes to waste. Users download the app that tells them what restaurants in their area offer a bag of food for a highly reduced price – the fun part is that you don’t know what is in the bag until you get it!