Do you ever find yourself opening the fridge to be met with an awful smell? Or do you open your cupboards to find sprouting potatoes and black bananas? Figures from the government’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) have found that the average UK family throws away around £680 of food a year. That’s nearly £2 every day, for a whole year.
When put into context, £680 can really go a long way, and could be saved by simply making sure we buy the food we need, rather than buying too much and having to throw it away. An initiative linked to WRAP, ‘Love food hate waste’, aims to help individuals in saving money and reducing the amount of food they throw away.
Emma Marsh, head of Love food hate waste, describes how being more educated about food and food use could help combat this waste. She describes a “lack of confidence in planning, cooking and storing food,” as one of the main reasons why people end up throwing so much away. She argues that by having all foods at our disposal in shops there is a “lack of value based on food itself,” causing individuals to be more flippant with throwing food away.
She goes on to say how easy it can be to reduce food waste and save money each week. “Simple changes to the way we buy, store and cook food can help combat food waste. For example, planning meals in advance and writing shopping lists. Storing food correctly such as keeping fruit in the fridge and freezing food before it reaches its use-by and making the most of leftovers can also help.”
Writing shopping lists, and planning what to buy around what meals you will be having, is a key way of avoiding buying too much and consequently wasting food. Not only will you end up just buying what you need and so throw less away, but you will also save a great deal of money on spontaneous buys that look like a good idea at the time, but end up getting forgotten about in the back of the fridge.
Keeping a few ‘essentials’ in the cupboards that don’t go off, such as pasta, tinned foods, couscous and sauces can mean that you have the ingredients to create a delicious meal, without having to go out and buy more. The great bonus is that these foods will usually last around a year before going past their sell by date.
Freezing foods on the day of purchase is another great way of preventing food waste. It can also be a great way of saving money, as foods reduced because of their sell by date can be purchased cheaply and then kept fresh by freezing. The freezer is also another perfect place to keep a few of the essentials ready for whenever you may need them.
Keeping a keen eye on portion sizes is another key way of preventing food waste and making the most of what you buy.
Roughly a quarter of a mug of uncooked rice is enough to feed one adult, and two heaped tablespoons of mashed potato will also feed one adult. By just using what is needed for one particular meal, and saving what isn’t used for a later date, more meals can be created from the same ingredients. For example, if you only need to use half a jar of sauce for a pasta meal, rather than just using it all up or throwing it away, put the rest of the jar in the fridge and use it for another meal in the next couple of days. Small steps such as this can help drastically reduce the amount of food waste produced by each household.