If I told you I could shave £100 off your shopping bill every month, just by asking you not to throw food away, what would you say?
It’s well known that the average UK family throws away at least £60 worth of food a month and buys way more than they need.
So, I set my family a challenge. Could we give up food waste for a month? That means throwing zero food away, regardless of what it was.
I learned a lot over the month, and now it’s become just something we all do naturally. None of this is rocket science, to be honest, these are just seven simple things we now do that make a big impact on saving on the family shop.
It’s so simple, we all should be doing it. Just by looking through your cupboards, fridge, and freezer, you can plan what you need, and what you plan on eating that week.
I’ve said it before; it doesn’t need to be stuck in stone. If you have leftovers in the freezer and prefer them, use them, just stick what you were going to eat in the freezer for next time.
Meal planning also stops you going crazy at the supermarket and buying stuff you already have at home or aren’t really going to use.
Plan out your meals with the ingredients you’re going to need. Reducing your food waste doesn’t have to be boring, it’s all about planning.
Crumpets a bit hard or that frozen gammon in the freezer about to go off? Then use them!
This is where your cupboard staples come in. If you’ve eaten crumpets for lunch every day this week just to get rid of them, then try sprucing them up with a couple of eggs and your gammon.
The rest of the now cooked gammon can be for dinner, in a pasta (another staple) bake or curried using tinned tomatoes and puree, (both staples.)
I use this list. All foods that have a very long shelf life but can help make a meal if I have something else going to waste.
It’s very easy to serve big family meals and get carried away. I have two small fussy children and used to cook as if I was cooking for four people, just in case the kids were hungry.
In truth, they hardly eat anything at dinnertime, so I’ve reduced the portions right down to cooking for two, and skimming off of our portions.
Using smaller plates for us adults help, and weighing out food like pasta and rice saves me over cooking then throwing it away.
I generally say for pasta, 75g each per adult and one to two small cups each per adult with rice.
If you’re only using half a vegetable, like peppers or carrots, remember to wrap them and leave them in plain sight in the fridge, to remind you they’re still there.
It’s so easy to incorporate any leftovers into your daily or weekly routine, simply by just grating them up to bulk a meal out.
Take pizza for example. If the kids can’t manage it all that night, wrap it up and serve it again for lunch with a salad. Who doesn’t like pizza twice a week right?
For gone off fruit, smoothie them up for a healthy snack or bake them into banana or carrot cakes, or a crumble.
We all cook more than we can eat. Instead of feeding the bin, put it all together in a freezer-safe container once cool, and label then freeze.
Next week when you go to write your meal plan, you’ll already have a meal complete. Win!
It always baffled me why my milk went off so quickly or why the mince browned after a few days. It wasn’t in till I starting to research why that I realized I was putting all my food in the wrong places.
Just by moving the milk and the meat to the middle, and the vegetables to the bottom, did I start to see not only a difference in taste and freshness but on how long my food was lasting?
This handy iconograph is a great starting point if you (like me, moons ago) have no clue how to start.
If you want, you can take it one step further and rotate your fridge, making sure that the items going out of date are at the front, with the longest dates at the back.
This catches all of us out.
The thing about food labels is that they are meant to keep us safe, but none of us really understand what they all mean, which results in a lot of good food getting thrown away.
The only one you really need to know is “Use by”. Even if food still looks or smells good after the date, don’t use it.
Best before is about food quality and is more of a suggestion. Use your judgment to decide if it’s safe to use or not, and if it is and going out of date, then freeze it to use later.
Still not convinced?
Then let me prove it to you by doing it myself. Over the next month, I’ll record our Journey via YouTube, and show you what we do as a family to stop wastage.
It’s not easy at times, but for an extra £100 a month in your pocket, isn’t it worth a shot?
Meal plan to stop you over buying then throwing it away. Remember to check your freezer and fridge for any leftovers you can use for meals that week.
Use small plates and skim off your meals if you have young children. If they are still hungry after, then fruit smoothies or a yogurt are great fillers, and can also be used in other meals if they’re leftover at the end of the week.
Anything left vegetable wise can be grated up and added to a dinner while fruit can be put into cakes and treats. Meat can be frozen or used for two or three meals in the week.
Freezing food can save it. Curry, cottage pie, spaghetti Bolognese; all defrost and taste perfect again once reheated. Bread, crumpets and hot cross buns can all be added too and defrosted when needed.
Rearrange the fridge to put everything with a quick date at the front and make sure anything dairy or meat related is in the middle.
Know your food labels and what they mean. This could be the difference between a £50 shop and a £80 shop.
Keep your cupboard staples topped up. If you suddenly have meat or fish going off, use these to make a quick and simple meal to eat or freeze.