As a nation we throw out 7 million tonnes of food and drink a year, something that will cost the average family of four around £700 in 2016. Here are five simple tips to help reduce the amount of food you throw away and save you some money into the bargain.
I’m not that good at New Year’s Resolutions – from bitter experience I know that even just saying the words is setting myself up for failure.
Instead, somewhere around the middle of the first week of January (like now) I like to set intentions. In my book, intentions are a kinder, less pressurised way of telling myself I’m going to do things a little differently this year. I set myself an intention, point myself in that direction, safe and secure in the knowledge that at times I will lose focus, wander away from the target and generally get a bit distracted, but by the end of the year I should be in a better position than when I started it. That’s the intention anyway. (Google “New Year’s intentions” and you’ll find lots of useful info if you think that’s something you’d be more open to trying, or if you’ve already broken your own New Year’s Resolutions and want to have a rethink.)
On that note, one of my top intentions for this year is a continuation of last year’s – to try and cut back on the amount of food waste we throw away as a family.
Food waste is something I’m really embarrassed about – it’s like a shameful secret I feel really uncomfortable even mentioning. Yes, I am quite sure we all throw away food, it’s just that in my family’s case, in the past anyway, it’s been a lot of food. Like, two grocery bags a week worth. I know.
Last year I decided to try and do something about it. With just a few small tweaks I managed to get our food waste down to around 1/2 bag a week with the occasional lapse (Christmas was a disaster). I think that saved us around £60 to £70 a month!
So this year is all about continuing that trend and seeing if I can reduce it even further. If you’re interested in seeing what I did differently scroll to the bottom of this page to start the gallery, but first:
Why cut back on food waste?
Firstly, and probably the most obvious reason is that we could all save ourselves some money. According to Love Food Hate Waste, the average family of four throws away £700 pounds of food a year. That’s £700 that could be put towards something else – a new washing machine, furniture, kids stuff, a holiday…
Secondly, it’s just bad for the environment. We all know that right? 1) because all that food just ends up in our ever burgeoning landfill sites and 2) growing our food places a huge tax on the planet’s resources – if we bought less, producers would ultimately grow less. Love Food Hate Waste says if we all stopped wasting food it would be the equivalent to 1 in 4 cars being taken off the roads.
On a practical note, with our bins only being emptied once every two weeks, cutting back on food waste means saying goodbye to overflowing bins days before the collection day. Has anyone else had the pleasure of cleaning up a bin the foxes have got into? Nice!
How we waste food
From personal experience, the reasons I waste food include:
- buying too much food in the first place and then never getting around to eating it before the use-by date
- making too much food – for some reason I always cook too much pasta, potatoes and rice and then have to throw it out
- not using up leftovers. I say I’ll use up leftovers but hardly ever do!
- not taking advantage of the freezer. My freezer is just a depository for food that never gets eaten, except for ice cream…. funnily enough.
5 steps to reducing food waste
Over the past year I’ve learned lots of useful tips and advice from some fantastic resources which I’ve listed below.
We’re really pleased to be featuring the Your Food Waste Assistant tool from Love Food Hate Waste on Meals Our Kids Love! Scroll down to the bottom of our home page where it asks you what you’ve thrown away and gives you helpful alternatives and options to help you reduce food waste in future.
Other wonderful resources include AO.com’s A Wasteless Journey and MyZeroWaste.com – both packed full of tips and advice. You can read our reviews of both these sites in the Friday Dish (Zero Waste Week and A Wasteless Journey)
In the meantime, let’s crack on with my own personal steps to reducing food waste and saving money.