A new report suggests the average household throws away £800 worth of food a year, but there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of food we waste.
The price we pay for our weekly department store is on the rise.
According to the latest inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics, food inflation rose to 3.5% in April from 3.3% in March.
This makes it the highest food inflation figure seen since March 2013.
All sorts of factors are playing a role in soaring supermarket food prices, from Brexit to the war in Ukraine to rising energy costs.
Given this and the cost of living crisis, it makes sense to target ways to be more efficient in our food purchases.
And one area where we can make sure our money goes further is reducing food waste, which new figures show is responsible for a huge loss of money every year.
Go straight to the trash
A new study from supermarket giant Tesco has found that the average family in the UK wastes food worth around £800 a year.
That’s a lot of money that ends up in the trash, or at least the food recycling box.
Research found that more than three-quarters of us throw away unopened or unused food, and more than one in three households (37%) do so at least once a month.
Incredibly, this suggests that around half a million people end up throwing away food they didn’t open, or simply forgot to eat, every day.
According to the Tesco study, some of the most commonly wasted foods include chicken breasts, potatoes, sliced bread, lettuce, milk and bananas.
It’s not just fresh food that we end up throwing away, with the study identifying items from store cupboards that often end up in the trash.
These include condiments, cookies, dry pasta and rice.
Reduce food waste
First of all, I think it’s important to be realistic.
No matter how good our intentions, for many of us, a little food waste will almost always happen.
The problem is the scale of current food waste, which is simply unsustainable.
So what can we do to reduce the levels of food waste from our own food purchases and ensure that less money ends up being thrown away?
For me, I know for a fact that my family wastes more food when we don’t have a plan in place for the meals we’re going to eat over the next few days.
I’m especially guilty of picking up certain foods “just in case”, only to end up missing eating them before the expiration date is reached.
In recent months we have been much more organized on this front, partly because we now do two small shops a week rather than one big one.
This means we are also less at the mercy of questionable use-by dates on perishable items from Tesco’s Click & Collect team.
If you’re shopping in person, it’s a good idea to be a little more thorough in checking use-by dates.
It might be easy to just drop that package of ground meat into your cart without thinking, but if you’ve already made a meal plan, you’ll know exactly when you need that ground meat.
Make sure the dates are aligned and there’s less chance of perfectly good items going to waste.
Don’t be so demanding
Are you a picky eater? I don’t mean having an aversion to things like mushrooms – that makes sense – but rather being a bit picky about what certain foods look like.
I know I’m guilty of that sometimes, turning my nose up at a perfectly good Granny Smith apple because it’s a little bruised in places. But being too picky in this way contributes to far too much food waste.
Some stores make a point of flogging “ugly” foods, selling “offbeat” boxes of fruits and vegetables.
Get the most out of your freezer
It can be too easy to think of the freezer as where only specifically frozen goods go – your chicken dips, etc.
However, the freezer can be a fantastic tool in the fight against food waste.
You can freeze leftovers from your main meals and eat them later in the week, rather than letting them go to waste.
Freezers can be great for getting the most out of dairy products and even bread.
If you don’t feel like saving your leftovers for future meals, you’ll first need to reduce the risk of leftovers.
And that means being a little more on the ball with your portions.
I started weighing my food, and while this was primarily driven by weight loss goals, it also had the pleasant side effect of reducing waste.
There will be an element of trial and error at first, but once you have an idea of how much pasta you need for a family of four, for example, you can eliminate the risk of overcooking. .
Having a “burned out” day
As a result of their research into food waste, Tesco launched a campaign promoting ‘use it’ days and it’s an idea I really like.
The idea is that once a week, you cook a meal which is simply to use what you already have in the kitchen.
Sure, it might be a bit mixed up ‒ pair a curry with spaghetti rather than rice, because you have to use it, for example ‒ but it’s still better than seeing this food end up in the waste. .
It’s something my wife and I used to do before we started having kids, and I can’t wait to reintroduce it into our own routine.