We are collectively outraged when supermarkets throw out edible food. We’re loud and determined about it, to the point that earlier this year Britain’s leading food retailers agreed to cut food waste by 20 per cent by 2025. But while there’s considerable public support for the UK to follow Italy and France by making it illegal for supermarkets to bin edible food, that fervour doesn’t seem to make it into our own kitchens. And it costs us.
In fact, a new report from Sainsbury’s has found that just 3 per cent of people feel there’s a stigma attached to binning food, which is perhaps why almost 50 per cent of the total amount of food wasted in this country comes from our own homes. According to the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, UK homes waste 7 million tonnes of food and drink each year, and more than half of that was produce that could have been eaten
In spite of this, we’re also obsessed with saving money on household bills. The Sainsbury’s research showed that almost three-quarters of people make a conscious effort to save money by turning lights off and more than half say they have turned heating down to save cash. A third have changed energy providers to find a cheaper deal.
The average saving of those three changes combined is just £305 a year. That’s substantially less than the £700 a typical family wastes on uneaten food and drink every 12 months.
Throwing out food may not carry a social stigma but it’s costing us around £60 a month. But there are an increasing number of innovative ways to cut back the amount of food we discard. Consider these seven ways to cut waste and save money:
1) Love Food, Hate Waste
The website for the campaign Love Food, Hate Waste has a wealth of resources including tips and information on using up food and keeping it fresh for as long as possible.
Most importantly, it has four great food-saving tools, including a portion planner, meal planner, mobile app and a “food waste assistant” that allows you to enter details of the last food that has been thrown away and get help avoiding wasting that product in the future.
2) Change 4 Life meal planner and recipe finder
The NHS’s Change 4 Life website provides a recipe finder that suggests healthy meals that serve four adults and typically cost no more than £5 each. It will also help you draw up a meal plan and even a shopping list, so you can reduce waste by planning ahead.
This is another app designed to cut food waste. It allows users to collect food from local restaurants, cafes and bakeries for as little as £2 when the businesses are about to close and there’s still food left unsold. So far the app has helped save 3,070 meals. It’s in its infancy, but since it’s a way for both retailers and shoppers to save money it’s likely to grow in popularity.
This website stocks surplus food and food that’s near or passed its best-before date. Importantly, the food is all perfectly good to eat and the website won’t sell anything that’s past its use-by date. According to the website, its regular customers typically save around £60 on their monthly shopping.
5) The Pantry
It’s not yet launched but one to watch: Loughborough University has devised an app named Pantry, which encourages householders to take greater ownership of their purchased food. The proposed app would be downloadable to smartphones and include a stocklist so you can keep an inventory, an expiry tacker that alarms when items approach their use-by date and recipe recommendations. As yet the app is still in development but shoppers could always make do with a notebook in the meantime!
This new app connects neighbours and local restaurants and retailers to share surplus food rather than throw it out. You download the app, set your home location and then you can see what food is being offered locally. This could include un-opened packets that are nearing their use-by date or even leftover vegetables where the owner has only used part. Although Olio is relatively new to the UK, there’s a large and growing customer base.
This is a price comparison website for groceries. It allows you to compare the cost of your weekly shop at 13 different UK supermarkets, to find the cheapest place for your household’s specific basket of goods. It also shows the price fluctuations of different products, allowing you to identify genuine deals and stock up when items are cheaper than normal. On top of that, it highlights where shoppers can exchange branded items for lower cost own-brand alternatives. According to the website, customers save an average of 30 per cent off their weekly bill by shopping around and choosing the cheapest supermarket. If that’s £10, for example, that means a potential saving of £520 a year.
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