Saving Money and Avoiding Food Wastage – My 12 Top Tips
“Don’t throw that away, give it to Kate, she will make soup from that!”
I have been known to leave friends and families houses with egg whites after a delicious chocolate fondant, tomato tops and ends after a salsa had been made, and even a chicken carcass! It’s not that I am tight, I just hate waste, no matter what it is.
My mum has always run a tight kitchen and by that I mean, no food wastage. Soups were usually made when vegetables were past their best, or a big tray of roast veg with odds and ends; it’s just what we do. So when I hear about berries that have seen better days being thrown away or plums past their ‘Best Before’ date being binned it makes me wince.
We as a nation, waste so much money every year on food wastage. I read that some households can throw £60 worth of food away each month! £720 a year. What could you do with that money? All it takes is a little bit more care and some organisation to ensure you don’t haemorrhage money away like that.
Summer is over, we have all spent too much money and Christmas is around the corner. In this five part blog, I want to share my Top Tips to save money on food and avoid food wastage.
The difference between “Best Before” and “Use By” Dates
Now, a “Best Before” date is not the same as a “Use By”. Best Before dates are about quality; enjoying the product at its full potential. It’s a polite suggestion by the manufacturers. It does NOT mean the food has to be thrown away after this date. A Use By date is stricter as this date is about health and safety. These dates are used on eggs, cheese, chicken and meat. If these foods are off, they could actually cause you harm.
So in short, I ignore Best Before dates and I use my senses to decide. If it looks, smells and feels good, I will use it. I personally will do the same with Use By dates within reason, but don’t listen to me on that…. I don’t want a lawsuit on my hands for salmonella poisoning!
A well organised kitchen is key to saving money and avoiding food wastage.
Two of the sexiest words… Planning and Organisation. Being organised and having a plan, will not only save you money and stop you throwing food away, but will also keep you healthy.
My Top 12 Tips
Before you go shopping…
1. Organise your kitchen cupboards. If you know where everything is, you are less likely to buy something you already have. Ensure you have plastic tubs and freezer bags to store and freeze left overs.
2. Take stock of what is in your cupboards and plan meals around that. You may only need a few additional ingredients to make 3 days’ worth of meals from what is lurking around in the back of your cupboard!
3. Clean out your fridge at least once a month; once a week if you have time. I clear out my fridge before every shop. Use up what you have before you go shopping. You will be surprised what delicious meals you can make from a few odd ingredients. This will ensure that you use any food that is about to go off.
4. Make a meal plan for the week and write a shopping list before you go. You don’t need to stick it to it religiously, but it’s a start. Seems obvious, but if you don’t have a plan you will go in to the supermarket and buy too much or come home with no meals and just a load of random bits.
5. Eat before you go shopping…we all know this! If you are hungry you will not be able to concentrate. Health and economy will be the last things on your mind and you will head to either the bakery, the pizza counter or crisp aisle.
In the shop
6. Be aware of special offers. It is only a good deal if you actually like it and will use it all! If you plan to take advantage of special offers and stock up, check the use by dates. If you can freeze the item do this as soon as you get home to ensure the product is as fresh and safe as possible.
7. Look below and above eye level. All the premium products are in the middle and cost more money. There is very little difference between supermarket brands and brand names for many products. If in doubt look at the ingredient and nutritional content and compare. I often find supermarket own brands to be lower in salt and sugar than the more expensive varieties.
8. Avoid ready meals. You can make a much more nutritionally balanced meal by cooking yourself and save pounds!
9. Have a look in the reduced section. Fruit and vegetables past their Best Before date are still absolutely edible. Items in the reduced fridge often contain meat, chicken and fish that still have another full day on their Use By date.
10. Put the new items at the back and freeze things that you know you will not use before the ‘Use By’ date.
11. Cook more than you need. Portion food out when you serve into plastic tubs for another day. You can freeze these meals or keep it in the fridge to have for lunch the following day. This will save you time and money.
12. Get creative. If a recipe calls for an ingredient that you don’t have, see what you do have. Use recipes for inspiration; there is room for manoeuvrability in every recipe with the exception of baking. You don’t need to feel like you need to follow a recipe to the letter. I am a bit of a rebel, rules are meant to be broken!
Follow as many rules as you can to run a tight kitchen.