In the UK, we throw away £9.7 billion of food every year – that’s a staggering amount of food ending up in the bin! On average, each household throws away £355.68 worth of food every year. Not only is this food waste a strain on the planet, but it also means we are effectively throwing away hard-earned money. So, how can we all waste less food, and save that money whilst also helping the planet?
Researchers have found that millennials tend to be better at this than older age groups. Something that drives this habit is being money-conscious; meal planning can help you save a lot of money. Before you head out to the supermarket, plan out what you’re going to eat on each day of the week. Write out a shopping list of everything you need for those meals, taking into account what you already have in your cupboards. If you have something in your fridge that will go off in the next few days make sure to incorporate that into meals at the beginning of the week. Not only will meal planning help you to avoid buying food you won’t eat, but it will also save you money and time!
Best Before vs. Use By Dates
We’ve all fallen victim to this next hurdle – can you eat something that’s past its best before date? The answer is usually yes! Lots of foods have two dates on their packaging: a best before date and a use by date. The best before date is the date past which the producers believe the food is no longer in its best condition. However, usually the food is very much still edible. The use by date indicates when you should eat the product before, as after this date they can no longer guarantee it will be safe to eat. You should use your own judgement to decide whether to eat or throw away food past its use by date. Often this food is still fine to eat, but it is at your own risk! The important thing to note is that you don’t necessarily need to throw away food that is past its best before date.
Use What You Have
Lots of us have food in cupboards we rarely look in that has a long shelf-life. However, if we rarely check on this food, we sadly sometimes get a surprise when we find this food is a couple of years out of date! This often happens with packets of food or tins of food that we assumed would last for many years. The best way to avoid this disappointing situation is to rotate food as you buy it. When you buy more of food you already have in your cupboards at home, bring forward the older food and place the newer food behind it. This means the older food is more accessible so you will use this before the newer food.
Doing these small things each week will help reduce the amount of food your household throws away. By the end of the year, you might have a nice surprise when you realise how much money you’ve saved!