The average household wastes a surprising amount of food every year, and this leaves its impact on a family budget. If less food were wasted, less would have to be bought and the money spent on food would fall. The average household loses £470 a year on wasted food, according to Love Food Hate Waste, and for families with children that annual figure rises to £700.
There are several things you can do to reduce the amount of food that you waste and save that money for something else. These include:
Don’t be a Slave to Expiration Dates
It is estimated that over half of the food thrown away in the UK by households could still have been eaten. This is largely down to people adhering strictly to the dates printed on food. These dates are an important guideline, but that’s what they are a guideline. If in doubt, throw food away but use your common sense first. Dates should have a few days “safety net” built in, and many foods will make it obvious when they have really gone off. For example, milk will smell bad long before it becomes harmful.
It is also good to know the difference between “Use By” and “Best Before” dates. “Use By” is used for foods that become harmful when they go off. “Best Before” means the food may decline in quality but should be okay to eat unless there are issues such as mould.
Take Stock Regularly
Most food ends up expiring and getting thrown away because it has been forgotten about for a while. A great way to reduce waste is to regularly look through your fridge and cupboards and make sure you keep aware of the situation surrounding any perishable or opened foods you have. This could be as simple as asking yourself the question “do I have anything that needs to be used up” before deciding what to have for each meal.
If you need help keeping track there are several tactics you can use. For instance, you could assign a particular shelf in your fridge or cupboard exclusively to things that have been opened and need to be used, or which you have noticed have short dates. Alternatively, keep gods organised by how long they will last. It might take some time to get them in order in the first place, but after that it will be relatively simple to keep things that way.
Don’t Buy Excessively
Another way to cut food waste is to avoid buying too much of anything that will spoil in one go. People tend to be naturally drawn to larger value packs or multibuy discount offers because these usually represent the best value. However, if the extra is just going to get wasted, you are losing money instead of saving it.
If the savings from buying in bulk still look tempting, you might want to try splitting large packs of perishable goods with a friend. If you each pay half of the price and take half of the food, you will both get a better price than you would from a smaller pack and it will be easier to avoid waste.