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10 Tips for saving money on food – Stop Food Waste day

Today (27/04/22) is Stop Food Waste day.

Whilst we will live through the ever growing cost of living crisis, we need to be saving money where we can as well as the planet.

Kate Hall is a Food Waste Expert and Founder of The Full Freezer.   and has written this helpful blog post to do just that.

1. Make sure your fridge is cold enough

Did you know, making sure your fridge is 5°C or colder can help foods such as milk, fruit and veg last as many as three days longer? Grab yourself a fridge thermometer to check the temperature if there isn’t one inbuilt, and check your appliance instructions to make sure you’ve got your fridge working properly (they should be online if you haven’t got the paper copy)!

Also never leave your fridge door open for longer than necessary, and don’t ever put warm or hot food in it.

2. Understand date labels

In the UK, packaged foods will usually be labelled with a ‘Use By’ or a ‘Best Before’ date. Whilst ‘Use By’ dates are there for our safety, and foods should not be consumed after these dates, ‘Best Before’ is purely there as a guide on quality. So, if your food has a Best Before and it looks and smells okay, don’t bin it!

picture of Chinese takeaway food laid out on plates on table

3. Store your food properly

Some foods can cause others to go off faster, and how you store your foods can also impact their shelf-life. For example, potatoes and onions should both be stored in a cool, dark place, but never together! It’s also a good idea to store your bananas (and any cut flowers!) away from other fruits, as they give off ethylene gas which will make other fruits ripen faster. If your food is packaged, always check the pack for guidance on how best to store it.

4. Love your leftovers

Leftovers can often end up straight in the bin, or stuffed in the fridge for a few days before chucking them. A couple of things you can do to make better use of them are:
1) Serve smaller portions and go back for seconds rather than loading your plate up – that way you have leftovers, not plate waste
2) Cool any leftovers within 2 hours (1 hour for rice), then cover and refrigerate to keep them safe to eat
3) Eat leftovers within 48 hours, and if you know you won’t eat them, freeze them for another day!

5. Check what you’ve got, then make a list and stick to it

If you’re going to the shops, make sure you always check your fridge, cupboards and freezer before you go. It can be tempting to buy things out of habit, or because they’re on offer, but if your budget is being squeezed, things you have in stock are the things you can easily cut out. By having a plan and a list, it’s much easier to ensure you don’t go off course and buy far more than you need.

6. Be a yellow-sticker hero

Most shops will reduce products an hour or so before they close, if not earlier. Ask in your local shop if there’s a standard time for reductions, and be proud to shop yellow-sticker. By buying these foods, you save yourself money but you’re also saving the foods (and packaging!) from going into landfill. Save food, save money, save the planet – what’s not to love!

7. Get ‘appy’

There are some brilliant apps out there which help to ensure food doesn’t go to waste, and this can often mean getting some substantially reduced goodies. Check out Olio and Too Good to Go for stacks of food you can lay claim to today.

8. Make Intentional Leftovers & ‘Bulk Out’ Your Meals

A great way of making the best use of your ingredients is to make intentional leftovers. If you’re making a meal that you love, simply double up the quantity and freeze half. If you are a meat eater, instead of doubling up the meat, add extra veggies and pulses (such as lentils) to bulk the dish out.

Cool within 2 hours, then freeze in usable portions. I like to freeze flat in freezer bags as this allows me to fit more in my freezer, protects the food effectively and is quick to defrost.

9. Buy frozen

If you often end up wasting leftover ingredients (particularly veggies), be sure to check out your supermarket’s frozen food aisle. Whilst some frozen foods will be more expensive than fresh, they will last much longer, so you’re less likely to waste them. There are also some ingredients (such as spinach), which works out far cheaper than buying fresh.

10. Learn to freeze

And if you’re not keen on buying shop-frozen foods, consider freezing your own! The average UK family wastes over £700 a year throwing away food that could have been eaten, often because they simply didn’t get to it in time. Your freezer allows you to press a pause button on that food; and you don’t even need to batch cook! Most foods can be frozen as single individual ingredients, and can then be cooked with straight from frozen. If you would like to learn more about doing this, please check out my bio below.

About the author

Kate Hall head shot young female long dark hair light green topKate Hall is a Food Waste Expert and Founder of The Full Freezer.

Kate helps busy households to reduce their food waste and cook from scratch more easily by using their home freezers more effectively. Unlike batch cooking, The Full Freezer Method is completely flexible and allows families to easily enjoy a wide variety of meals.

Kate has been featured by BBC Food & BBC Radio, and has appeared live on Channel 4’s ‘Steph’s Packed Lunch’ sharing her food waste hacks. She has also appeared in publications including Prima magazine, The Telegraph and Fabulous magazine.

To find out more about how you could reduce your food waste and save money follow Kate @TheFullFreezer:

Listen to Kate’s tips

I gave these tips on BBC Radio London


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Earth Day – making a difference with your shopping habits

Today (22/04/22) is Earth Day. The Theme is “Invest In Our Planet. What Will You Do?”

Most people understand that we have a climate change problem in the world. Most of those people understand we need to change our habits to make a difference.

pasta. biscuits, tins, deodorant, crisps, baby food

But whilst people are struggling to pay bills, how environmentally conscious are we, what can we do more of and how should businesses improve?

I have been talking to consumers to find out more about what they are doing and how people can follow suit.

What shopping habits are consumers changing?

There are some common themes to what consumers feel able to do more

Shop secondhand

People are increasingly using charity shops, and sites like Facebook, eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle. Ruth Bradford says that there are fantastic charity shops about and amazing apps/websites now that make it as easy as buying from stores/online. She states that there is “No excuse really, just a mindset shift. I’ve barely bought anything new for a good 5 years now and have some amazing finds from our local charity shops I would never have normally bought.”

Polly Arrowsmith buys secondhand designer items, arguing that it is even more cost effective as items last longer and works out the “per wear” cost of each item. For example, her Chanel bags were £3,300 and now are worth £6,500 each. She uses her mini patent leather Chanel bag daily.

“It cost £1,800 and to replace it would be £4,000. Price per wear- less than £1. It still looks good, and I could resell it.”

Arrowsmith worked for Prada and knows their ecological footprint and that their human resources are based in Europe. “There is no slave labour with some designers. I do not want to rely on companies that exploit people or pollute the waters”.

Eating food in season

With improving education in this area it is something that people are learning to do more often. Jennifer Mathisen says she tries to purchase food as seasonally as possible, whilst also buying locally.

Soft, exotic fruits and out of season vegetables spoil quickly and so are frequently transported by aeroplanes, increasing Greenhouse Gas emissions. Often grown in heated greenhouses, extra energy is used to grow out of season Mediterranean style produce around Europe.

A study in June 2020 undertaken by the European Consumers Organization (BEUC) found that “two-thirds of consumers are open to changing their eating habits for environmental reasons, with many willing to waste less food at home, buy more seasonal fruit and vegetables and eat more plant-based foods.”

You can use the European Food Information Council’s interactive fruit and vegetable map to find out what fruit and vegetables are in season where in the world.

Refill shops

These are increasing in number and popularity. Twenty Per Cent blogger, Katie Royals, says that she has a refill shop in the next town to her and goes when she can. “It can be a bit more expensive but you can get only what you need so there’s less waste and you’re not paying for things you don’t end up using! (Just don’t forget your containers!)”

Shopping locally

During the pandemic we saw an increase in people trying to do this to support small businesses, as well as using the most of the convenience and customer service that local shops provide.

Shop Local Online is a website and there is an app available too. It enables local independent shops and businesses to show information, products and services they have for sale in your town or city in one place. You can browse, makes lists for later and find out about small businesses in your local area and use when travelling round the country too.

Reducing food waste

Writing menus for the week before shopping is something more people are doing, as it is also helps money as you buy what you need not food out of habit or tempted to buy because it is on offer. The number of people reducing or stopping eating meat is still a relatively small proportion of the population.

A YouGov tracker shows vegans making up 2-3% of the population and the vegetarian population at about 5-7%. But a YouGov survey of 1000 vegetarians and vegans in January of this year, revealed that 63% of vegans started in the last five years. Although 81% graduated from vegetarianism, so many have been avoiding meat for much longer than this. 46% of vegetarians cut out all meat from their diet in the last five years.

Zoe Morrison blogger and author of Eco Thrifty Living: Save Money, Save the Environment and Live the Life You Want* advises getting an Oddbox delivery. “They deliver surplus and wonky fruit and veg boxes. I reduce packaging by avoiding single serving packaged items where possible. E.g. I buy my kids one big pot of yoghurt and they have some in small bowls when they want it, rather than individual pots.”

Reducing plastic use

This is the top habit in which consumers are engaging. A Deloitte study in 2021 Shifting sands: Are consumers still embracing sustainability? found that “avoiding single-use plastics is the most common way consumers demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, with 61% saying they have cut back.”

What do businesses need to do to help consumers shop in a more environmentally friendly way?

Consumers want to see businesses make changes to a host of things to help them become more green in their shopping habits.

Greenwashing – where a business presents itself as being eco-friendly when it isn’t.- is becoming an increasing problem. (In the last few years a number of companies have been called out for greenwashing.)

Consumers want to see businesses being more transparent about their green credentials. They understand that not all businesses will have it all perfect or be at Net Zero but they want to see them working to improve. Honesty and transparency about what they are doing and working towards will encourage consumers to shop more with these businesses than those that are greenwashing, as consumers become wiser around the issues.

The Deloitte study found that consumers want to do more but many want brands to take the lead, with “64% of consumers wanting brands to reduce packaging, 50% want information on how to recycle and 46% need clarity on sourcing of products.”

It also discovered that 28% of consumers “stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.”

Businesses and the future

The Dragon’s Den star, Deborah Meaden, emphasises environmental and sustainable concerns for consumers, saying that they are “increasingly making their buying choices within their values system and sustainability is right up there at the forefront.”

It is quite clear that businesses need to do more to listen to consumer feedback. The financial equation for businesses is simple. They need to understand that if they do not do more to help consumers purchase green products and services, then it could easily cost them more in lost sales than investing in making the necessary changes.

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