It’s estimated that some families dispose of nearly 50% of the food they purchase. This seems pretty extreme, but I can imagine it carries some degree of truth.
Most of us can take steps to cut down on the amount of food we waste in our own homes. If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, reducing waste and being shop savvy is also particularly important.
So, without further delay here are 25 simple, yet often overlooked tips
Before you shop
1) Research local shops and markets close to your work and home, to find where you can buy the cheapest foods, or which shops regularly have offers.
2) Look out for special offers in the local newspaper, flyer’s, or supermarket websites for items such as fresh meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables etc.
3) Plan your shopping to avoid costly impulse buys. Check out my previous article, 5 Tips for Successful Menu Planning.
4) Work out how much money you can afford to spend, then set out with a shopping list, and that amount of money only. Also, try leaving your debit and credit card at home to avoid impulse buys.
5) Try not to go shopping on an empty stomach – you’ll be tempted to buy more than you need.
Vary your shopping experience
6) Check out shops that sell ethnic foods – they often have a good selection of foods which they sell cheaply.
7) Don’t forget about your local Farmer’s Market where you can buy local produce in peak season, and therefore cheaper. Remember if you live, for example, in America it is generally cheaper to purchase produce from the US, rather than something that’s currently not in season, and therefore imported.
8 ) If your local health food store has a bin section, you’ll save money by not paying for expensive packaging, and you can buy as little, or as much as you need.
At the supermarket
9) Check out the unit prices to help you compare costs between brands and size. You may need to divide the total price by the number of ounces, and this will give you the unit price per ounce.
10) Take advantage of “buy one get one free” offers on foods which you know you like, or will definitely use. Remember to check out the sell-by dates, also ask yourself if you can use the food in a large quantity, and check that they are actually cheaper than normal.
11) Opt for generic brands whenever possible. A good tip is to check out what’s on the higher and lower shelves, as supermarkets often place the more expensive items at eye-level.
12) If you can use them, buying bags of apples, oranges, potatoes, onions, etc will work out cheaper than buying one or two items at a time.
13) You can also save money by buying starchy foods, such as rice and pasta in bulk.
14) Don’t buy bagged, or washed salad mixes – they cost a lot more, won’t go as far, and go off quicker.
15) Buy a variety of tinned, dried and frozen foods. Frozen foods are particularly good as they are less likely to be wasted. Tinned foods are also a good choice; however choose fruit in natural juice, and vegetables with no added salt.
16) Keep an eye out for mistakes at the checkout, and always double check your receipt and change.
17) Add extra bulk to your meals up by including inexpensive beans, peas, or lentils to stews, soups, and curries. If you have the time, dried beans and peas are even cheaper.
18) Eat at home rather than in restaurants, or from takeaways. This way you’ll save money, and will be eating healthier foods.
19) Breakfast cereals can be particularly expensive; you can save money by making your own using oats, wheat flakes, dried fruit, sunflower seeds etc.
20) Cooking in bulk is much more time efficient and cheaper. Try using leftovers for lunch the following day, and storing meals in the freezer for another time.
21) If you have left over vegetables add them to stews or soups, and then pop in the freezer for a later date, this will avoid waste, and save money.
22) Avoid expensive, and often unhealthy ready-meals.
23) Use tap water rather than buying bottled water.
24) Can you share food and cooking with friends, or family? It’s often cheaper to buy in bulk, and sharing will also help to avoid unnecessary waste.
25) Grow your own fruits and veggies, if you don’t have a garden remember they can be grown in pots.
What are your tips for saving money and food wastage? We’d love to hear from you!