What if there was an easy way you could spend less on food, and know you were helping the planet at the same time?
Two words: food waste. If you feel that helpless global warming guilt every time you see the latest news on ice caps, you might be shocked to learn that those brown bananas you threw in the bin last night are actually bad for the planet. Yes, when you waste food it majorly contributes to climate change. And unbelievably, ⅓ of the food produced globally is wasted, so it’s a big problem.
Did you know that when food decomposes in landfill it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 27 times more potent than carbon dioxide? Pretty scary isn’t it. But it’s not just about what happens to the food that doesn’t get eaten.
It’s all the resources needed to grow, transport and package food. Just think: it takes about five brimming bathtubs of water to produce six eggs. When we accidentally forget about half a carton, we don’t only waste the eggs – we waste all that water it took to produce them as well.
It’s a huge issue, but luckily there are lots of easy (and delicious!) ways to start making a difference. And the best part? The better you get at saving food, the more pounds you’ll have left in your bank account too.
1. Dine out wisely
Heard of Too Good To Go? It’s the free app that lets you buy unsold food from your favourite stores for a great price. Eateries such as YO! Sushi, Lola’s Cupcakes and Costa are on the app, as well as loads of independent cafes and bakeries who make food fresh each day. For about £3-£4, you can even score a full English from hotel breakfast buffets, or a Sunday roast from pubs who have too much left. Give it a try, download the free Too Good To Go app.
2. Don’t treat expiry dates as gospel
Knowing your ‘use by’ from your ‘best before’ is important for cutting food waste. Lots of these labels are indicators of quality, not safety. Next time you’re on the verge of throwing away something that’s past its sell by date, give it a sniff instead. Even if items such as spinach leaves are slightly wilted, they’ll be fine stirred in with pasta at the end of cooking time, or whizzed into your morning smoothie.
3. Have a fridge feast
Get your housemates in on the cause by sharing a ‘fridge feast’ each week. Whip uneaten eggs, wilting broccoli and leftover cooked pasta into an easy frittata, and mash those bananas into a delicious banana loaf dessert. Not only will this preempt unrecognisable back-of-fridge discoveries, but it’s a great way to wrangle a ‘zero spending’ day when funds are getting tight.
4. Use the whole thing
Many of us are guilty of ditching edible parts of produce just because it’s what we’ve always done. Did you know that broccoli stalks are delicious when they’re sliced and roasted, or that beetroot leaves have lots of the same nutrients as spinach?
5. Make a meal plan
By making a weekly meal plan and shopping list, it’s easier to only buy as much as you need. Instead of winging your supermarket shop, try to plan ahead – stay motivated by relishing that organised feeling, and tracking the money you save.
6. Resist buying food you don’t need
It’s easy to get sucked into a 2-for-£2 bread deal, but think carefully before reaching for bargains like these – they often give you a false sense of economy. You’ll end up spending more than if you had only bought what you needed, and that extra food may well go off before you get to it.