Top tips to reduce food waste and your weekly shopping bill

News & Insights

Sandy Macdonald

12th August 2016 at 9:00am

Did you know that we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year in the UK, and that more than half of this is good food that could have been eaten?

Apparently this is because we either cook or prepare too much food or we don’t use it in time. According to Love Food Hate Waste, food waste costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children – that’s the equivalent of throwing £60 into the bin a month.

That’s £60 a month I could be putting towards our next family holiday or into savings for my kids’ futures.

I was surprised by these figures so this month we’ve been working with Love Food Hate Waste at our head offices in Edinburgh to encourage our people to reduce their food waste, save money and look at portion control.

Here’s our top tips to reduce food waste and your weekly shopping bill:

Get smart about date labels

  • Use by date – you can freeze food right up to the use by date. Freezing on day of purchase is a myth.
  • Best by dates – are just a guide of when food is at its best – it’s not an indication of your food being unfit to eat.
  • Display-until and sell-by – are instructions for shop staff, not for you.

Plan your meals and make a list

Dull perhaps, but buying only what you need will save you money and cut down on unused food. Plan your meals in advance, check your cupboards and write a shopping list. Take your list to the shops with you and make sure you stick to it.

Not a planner? There are loads of online plans available that you can adapt to suit you. Here’s just a couple:



Find out more about storing your food correctly to keep it fresher for longer

Apples go in the fridge, potatoes in a cool dark place, and store bread in the cupboard or freezer; you can freeze some surprising stuff like cheese and milk to keep it for longer too.

Got food left over?

Try freezing that extra portion of uneaten food – it will make a useful time saver another day. And remember leftovers and forgotten ingredients are the backbone of another great meal. BBC Good Food has some great recipes for leftovers and you can make sure you get your portions right with the Love Food Hate Waste portions and planning tool.

Consider supermarket own brands

Especially for cupboard essentials like salt, flour, sugar, rice and oats and so on. Would you really notice any difference if you got the cheaper product?

Watch out for pre-packaged foods

When you buy pre-packaged food you’re actually paying for the packaging. It’s not just fruit and vegetables that are cheaper to buy loose, supermarket deli counters are often cheaper too.

Avoid snack packs – like mini boxes of cereal or raisins – they are usually bad value and have unnecessary extra packaging. If you want small portions, invest in good reusable containers.

Always check price per kilo too – retailers have to make price comparisons clear to consumers so make the most of this information and choose the most cost effective option.

Try the value supermarkets

Consumer surveys show that food from discount retailers has no noticeable difference in quality or taste.

And remember a deal isn’t always a good deal. Most supermarkets have three-for-twos or buy-one-get-one-free offers running – in general avoid them or you’ll end up with things you don’t really need. But if you were going to get it anyway then get it.

Shop online

There are sometimes online exclusives to take advantage of and you’ll tend to stick to what you need – it works brilliantly if you’re meal planning.

Buy misshapen veg

Most retailers offer discounted ranges of vegetables – not because of the quality, source or taste but due to the size and shape so think about buying these.

There are so many simple recipes out there designed to help savers and reduce food waste, so check them out today and start cutting your food budget. And once you get into the habit of planning ahead and making a few simple lifestyle changes you’ll soon see the benefits to the amount you can save each month.

Share your thoughts

If you have some tips for reducing food waste, we’d love to hear them. Join the conversation and follow us on twitter @StandardLifeUK and Facebook.