Why are we really wasting £50 a month throwing away good food? It just doesn’t make sense! Emma Marsh gets to the heart of the matter by busting the food waste myths.
That head of lettuce in your fridge showing the first signs of wilting, that remaining pile of rice now a little too cold and lonely on your plate, that extra slice of pizza you thought you wanted but now you're not so sure, and that extra dollop of sauce because it’s there... ring any bells?
Maybe you’ll eat them, maybe you’ll throw them away. After all we’re busy, haven’t got time to worry about it, or think it’s now waste so doesn’t really cost anything.
These are all things we think to ourselves every single day but actually it doesn’t have to be this way – by making simple changes to the way we think and act we can make sure that we make the most of the food we’re buying and don’t throw our money in the bin each month along with the wasted food.
Here are my top five food waste myths – let's bust these today and keep that £50 in our pockets (and not the bin!):
1. Food is cheap
"I can always buy more if I need it!" you might say. But food costs money and it all mounts up. Today I may throw away two slices of bread but I only need eight other people to do the same and that’s a loaf – 2 million are thrown away each day in the UK!
Why not keep a diary of what you’re throwing away as a family for a week and tot up how much it cost you to buy – it’s a real eye opener. If you need inspiration try using the Love food Hate Waste food diary.
2. Food just composts down when we throw it away– it’s natural!
Food in the rubbish bin doesn’t compost down as you might expect. It actually rots because there’s no air in landfill and it produces methane, a damaging greenhouse gas.
Food also uses loads of resources to get to our homes – think about a slice of cheese and the energy, time, fuel and water which all goes into feeding the cows, milking them, sending the milk to be processed into cheese, sending that to the supermarket and chilling it, then we drive there to buy it and drive home, put it in the fridge… and then put it in the bin.
Wasting food is really bad for the environment – another good reason not to throw it away.
3. I just don’t have time!
Actually a small amount of time planning our weekly shop can really free up much more time later in the week. Knowing what we’re going to eat for the week (and getting the kids involved at the same time to pick meals) means we don’t have to spend precious time worrying about what to cook or nipping to the supermarket for emergency food.
Every week, MyFamilyClub posts a family meal planner, with a selection of great seasonal and nutritionally balanced recipes for the whole family. Access the meal planners here.
And remember, cooking double quantities takes no more time, but freezing the extra into portions means on nights when you really don’t have time you can have a homemade healthy and delicious meal straight out of the freezer.
4. Food should always be thrown away the day before the date on the pack!
There are three types of date labels for food – ‘use by’, ‘best before’ and ‘display until’.
Use by is the only important one – you can eat food right up to the end of the use by date but don’t eat it afterwards. Use by dates are only put on foods which could be unsafe after a period of time.
Best before is just about quality – so food is perfectly safe to eat after this date; it will just be past its absolute peak condition. So for example if you have a best before date on a pack of tomatoes, the date has passed and they’re a bit wrinkly, use them instead of tinned tomatoes in a paste sauce – perfect!
Display until is a date label that you can ignore – it’s just for shop staff for stock control.
5. The supermarkets waste more so what difference can I make?
Every single thing we don’t waste makes a real difference – even more so when we tell people what we’re doing and share ideas and tips. In fact, almost 50% of all the food and drink wasted in the UK comes from us, the public. The rest comes from a combination of schools, hospitals, restaurants, supermarkets, farms etc – and they are all doing their bit to waste less too. After all – food waste costs money! For more information on what just one supermarket is doing click here.
So, what could you do with £50 a month? Or £680 a year? A holiday? The electricity bill? Try doing just one thing today and see the change in your budget!
We'd love to hear your story or your tips - share them by commenting below.
Emma Marsh heads up Love Food Hate Waste, which aims to raise awareness of the issue of food waste and offer simple everyday tips and support to help consumers save money and waste less. Emma is also a keen grower of fruit and veg in her garden and allotment at home.