Balancing the family budget can be a real headache – but it can also be a hugely rewarding feeling when you get it right!
A while ago I sat down for a coffee with my sister to see where she can make small changes to her monthly expenses. What did we find? Her one biggest saving in the kitchen is reducing the amount of food she and her family throw away.
National figures show we throw away over five million tonnes of good food and drink every single year. Wasting this food costs our families £680 a year, or £50 a month!
Does that make you think twice about the half eaten loaf of bread you forgot to freeze before it went mould? What about the wrinkly apples in the fruit bowl you forgot to put in the fridge, or the ready meal you didn’t get round to eating before it passed its use-by date…!
I’d much rather keep the £50 for a treat for myself or even to pay the gas bill.
Here are my top tips to save money in the kitchen:
- Planning your meals a few days in advance, noting what you already have in the store cupboard and fridge/freezer, and then shopping for the remaining ingredients you need, can save you time, money and food, as you’ll know exactly what you’re cooking and when. Try to plan your meals around using food with the shortest ‘Use By’ date first.
- Serve up only what the family will eat – have food in a central bowl rather than dishing up straight onto plates – the kids can always come back for more and you can freeze any leftovers for another time
- Get savvy with date labels. They needn’t be a nightmare as there are only two we need to look out for: ‘Best Before’ dates refer to the quality of food, and not food safety, so can be ignored in favour of ‘Use By’ dates. The only exception is eggs which carry a ‘Best Before’ date which should be treated as a ‘Use By’ date! Just remember never to eat food past the ‘Use By’ date, but you can always freeze it right up the date for later use, including milk, and even cheese
- Make sure your storing things in the right way – make your food last longer – did you know apples stored in loosely tied plastic or paper bag in the fridge can last up to two weeks longer than left out in a fruit bowl? Makes a massive difference in my household!
- Finally, get creative with leftovers – try using up leftover shepherd’s pie for next day’s lunch or freezing leftover pasta for another meal.
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.