10 ways to cut your food bills

You want to give your family good food. But good food costs good money.

However, there is also some very good news. There are ways to cut that food bill down, even if your family is large and hungry. The key to almost all of them is to use everything that you buy.

The surprising fact is that every day in the UK, households throw away, on average, 1.96kg of food per day. That’s nearly six million potatoes in the bin and 3.1 million glasses of milk down the kitchen sink.

This adds up to eight meals per week, according to waste activists WRAP.

As well as being a horrible use of precious resources, this also wastes money.

On an average day, the average household tosses £1.36 worth of food. Over the course of a year, that adds up to £496.

41% of this food is thrown away because it hasn’t been used in time. Another 25% goes in the rubbish because too much got served up – and the remainder just didn’t taste as good as it should.

An average family of four can save £60 a month simply by reducing the amount of food they throw away, according to charity Love Food, Hate Waste.

1. Watch the bin

If you’re sceptical about how much you are wasting, track what you throw away for one week. You’ll be surprised - and horrified when you see what all that wasted food actually cost you.

2. Watch what you buy

Buying food because it looked like a bargain and forgetting what you have brought home? Pushed it to the back of the fridge and ignored it until it has gone off? Expensive – a better solution is to check what you have now, make a big effort to eat it up – and stick to a list in future.

Actually, make two lists. A list of things to buy, and a list of don’t buys – the things you already have!

Not sure what you are using and what you are not? Use your supermarket receipt as a guide. If you throw food away, cross it off the receipt. By the end of the week, what you crossed off is the food you have wasted - and what’s left is a list of the only food you need to buy.

3. Check the fridge

We all find forgotten food at the back of the fridge – usually after its too old to eat. Every week or so, go through your fridge and freezer and cupboards and update your “Don’t Buy List”

4. Do the egg float test

Don’t throw those eggs away without using the float test. Fill a bowl with cold water.

  • If the egg sinks to the bottom on its side, it’s very fresh.
  • If your egg sinks to the bottom in an upright position, it’s not quite as fresh.
  • If your egg floats it has started producing rotting gases and has most likely gone bad.

You might find you’ve been throwing out eggs without needing to.

5. Watch biscuits come back to life

Biscuits gone soft? A short session in a hot oven can crisp them back up!

6. Tired of fuzzy fruit?

Berries turning fuzzy after a few days even in the fridge? Put them in a glass jar or airtight plastic tub, and if younotice condensation forming, pop a paper towel in with the berries, to soak up the excess moisture.

7. Hats on the bananas

Bananas last longer if you wrap the tops in a foil hat. It stops ethylene coming from the from the stems - slows down the ripening process, and your bananas last much longer

8. Say cheese

To make your cheese stay fresh, wrap it in a napkin soaked in salty water to prevent it from going mouldy.

9. Go on a date

Before you throw “out-of-date” food, check the dates on the packaging. The Food Standards Agency has some guidelines

  • The ‘Use By’ date, is about safety and the most important date to remember. You will see it on perishables like meat.
  • The ‘Best Before’ date is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date, but the flavour and texture might not be as good. You will see it on frozen, dried, tinned and other foods.

10. Freeze!

Frozen food lasts and is easier to avoid waste with – but you might think fresh food is better for your family. Much of our fruit and veg has to travel for several days to reach us and certain nutrients begin to degrade the minute the produce is picked.

Frozen veggies are “flash frozen” at the height of ripeness and nutrient content and often contain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts.

So frozen food can be fresher than fresh – and cost less too!

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