Food Wastage UK: Why Are We Binning So Much Good Food?

We live in a country where 20,247,042 meals were given to people in food poverty between 2013/14 by the three main food aid providers, yet the total UK food wastage is as huge as ever.

50% of of the total food wastage in the UK comes from households – seven million tonnes of food slung into the bin.

The most worrying thing about that statistic is half of the food we throw away every year could still have been eaten.

So, whilst we have people sleeping rough, hungry on the streets, elderly people and low income earners deciding whether to heat or eat and people struggling to make ends meet on benefits living on the breadline, we’re casually throwing away an average of £470 worth of food a year.

That average rises to £700 for a family with children – the equivalent of over £60 a month!

When you reach the point where as a country you’re throwing away more food than packaging, things have got to change.

Maybe we’ve just become too spoiled with an abundance of fresh food from all over the world at our disposal.

Seasonal selection has well and truly gone, the world is much more connected.

But, isn’t it time we got back to the old days on this one?

My grandparents ran their kitchen like a head chef runs theirs – nothing, and I mean NOTHING, went to waste!

Grandma made beautiful meals out of what most of us would consider rubbish.

They were from a generation that had food rations and had a totally different mentality to food wastage compared to most people today.

Below you’ll find some tips on how to massively reduce your food wastage and save yourself a few quid in the process.

Meal plans

Making meal plans helps to really cut down on food wastage, purely because it gets you organised in the kitchen.

They stop you from buying ingredients you don’t need, and if you cook using similar ingredients it stops you from throwing out fresh fruit and veg that has gone past its best.

Jack H and Jack C from Five Year Target have come up with an ingenious way to construct a meal plan.

They have made themselves a folder with their meal plan for the week, along with the shopping list they’ll need to make it.

It helps to keep them focused on what they are spending by working out the cost per portion and reduces their waste – go and check it out!

The Freezer is your best friend

You can freeze way more food than most people think.

Get into the habit of freezing ingredients and left overs.

Not only does it stop you from wasting food by letting it go past its best before date, you also have a few tasty homemade meals to grab when you want off a night off cooking.

If you’re unsure what you can and can’t freeze, a quick check on Google will put your mind at ease.

Stock control

Sounds simple, but it’s one of the main reasons for food wastage.

Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you set off shopping so you’re not buying stuff you’ve already got.

Use up everything by cooking smart

There are lots of smart phone apps that can help you to use up all the ingredients you find left in your fridge.

Enter the ingredients you have and they will match you up to a recipe on their database.

Not only do they help you to prevent food wastage, they also open your eyes to new tasty recipes you might not have tried before.

My personal favourites are:

  • BigOven
  • Food Network in the Kitchen
  • Yummly
  • Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
  • Cookpad
  • Epicurious

Batch cook

I love batch cooking.

It allows you to use all the ingredients you have in one go, preventing any wastage.

It also means you have lots of tasty homemade meals stocked up for those days when you just want to come home, eat and relax without the hassle of cooking.

Final word

Wasting upwards of £700 a year on good food that could have been eaten is insane.

As with most things in life, preparation is key.

It doesn’t take much time and effort and by planning your meals and being conscious of waste you’re sure to save a ton of money!

Do you have any tips to cut down on food wastage?


Thinking Thrifty

Thinking Thrifty

David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
Thinking Thrifty
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6 thoughts on “Food Wastage UK: Why Are We Binning So Much Good Food?

  1. You’re absolutely right! I agree with you 100%! We don’t throw any food in the bin for practical and ethical reasons. We use many of your tips. I wasn’t aware of the apps though. Very good to know!

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