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Food waste: Put money towards bills not in the bin

An out-of-date yoghurt, some manky salad leaves, maybe some leftovers. It’s not uncommon for these to end up in the bin. All small things that don’t cost much – at least individually. Combined, the annual cost of wasted food is the same as your gas bill.

The average family throws away £700 worth of food each year. That’s roughly the same as the average gas bill in the UK, which the government says is £714 a year. A staggering amount of cash you wouldn’t knowingly chuck in the bin. Yet many of us do just that by buying more food than we need or not paying attention to use-by-dates.

The size of the problem

Food waste campaigning group WRAP estimates 63% of all food waste is avoidable, yet Sainsbury’s found shoppers think they only throw away 10% of their food.

More than a third (37%) of people never reuse leftovers according to the Sainsbury’s “Modern Life is Rubbish” report. That’s despite three quarters of people saying they’re confident cooking meals from leftovers.

A similar amount (30%) admit they shop for food without checking the fridge, potentially buying things they’ve already got, and the same number go shopping without a list of what they need.

Shows like the Great British Bake Off don’t help either, with 86% of shoppers buying ingredients for a specific recipe and struggling to use them again.

Better uses for the cash

With budgets tight for so many families, an extra £700 in the bank could make a huge difference. Whether it’s paying some of the bills, going towards debts, or freeing up cash for holidays, Christmas and little luxuries that would otherwise be unaffordable.

Ways frugal food bloggers cut their food waste

We’ve had a few top frugal food bloggers write for us, and they each shared their top tips to avoid throwing away food.

Blogger Thrifty Lesley recommended meal planning.

“Have a look in your cupboards, freezer etc when deciding what to have for dinner this week. Plan to use what you already have, topping up with only what you need to make the dishes.”

Frugal Queen makes the most of her freezer.

“[I]… buy a lot of frozen products such as mixed veg, bags of singular veggies, frozen fruit and individually frozen fish fillets so I can use part of a bag -  or most of a bag - and still pop it back in the freezer to use another time.”

Faith Archer always goes shopping with a list.

“It might just be a few scribbles on the back of an envelope, or a memo on my phone. But writing shopping lists has saved me time, money and wasted food. It helps to stop me doubling up on food we already have, cut back on extra top up shops for the food I’ve forgotten, and avoid expensive extras slipping into my shopping trolley.”

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