Let’s have a conversation about food waste! Did you know that according to research from sustainability charity WRAP. around 490 million pints of milk goes down the drain because it’s gone past it’s best? A pretty shocking amount, right? It’s not just milk that we’re wasting though and it seems that very few of us are exempt from wasting food, it’s a by product of how we shop, what we cook and our busy lives. If you’re anything like me you will pride yourself on being a great planner – someone who preps meals throughout the week to keep the food bill down, but also to avoid the ole habit of buying and then not using something.
I have taken part in a 2-week experiment with Arla Cravendale, to track my own buying and wasting habits, and I have to say there have been some interesting finds. I am, by nature, a planner – if you follow the blog you will see that I meal plan every week, and I’ve often spoken about the power of meal planning in conjunction with your weekly shop which I do online. I usually write my meal plan on a Thursday or a Friday, adding all of the bits that I need to buy for the week ahead to my Tesco app and then adding a few extras here and there, things like soap, deodorant and the occasional treat that someone fancies, until Sunday evening when I’m cut off.
This method of shopping isn’t accidental – in fact it’s very deliberate to ensure that I don’t fall into the trap of impulse buying. When lockdown was in full effect, we made the decision to stop booking deliveries with Tesco to free up space for those who weren’t able to get to the shop and what I noticed was that I would be very much the impulse shopper. Admittedly my impulses were on things that would be snarffled up in our house within minutes such a donuts, baked goods and pain au chocolat or other snacks for when the kids have gone to bed. Whilst this isn’t an issue, I noticed that my shopping bill increased by around £10-20 for no real, decent reason.
So, being a meticulous planner of meals and only ordering what I need with the intention of keeping cost to a minimum, I felt like there wouldn’t be much wastage in our house over the two weeks. Some may even say I was a bit smug about it. Then the time to reflect came and actually, we still waste more than I expected. There are little things like the kid’s breakfasts where they push the cereal around the bowl and then declare they have eaten all of it but there is half a pack gracing the rim like some kind of ridiculous cereal necklace or when they have gnawed the side of an apple in their lunch bag like a peckish rodent. There were also things that surprised me.
- Throughout the first week I noticed that we have a tendency to throw out a lot of half-used jars and tins.
- We have a tendency to leave the milk out after our bedtime cuppa and then have to throw it out the next day because it has gone off.
- We’re great at using up leftovers – I’m a big believer in either eating them the next day for our lunch, or giving them to the kids in the way I have been doing with their hot lunches.
- Those mid week top ups that I avoided so well during lockdown by making bread and being a bit more aware of our milk are the ones where we get a bit spenny on random stuff like a Toblerone that Adam bought on a random Tuesday afternoon. So based on those points, what can we do to really use up everything and waste not, want not even more than we already do. I spoke to a behavioural therapist who made some great suggestions for making simple behavioural changes and savvy plans that could really help me to reduce those thrown out jars.
One of the points was to get out of the box. I mentioned that I had to throw out a half used jar of green Thai curry paste and when I did I noticed that I ALWAYS end up having to throw out half of the jar because I will write my meal planner, include the paste on the shopping list, and then not cook green Thai curry again for a few weeks. So what would be out of the box – well, what else can you do with green Thai curry paste? How about making the sauce and freezing it for a very quick meal one night. How about using it to make something like a stir fry or even mushrooms on toast. When we think about what we can do with the jars and foods we forget about in our fridge it doesn’t always have to be the thing that they were purchased for.
On to the point of wasting milk, we are making the switch from using own brand milks to Arla Cravendale fresh filtered milk, which lasts 7 days opened (vs. 3 days standard fresh) and 21 days unopened (vs. 14 days standard fresh). If everyone made this simple switch, we could reduce the amount of household milk that is thrown away by around 80%! There are no additives and it isn’t UHT, it’s just fresh milk that has been filtered for purity and as such lasts longer, wasting less.
As for midweek shops, I think they are one of those almost unavoidable things that all families do, though lockdown taught me it’s absolutely possible to do without. If I do buy anything from the little mid week top up of milk and bread, I need to start asking myself do I need it and will I use it?
Did you know that Arla Cravendale has teamed up with Tesco to help consumers nationwide reduce their food waste? If you are interested in receiving a free Fridge Thermometer which can help food to make the food in your fridge last longer, buy any bottle of Cravendale in Tesco by the 28th, keep your receipt & claim at cravendalefoodwaste.co.uk. – I highly recommend it because we can all waste less and spend more on the things we love and enjoy instead of food to feed the bin.