Ohmigod just been watching the BBC’s Great British Waste Menu all about the food we waste. It is something very close to my heart as I am a useless chef but a great scrap cook. I’d like to say it’s because I am an organised and talented person but actually it’s because I am a lazy forgetful housewife who hates shopping. The number of times I just run out of food is depressing and all that’s left are the copious quantities of overgrown courgettes from the garden and eggs from the chickens plus veg and fruit of dubious origin in the back of the fridge. I kid you not but we’ve survived on just that for a whole week until the kids begged me for meat, we then killed a chicken…
The programme was great but the thoughts I took away from it were scary and I found it difficult to get my head round it. It’s all very well saying that £10bn of food is wasted every year in this country or that that families throw out 8.3 million tonnes of food waste annually. When the figures are so big it gets difficult to grasp.
The average British Household throws away £680 worth of food each year. I wanted to know what that meant so I asked Dear Charlie, who is good at numbers, in that he can work it out quicker than me (I would have got there in the end but I might not have been able to do this post for a few days…).
Now if you tack on the fact that that money is from your taxed income it actually equates to closer to £850 of your salary if you are a normal taxpayer. The average family income is some £21,500 a year. The amount of food the average family wastes equates to 4 per cent of their annual salary. Just think if you didn’t waste any food at all then you’d have an immediate “pay rise” of 4 per cent and how chuffed would you feel about that in the current economic climate!
The thing is although I loved the programme I can see why people waste food and I think it’s down to these three things:
1. People are time poor or at least feel it: how many mothers, for it is usually them, also have to hold down full time jobs? Grief! When do they get the time to shop let alone cook?
2. People don’t know how to cook, let alone shop for food: Home economics though taught in schools to a varying degree doesn’t give our children the wherewith all to understand even the basics. It is often considered a joke by pupils or something that only the ‘thickos’ do. What is so scary is that it is so crucial for everyone. And skills and recipes for frugal cooking are being lost. We are in fact losing sight of what food is really all about. To appreciate it you really do have to reconnect with the processes from growing to killing. Perhaps then we would not be so fussy about what it looks like!
3. Labelling is downright confusing. With all the media hype about food poisoning, complicated best before, use by and sell by dates it’s no wonder people just say stuff it better safe than sorry…
So I’d thought I’d share some of my top tips to stop the old wastage and save a few pennies…
1. Do a meal planner every week!
2. Forget labels and taste/smell your food to see if it’s off.
3. Use your freezer so if you have food you haven’t eaten in your fridge and it may go off pop in to freeze! Don’t forget to label your food for the freezer or you land up like me going for a lucky dip which although exciting doesn’t necessarily make you popular with the kids when you serve them garlic chicken and pears….instead of fish fingers and chips!
Here’s a couple of great websites to check out and inspire too…