Here are 8 simple ways to help you reduce food waste and save money
1. ALWAYS, always write a staples list – Take some time and note down what items you always go back to. Think of staples categories that you can switch up: e.g. fruits, nuts, protein source of choice that you can change every time you do your food shopping. Use apps like Google Keep and Evernote that let you set up ticklists for every grocery trip.
2. Don’t over do the meal prep – You might think it’s a great idea to meal prep for an entire week or more – it saves time, saves money and it’s healthy for me! However planning too ahead of time will lead to food waste. Yes! Because you can never plan for those impromptu dinner dates and business lunches during the week – next thing you know, that nicely packed lunchbox sitting in your fridge for 3 days NEEDS to go. And what if you get bored after eating grilled chicken and veggies for 6 DAYS in a role?! Whilst meal prepping is great to save time and money, take a balance between efficiency and pleasure – be realistic so you avoid having pre-made meals put to waste.
3. Buy in bulk sensibly – The key again is to be conscious and reasonable. Buying in bulk saves a lot of packaging waste, is usually lower in price and it also means fewer trips to the groceries store – but don’t forget to check the expiry dates of whatever item you are buying – if you can’t finish it before it goes bad, you are not doing any good to the environment either! Grains like rice and cereals can often be kept a long period of time, but you should never buy items like milk in 2L carton, or nuts to fill up your huge mason jar just because it’s cheaper.
4. Shop around store closing time – Often you will find discounted items that would simply go to waste if no one wants them by the end of the night. Some places also do goodie bags around closing time that you can grab in a crazy discounted price – check out Too Good to Go (TGTG), an easy-to-use app that lets you order and collect take-away meals around your location up to an hour before their closing time. This way you save money, you reduce food waste, and you get a nice meal for a fraction of the normal price!
5. Be creative with snacks – It might not be that noticeable, but your mindless 3pm snacking on crisps and bars are adding up to your food budget. Instead of buying pre-packaged snacks, get creative and make your own – prepare your own trail mix, bring them with you in food containers, snack on fruits, bake your own flavour of crisps… you name it! It’s also a great way to relax and spend some creative time in the kitchen when you have few hours to spare in the weekend.
6. Invest in good-quality food containers – We all know what disposable plastic food containers and packaging do to the environment. Rather than spending money on take-aways and to-go meals, it’s better in the long run to invest in reusable food containers. I urge you to go pick out the most aesthetically pleasing glassware/tupperware/food tumbler you can find (…and realistically afford). There’s just something about pretty dining ware that makes packing your meals that much more enjoyable. Start bringing it to work, to school, and to restaurants when you know you simply won’t be able to finish the meal!
7. Eat more wholefoods – The less processed a food item is, the less packaging it requires. This also means that a larger % of the produce itself is being consumed rather than thrown away – think of a whole apple and a bag of dried apple chips. The more you incorporate wholefoods to your diet, the less harm you are doing to the environment – let’s also not forget how much healthier it is for you!
8. Try to consume less meat – ChooseVeg gives a nice overview of all the great benefits you bring to the environment when you go meatless. Whilst vegetarianism / veganism is not for everyone, consuming less meat helps to reduce carbon emissions, saves water and other natural resources. Money wise, meat-heavy diets are also relatively more expensive compared to a plant-based diet – if you’re hoping to save money and do something good for the earth, try and challenge yourself by going meatless once or twice per week.
It’s really not that hard to change up a few of your habits and reduce waste – you’ll also be surprised how much money you can save up. I personally find a staples list to be extremely helpful, and I now only do meal prepping for 2-3 portions ahead. At the end of the day it all depends on your lifestyle, your mindset and what better choices you can make everyday.
I hope you find these tips useful, and let me know what you think!