How to save a third on your food bill

woman-serving-food-without-wasteHands up who throws food away each week?

If you’re anything like the average person here in the UK you’ll throw away one third of the food you buy.

Stop and think about that for a moment: that’s like coming home from the store with 6 bags of shopping and putting 2 of them straight into the bin.

Crazy right?

Well yes it is, and that is what most of us are doing. For todays’ carbon fast we’ve been asked to think about our food waste. The suggestion for the day reads:

“Notice what food you throw away this week. See if you can reduce it by a third. Eat leftovers and shop more carefully using a list and planning your meals. The amount of food thrown away by an average household adds the equivalent CO2 emissions of 1-5 cars.”

Knowledge is power and I know from my own research that few people claim to throw away food. Most people say “I never have any”. But ask them to take a careful inventory of what they waste each week and the conflict become apparent. No one wants to admit to wasting food, especially when we are aware of people starving in parts of the world, but the reality is, we do.

Food is almost a disposable commodity in our country. We no longer value it, we are so far removed from it unless we grow it ourselves, so we don’t think twice about buying too much and letting it rot.

Here are my top tips for reducing food waste:

Use leftovers

At Chez Green we don’t have leftovers, we have ingredients. Start viewing your foods in this way and see what meals you can create. Some of our family favourites have been created by ‘accident’.


A simple step we often forget is to plan our meals and write shopping list. I’m not a great menu planner and I envy those who are good at it, but before you shop check your fridge, fruit bowl and vegetable racks then plan a few meals around the food you already have.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry

If you’re hungry when you enter the shop you’ll buy stuff you don’t need. The smell of the bakery will lure you and the ‘3 for the price of 2’ will be too much to bear. Have a snack before you shop and you’ll be more level headed!

Portion control

Do you know how much a portion of rice or pasta is? Uncooked, it can look alarmingly small but once cooked it can look like a mountain. I’m not one for faffing around with scales in the kitchen, but give yourself a visual from time to time on what a portion of raw rice looks like so you don’t overcook.

Self service

At home I never put food on the plates; I let people help themselves to how much they can eat with the knowledge they can come back for more if still hungry. This means you avoid food that has been pushed around the plate and would end up as food waste. Anything untouched from the serving dishes can be refrigerated and used again tomorrow.

What could you do to reduce food waste this week?


  1. Lobma on March 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Yes, 100% Mrs Green. Reuse all food is essential. There are so many wonderful recipes that can be made from what is in the fridge. In fact some of our most memorable means have come from using remains. I have a recipe I cut out of one of the Sunday papers years ago, called Remains of the Day, it’s just basically, refried potatoes, any old greens, other vegetables that have been saved and old meat, fried all together in water with some added gravy powder, delicious!

    Supermarkets be the villains here by their waste, we don’t have to be.

  2. Mrs Green on March 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    @Lobma: Hey 🙂 Yep, some of our favourite meals were accidents created from leftovers ! Remains of the day sounds fab and what a great title LOL!

  3. Joddle on August 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    My top tip for reducing food waste is to do a daily shop. I live in the centre of London so I can do this easily. A typical daily shop will be something like 4 loose tomatoes, one onion, one carrot!

    I have good local shops I can buy loose veg from and for basics like toilet roll and tinned stuff (which I rarely use) I do a big shop every couple months.

    I call my food shopping habit the ‘Empty Fridge Lifestyle’

  4. Mrs Green on August 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    @Joddle: that’s an interesting idea Joddle as most people think planning for a week is a good way to reduce waste, but I can certainly see how your method works if shops are local. Thanks for sharing the link