Not buying things you don't need sounds obvious but it's all too easy when shopping to add impulse items. Decide the meals you want for the week and write a list of everything you need. We have a ‘B’ family WhatsApp group specially for food shopping. As we run out of staples or think of something we need, we’ll add it to the group chat as a reminder.
If you prefer to take a more fluid approach to planning meals, try taking a photo of your cupboard contents (a ‘shelfie’) to refer to when out shopping to avoid doubling up on items.
We also order the items on our list based on the shop layout. Now, this may sound a bit of a faff but it means a) the shop takes less time and b) we're less likely to end up in isles we don't need to be in. And don’t make the boo-boo of shopping while hungry… hungry shopping makes it even more difficult to avoid those tempting snacky treats.
When you get your food home, check the use by dates and plan your meals with these in mind to avoid any food going out of date.
Storing your food
With lots of reusable alternatives on offer, there's really no need for single use storage. From Tupperware to silicon lids to repurposed takeaway containers to wax food wraps.
We're big fans of our beeswax food wraps. Made from natural ingredients, washable between uses and compostable when they're finally done (they last about a year), they’re a great eco-friendly way to keep your food fresh. You can wrap them directly around foods (blocks of cheese, ends of half chopped fruit or veg, sandwiches, bread loaves etc) and they've got a good cling to them so work well for covering bowls and dishes too. Plus, they’re happy in the fridge or freezer.
Only buy what you need, packaging free - the epitome of zero waste shopping! Loose food businesses that sell staple foods like pasta, rice, herbs and pulses by the weight are popping up all over the UK. Our local food refill businesses (Pantry Refill and Lonely Lentil) have also started doorstep deliveries. Who said shopping consciously wasn’t convenient!
Can it be saved?
There are lots of simple ways to help your food last longer and save it from the point of no return, here are some of our faves:
- Wizz stale bread into breadcrumbs or cube into croutons – freeze until you’re ready to use.
- Veggies on the turn? Soup!
- To help your carrots last longer, chop their leafy tops off when you first get them home.
- Carrots starting to soften? Bring back to life by popping them in some water.
- Lettuce wilting? Spruce up in cold water.
- Broccoli looking a bit sorry for itself? This is another of your 5-a-day you can save with water - simply trim the ends and soak in water.
- Eggs running out of time? Hard boil to give them a couple more days.
- Browning bananas? Perfect for banana bread.
The OLIO mobile app works by connecting neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away.