Jenny Lowes offers advice on boxing clever with meal planning.
With household bills rocketing, we are all trying to save money where we can.
Shockingly, an average family throws away £720 a year of food that was bought but was never eaten, so it really is worth thinking about the food we buy and how we store it.
In my home, we have changed the way we shop since Covid and lockdown. The boredom of the same repetitive meals being cooked each week began to get too tiresome. Through the power of social media and targeted ads, I was offered many introductory incentives if we joined up to one of the box deliveries where you choose three or four recipes each week and they deliver all the ingredients and recipe cards to make the dishes.
If you’re a well organised person who likes to look through cook books, has a good repertoire of recipes and enjoys browsing the aisles then this probably isn’t for you. I do not enjoy thinking about what we are going to have for tea every night – definitely a chore not a pleasure for me. And, with three vegetarians in the house and one meat eater, it normally means at least two dishes.
So, I am now in the habit of switching from one box provider to another. I close the account and wait for another offer to be sent while I use the other company and so on. I don’t think I have ever paid full price and probably would never order at full price. So the trip to the supermarket is now swift and cheap, with just the breakfast and lunch basics – and no random vegetables are left sitting in the bottom drawer.
Some will say the boxes have too much packaging and that they prefer to shop in the local greengrocers and buy items loose. That’s definitely the best option for some, but I am pragmatic in my approach to being green and eating healthier as a family.
The packaging has reduced and we can now recycle the soft plastic film at the supermarkets, and everyone in North Yorkshire can recycle cardboard at the kerbside.
It’s not for everyone, but you can make it work if you are good at making deals work for you – and you definitely won’t be throwing as much food away.
Three useful free apps to get for your phone are Olio, Refill and Too Good to Go.
Olio enables communities to share food and waste less by offering free food to others. Open the Oilo website.
Refill shows you where you can refill your water bottle for free. Open the Refill website.
Too Good To deals with surplus food from restaurants, cafes and stores. At the end of the day, places offer whatever they have as magic bags, you find a bag near you and then turn up at the store at a given time to collect and take the food for a small amount of money (typically between £3 and £5). Morrisons, Spar, Starbucks, Co-op, Londis, Costa, Café Nero, One Stop, Costcutter, Toby Carvery, Greggs and other independent shops and butchers have all signed up. Open the Too Good To Go website.
In our next issue: holiday food waste saving tips.