Nearly Food Waste Week

July 30, 2015

Every now and then, life treats you to opportunities that are too good to miss out on.

One evening, in a Tesco we saw 80 packs of Scotland’s finest blueberries were sat by the checkout. Priced down from £2 to 50p.

What a bargain! But, also, what a shame. Due to some logistical mess up, vast quantities of some of the loveliest seasonal fruit would shortly become rubbish, legally declared unsafe for human consumption. What a waste.

Reduced to clear

Knowing that a third of food is chucked away, how easy is it to only eat food that is likely to be wasted?

So, came about Nearly Food Waste Week. For one week, the two of us consumed only items likely to be binned. There were a few conditions. We had to write down everything eaten and we could not change our lifestyles. Finally, food had to fall under one of three categories:

1.       Items with a reduced price (not special offers)

2.       Items left over from catered events

3.       Items forgotten about in cupboards/fridges

We learned a heck of a lot from this week: about ourselves, what we eat, how much, the cost and how we react when choice is removed from our lifestyles.

So, what were the results? Well, we more than survived. Funnily enough, there is a ton of stuff available.

Firstly, reduction sticker food. Hunting this stuff down became almost religious. During our supermarket pilgrimages, we paid our respects at the shrine of the reduced-price shelf. Suddenly, decision-making became a lot easier. A product range of 7 reduced items makes it a lot simpler than 30,000.

But, you need the knowledge too. Scotmid reduce fruit and veg by 50% in the mornings. Tesco put reductions to 10% in the evenings. Fancy a sandwich at the weekend? Try a supermarket in a business district – no customers.

One thing to watch out for is a problem rife among beginners in reduction hunting – sticker guilt. We dreaded going to a manned checkout laden with goods making a loss for the business. But, soon you realise that there is no reason to be embarrassed. Funnily enough, the staff don’t care about your 6p beansprouts. And, if you really do feel the shame, this is why they invented the self-scanner.

Let’s move on to waste from catered events. It is criminal for packets of crisps to be opened and, an hour later, chucked into a black bag. This is what happens to countless sandwiches, fruit, bbqs, you name it.

However, as the staff come to clear up, 90% of the time a polite request to fill up some Tupperware is greeted with open arms and gratitude.

During this week, four meals had been catered for this way, two with wine. Don’t like crusty sandwiches? Solution: the toasty maker, turning waste into tasty snacks.

And finally, cupboard food. Anyone who cooks is bound to have a treasure trove. These items are used to accompany freshly bought items but are often sufficient to supply meals alone, with a bit of imagination. We made scones which lasted a week’s worth of snacks.

So, how much did this week cost? Well, the average price reduction was 50.6%. However, many items would not have been purchased in the first place. But, if you include the catering waste and 19 items from the cupboard and the fridge, we saved at least £50 - over half of our weekly food spend.

So, reduce food waste and reduce costs by over 50%. An opportunity not to be missed.

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