Take away the over spending on fast food to save cash

HUGE SAVINGS, on both money and food waste, can be made by keeping track of those last minute meal spends on takeaways - the seemingly easy option that busy or tired people turn to after a long day.

Research shows that households are throwing away 1.96 kg of food per day, equating to around 715kg per household every year, with a massive 19.8 bn kg of waste generated in this way across the UK annually.

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According to Statista.com, household spend on takeaways in the UK is currently around £11.2 bn per year, that equates to around £933 million in a single month.

It’s a rising figure. Over ten years, this spend on takeaways has increased by over 40 per cent.

Sam Moss, co-founder of nutritious meal subscription service STOCKED, believes this is down to becoming the ‘busiest generation ever’.

He said: “We’re living our lives at 100mph and this means finding the time to prepare meals from scratch, or even just preparing our food for the following day, is near enough impossible. It’s so easy to just grab a meal deal or order a last minute takeaway, but looking at the statistics, this clearly adds up over time."

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On top of this £933 million spent on takeaways each month, households are simultaneously wasting 1.6 million tonnes of food in the process, added Sam.

How to cut down your weekly shop:

The team recommends the following tips and hacks to cut down on that ‘last-minute meal’ spend…

Consider a subscription meal service that arrives at your door. Our busy lives make it hard to find time for a food shop, come up with creative meal ideas, and not be tempted by a meal deal here or a takeaway there. Meal subscription services are an alternative to help you be prepared for mealtimes.

Stock up your store cupboard and freezer. Store cupboard essentials have a much longer shelf life than  those that go in the fridge, so you don’t have to worry about wasting food on expiry dates.

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Pasta and rice are a go-to for many meal ideas, so make sure you’re stocked up. Vegetables, such as petit pois, stir fry veg and even the likes of spinach (which makes for a great addition to any meal or smoothie for an added iron boost) are great when purchased frozen, massively reducing waste when fresh veg is bought and not eaten in time.

There’s a common misconception that frozen veg is not as good for you as fresh. However when frozen, nutrients are contained and often, you can find more of them in the frozen veg variety research has shown.

A good tip is to have a magnetic whiteboard on your fridge with a list of foods inside that need eating quickly.

It’s advisable never to food shop when you’re hungry. If you’re craving food, your decision making process is less trustworthy. You’ll end up impulse purchasing all the quick snack options our brains crave and as a result, will spend way more on snacks and sweet treats instead of making cheaper, more nutritious choices.

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If you’re caught out and find yourself on an unplanned trip to the supermarket, with a grumbling stomach, drink some water, eat a banana or something to curb the cravings and take a breather before going in and overspending.

Set a realistic takeaway budget. There’s no need to go completely cold turkey when it comes to takeaways - it’s everything in moderation.

Set a realistic goal of how many takeaways or meal deals you want to treat yourself to within a month or even a year.

Most importantly, reward yourself when you succeed as this reinforces your motivation to carry on.

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‘Finish your plate’, but don’t over serve in the first place. As children, our parents often drilled into us the importance of having an empty plate, and rightly so.

Nobody wants to see any food waste at the end of the meal. By making sure that portions you serve up are realistic and controlled, you can ensure that nothing gets scraped into the bin afterwards.

Get creative with your leftovers. Have storage containers at the ready. Allow left overs to cool, then store properly in the freezer to allow for some quick and delicious meals, most of which may even be microwaveable.

Simply grab a wrap, cook up some rice or try something more adventurous. With the bulk of the cooking done, getting creative couldn’t be easier, and there are lots of recipes that can help.

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Made too much chilli? Why not cook up some fries, add the chilli on top, smother in cheese and jalapenos and grill and you have yourself some Dirty Chilli Cheese Fries.

Got some vegan ragu going spare? Grab a potato, make it into mash, then top the ragu with it and pop it in the oven.Super easy Vegan Shepherd’s Pie.

Set a calendar reminder to plan ahead with food. We plan our calendars when it comes to work, so why not do the same in your personal life?

Pop in 20 minutes with yourself every week to sit down and figure out your food plan. After all, health is the most important thing we have, so be sure to prioritise it.