Rich or poor, we must all spend money on everyday living expenses. Whether it be food, shelter or clothing, the costs associated with these daily essentials often eat into whatever budget we have, thereby leaving very little money for anything else at the end of the day. Sticking to a budget is difficult, and as much as we try to be thrifty and save money for a rainy day, it’s not always possible. In a world where reducing our spending and consumption sees no signs of slowing down, it can often be daunting and downright stressful. However, recent global data suggests that there is at least one way that we as a population can cut back on our spending, and that has to do with our food purchasing.
The Food Waste Problem
Year on year, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is needlessly disposed of. That equates to approximately a third of all food produced each year. When you look at this statistic in more detail, this is broken down to 45% combined fruit and vegetables, 30% cereals, 20% dairy and 20% meat. This research is shocking and begs the question: ‘Why are we buying more than we need?’
Not only is this food waste extremely careless, but it’s also uneconomical eating up a significant amount of our household budgets. In the last twenty or so years in the United States, it is believed that the poorest 20% of the population spent between 28.8% to 42.6% of their pre-tax income on food. In comparison with the UK, particularly in 2016, the average British household spent 11% of their yearly budget on food. Shockingly, lower-income families spent 17% of their annual pay on food. There is a lesson to be learned here. No matter what income you ear, there is always room for savings by reducing your weekly or monthly spend on groceries. Not only will this benefit your wallet, but will benefit the environment, too.
How You Can Make a Difference
You can simply do the obvious and buy less food, but there are other ways in which you can make significant savings to your wallet without having to drastically change your lifestyle. For example, buying locally grown fruit and vegetable is one way. There are plenty of farmer’s markets and fruit and vegetable stands throughout the UK, all offering the same quality produce, if not better, that a supermarket does. By supporting these independent stands and shops, you are encouraging local farmers and growers, and helping your wallet, too. As there are fewer costs associated due to the lack of necessity for heavy transport, it’s good for the environment, good for the seller, and good for you.
Secondly, there is always the option to purchase food with a longer-lasting expiry date. These food items tend to be similar to other mainstream products, particularly in terms of taste and appearance, which, at the end of the day, means you will be making less purchases over time.
Changing your eating habits is another way to save money, plus improve your health. If you are a regular meat eater, why not try substituting for a meat-free version of your favourite meal? Not only can this be good for your wallet, but also your health, as a reduction in red meat consumption is positive for overall cardiovascular health. There are plenty of meat-free alternatives which can be found at the supermarkets these days, from Quorn to tofu, and all with a very similar taste, texture and nutritional value to meat. It’s always a good idea to remain open-minded when it comes to food, since you never know when the next meat-free dish you stir up will become your family’s fave.
If you like to dabble with garden, then why not grow your own ingredients? It doesn’t have to be an entire field of potatoes or peas, it can be a small plot with an assortment of your favourite fruit and vegetables. Not only is this inexpensive and easy to maintain, but organic fresh produce is great for overall health. Don’t forget the importance of your 5 a day!
Take this a step further and consider composting your food. Again, this is quick and easy to do and involves your food waste being broken down, converted into nutrients, which can then be used as a fertiliser – even for your own garden. Free from chemicals and other additives, composting is a terrific way to put your food waste to beneficial use.
Take a step back and look at the amount of food waste that you are responsible for, not to mention the money that has burned a hole in your pocket and the damage to the environment. Although it may take a little effort at first, it isn’t difficult to make changes to your spending and food habits in the long run. Go on, give it a go, and once you realise the amount of money you’ve saved, you will wish you had only started sooner.