Monday, 24 January 2011

Tips on saving money on food and waste prevention

On £123 a week it's a tough ask to make and eat decent food and sometimes I just didn't manage it, especially in the early days.

Having worked in food for years, there is a part of me that cannot abide waste and a part that is fanatical about food safety so in this spirit, I thought I'd share something I've been doing to ensure I don't waste foods like yoghurt by opening it then throwing it away.

Now this might sound stupid but after having a baby my memory is shot to pieces.  I suspect it's the sleep deprivation but all I do is use a permanent pen and write on the pack when it was opened.  It means I no longer have any doubts on the food safety side and also I suspect I often threw away open packs of food as I'd forgotten when I'd opened them.

My other food safety tip is buy a fridge thermometer.  Many domestic fridges are at 10 degrees or more when the ideal temperature is around 4 or 5 (certainly less than 8).  If your fridge is cold (not too cold so you freeze your lettuce) you're much less likely to get food spoiling before the use by date.

My last organisational tip is frankly supermarket shopping is a pain with a baby and I can't see it getting easier any time soon.  Sure people say to do online shopping but I found it would take me just as long and I'd then not get a break as I'd do it during his naps and putting the shopping away was no easier; especially if they "ran out of bags" (which seemed to happen with alarming regularity).

Anyway, so there's no substitute for being quick around the supermarket.  Write a list; this helps avoid overspending and also if you know the layout it can speed you up; no nipping back for that thing you forgot.  Then when you get to the checkout, put the items on in this order; frozen, chilled, veg, shelf stable.  Pack the items in that order in separate bags then when you get to your boot, put the frozen and chilled stuff on one side (I put them on the right), veg in the middle and shelf stable on the left.  Then, if you get home and your little one is upset you can prioritise putting away the frozen and chilled with them on your hip knowing the veg will be ok for a few hours if you need to leave it and the rest can wait till bedtime if needs be.  Also if your baby is breastfed and crying for food as you go round, I have found the changing rooms are useful places for a quick feed if you're not confident feeding in public.

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