How food waste impacts your finances - M4Money Credit Union

We’ve all been there: you buy fresh produce with great intentions, only to find it wilting in the fridge days later. Or you cook a big meal and end up throwing out the leftovers. While it might seem minor, food waste actually has a significant impact on your finances. Let’s break it down.

The hidden costs of food waste

  • Wasted Money: Tossing food means tossing money. If you spend £100 on groceries each week and waste 10%, that’s £10 gone. Over a year, that’s more than £500 that could have been saved or spent elsewhere.
  • Increased Grocery Bills: When you waste food, you need to replace it, leading to more trips to the store and higher grocery bills. Meal planning and buying only what you need can help reduce this unnecessary expense.
  • Energy and Resource Loss: Growing and producing food requires energy, water, and labour. Wasting food means wasting these resources, which drives up costs that get passed on to consumers through higher prices.
  • Hidden Environmental Costs: Food waste contributes to environmental issues, leading to indirect financial impacts. For instance, food in landfills produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Addressing these environmental challenges can result in higher taxes and increased costs for goods and services.

How to save money on food

  1. Plan Your Meals: Reduce waste by planning your meals. Create a shopping list based on your actual needs and stick to it to avoid impulse buys that might spoil.
  2. Understand Expiration Dates: “Best by” and “use by” dates can be confusing. Often, food is safe to eat after these dates. Use your senses—look, smell, and taste—before discarding food.
  3. Store Food Properly: Proper storage can extend food’s shelf life. Keep your fridge at the right temperature and store fruits and vegetables in their ideal spots.
  4. Get Creative with Leftovers: Instead of tossing leftovers, repurpose them into new meals. Many recipes can turn yesterday’s dinner into today’s lunch or another delicious dish.
  5. Compost: If you have unavoidable food waste, composting can return nutrients to the soil. While it doesn’t directly save you money, it reduces your environmental impact, which can have long-term financial benefits.

The Big Picture

Wasting food equals wasting money. By changing how we shop, store, and consume food, we can save significant amounts of money over time. Plus, reducing food waste is beneficial for the environment, which ultimately helps everyone. So next time you’re about to throw out leftovers or a slightly bruised apple, consider the impact on your wallet and the planet. With a little effort, we can all make a big difference.