Smart strategies for saving money and minimising food waste this January…

Tuesday Jan 02, 2024

Every day, staggering amounts of food are needlessly discarded worldwide, creating a colossal problem with devastating consequences: food waste. So if you’re going to make any New Year resolutions for 2024, why not make it to cut down on food waste and help save some money in the process?

This issue transcends mere leftovers forgotten on plates; it’s a systemic problem that permeates every level of the food supply chain, posing significant economic, social, and environmental challenges.

The sheer scale of food waste is alarming. Across the globe, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption—nearly 1.3 billion tons annually—ends up wasted! This surplus, if redistributed efficiently, could easily feed the millions suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

One of the primary contributors to this crisis lies within our households. Often, food is discarded due to confusion over expiration dates, purchasing more than needed, or simply overlooking items buried in the back of refrigerators.

To prevent food waste within your household, keep your store cupboard stocked up with essential ingredients from your local Co-op and you’ll always have the basis for plenty of delicious, quick meals, without spending loads of money on food that will ultimately end up in the bin!

With a few of these long-life foods to hand, you’ll never be far from a satisfying meal.

We’ve come up with some recipes to show you how easy it is — just add a few fresh ingredients.

  • Chickpeas – Drained and rinsed from the tin, with no need for a colander, these can bulk out dishes.
  • Chopped tomatoes – A staple ingredient found in everything from pasta sauces and soups to stews and curries.
  • Dried herbs – If you only need a little, use dried herbs insteadof fresh. They’ll last longer and cost less.
  • Marmalade – This brings flavour and depth to stews.
  • Hot sauce – Drizzle over eggs, stir into soups or spoon on your favourite meat and veg as a condiment.
  • Rice – Cheap and filling, rice works as the main event, such as risotto or biriyani, or as a side.
  • Canned tuna – Mix it with mayo for a sandwich or dress it with oil and vinegar as part of a salad.
  • Dried spaghetti – Simply boil, then toss with pasta sauce.
  • Pesto – Spread on sandwiches, mixed into pasta or spooned into soup, a little goes a long way.
  • Olive oil – The best meals start with this ingredient, whether you’re roasting veggies, frying an onion or mixing a salad dressing.
  • Balsamic vinegar – Buy the best quality you can afford — you’ll notice the difference in your cooking.
  • Dried chilli –  A tiny pinch of chilli flakes — simmered in or sprinkled over — will spice up any dish.
  • Curry paste –  This gives you a tasty curry in a fraction of the time it takes to prepare from scratch.
  • Butter beans – Stewed whole, mashed with butter or blitzed for a dip, butter beans are cheap and brilliant!
  • Mustard – This classic condiment can take a dish to the next level, and you don’t need to use much.
  • Egg noodles – Quick and cheap, these soak up flavour.


TOP TIP: Plan ahead
Know what you’re going to buy at the shop. Add things you need on your phone or on a pad in the kitchen throughout the week. Take a photo of your fridge before you go to the shop so you don’t double up.


Tips to save money this January (and beyond!)

  1. Making use of your freezer will save you a shed load in the long run. The trick is to always freeze things in portions, and check food packaging to see what’s freezable.
  2. Try a ‘Too Good to Go’ bag. Find out more here
  3. Look out for products in store that have been reduced
  4. Write a shopping list before going food shopping – and try not to deviate from it.
  5. Plan your meals for the week and buy the ingredients accordingly
  6. Don’t obsess over best before dates– just use your eyes, your nose and your common sense.
  7. Shop for the season – It’s not just about health advantages, eating food that is in season ensures you get the best flavour. By choosing ingredients that are naturally in season, you will get fresher, sweeter and perfectly ripe produce that tastes better. It also might be cheaper as it’s not had to travel far!
  8. Invest in a slow cooker – even the cheapest of meats taste amazing when they’ve been cooked for 12 hours. They are also cheaper to run than a traditional oven. Check out our range in our Quadrant Department Stores.
  9. Take your shopping bags with you – Not only is it a waste of money to buy them every time you shop, but they’re bad for the environment too.
  10. Look for budget ranges – try our honest value range in stores.