4 sustainable food tips to save you money and energy

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For customers

Having a sustainable approach to food could help you save money, live healthier and help the environment in the long run. It doesn’t have to be complicated – often a small change in your routine is enough to make a difference. From how you shop to what you eat, here’s some ideas to get you started. 

1. Make your own food 

Making your own food can be cheaper and healthier than buying a ready meal. The price of ready meals is often more expensive due to the additional costs of being pre-made. There are environmental benefits too. By avoiding processed foods, you can avoid the extra packaging that ends up in landfills and have the option to choose items that don’t contain ingredients known to have negative environmental impacts, such as palm oil.

How you cook could make a big difference. Batch cooking and freezing for example can be time and cost effective. Instead of cooking every night, you could make a big batch in one go, divide it into portions and freeze it – saving you valuable time when it comes to prepping, cooking, and washing up.

With a tasty meal ready to go, you might be less tempted to order a costly takeaway or grab an off-the-shelf product from the supermarket, when you’re short of time or are feeling too tired to cook. At the end of 2020, the average weekly household spend on takeaway meals was £5.60. This is likely to have changed due to inflation but cutting down to just one a month in favour of home-cooking, could save you over £220 a year.1

And if you use a microwave to reheat your pre-prepared meal, it could be more energy efficient compared to a hob or the oven.  

2. Buy in bulk 

Buying things in bulk could save you money as items are usually cheaper per gram or per litre. A current supermarket search online for penne pasta shows a 500g bag that costs 70p would be £1.40 per kg, while purchasing a 3kg bag for £3.30 – even though it costs more upfront – is only £1.10 per kg.2

Bulk buying can also help the environment in a small way, as there’s usually less packaging. New zero-waste and packaging-free food shops are opening across the country, giving you an option to bulk-buy goods like pasta, pulses and more – completely package-free.

Although you might associate bulk buying with items being on offer in supermarkets – you could use this approach to take advantage of lower prices on fresh ingredients when they’re in season. Just make sure you have enough room to store everything and to use it before it goes out of date. 

3. Plan ahead to reduce food waste 

The average family could save £720 a year by reducing their food waste.3 Meal planning can be a good way to achieve this. By knowing what you’re going to cook ahead of time, you can shop for the right amount of ingredients you need, and not lose money by buying unnecessary items or throwing away food you haven’t used.

Using apps such as Too Good To Go and OLIO could also help your bank balance while saving food from landfill. Too Good To Go allows retailers such as supermarkets, cafes and restaurants to package up their food which would go to waste and sell it at a discount. OLIO, meanwhile, allows people to share surplus food from their own cupboards. Whether it’s a surplus of vegetables or extra bread – you can use it to request free food from other people or use it to list any food which is nearing its sell by date too. 

4. Change what you eat 

When cooking at home, processed meat such as bacon and sausages can add significant cost to our budget – an average of £385 a year (compared with £234 on vegetables). So, even going meat-free once a week can make a difference to your bank balance.1 Going fully meat-free could save you even more, an Oxford study found that in high-income countries like the UK, a fully vegan diet reduced food costs up to one-third, with vegetarian diets a close second.4

Meat and dairy production also emit significantly more greenhouse gases such as methane, compared to vegetables. Producing just one quarter-pound beef burger, uses enough energy to power an iPhone for 6 months and enough water to fill 10 bathtubs.5 Swapping out that burger for a meat-free option one day a week could save the equivalent emissions of driving 348 miles in a car.5 Small changes can lead to big impact.   

Small changes can lead to big impact

Sometimes a small change in lifestyle choices is all it takes to make significant savings to our finances over time. The changes we make could also have a bigger collective impact on the environment, and so it’s important we all play our part towards shaping a more sustainable future.

Outside of food choices, there are other steps you could consider to reduce your environmental impact. From recycling more and using your car less – to exploring how your pension and other savings could make a positive environmental influence. 

For more news and insights to support your financial goals, visit our Customer Perspectives hub.

 

Sources: 

1 Family spending workbook 1: detailed expenditure and trends, tab A1, row 36, 38, 80 and 650. Data source, Office for National Statistics, 2020 edition.

2 Search on Asda.com for ‘pasta’. Data source, Asda.com, March 2022.

3 It all adds up. Data source, Love Food Hate Waste, March 2022.

4 The global and regional costs of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns: a modelling study (page e800-e801). Data source, Lancet Planet Health, November 2021.

5 The benefits of Meatless Monday. Data source, Monday Campaigns and John Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, March 2022.