How planning ahead can save food and cut your shopping bills

Published: 24 Feb 2014

MUM-OF-THREE Sarah Hainey kept a diary for a week to see how much she could use up rather than throw out after research showed families can save an average of £40 a month with a few small changes. 
PLANNING ahead and only buying what she thinks she'll use helps mum-of-three Sarah Hainey keep food waste and shopping costs down. 
Sarah, 36, is married to health and safety manager Paul, 42, who works offshore, and the couple live in Barassie, Troon with children Emma, 11, Jodi, 10, and Andrew, five. 
An average weekly food shop costs about £40 when Paul is away - but can rise to £150 when he's home. 
Sarah said: "The main items in my weekly shop were mince, chicken breasts, bacon, eggs, grapes, apples, carrots, peppers, apples, leeks, garlic, bread, ready-made puff pastry, filled snack wraps and frozen pizza. 
"I checked the cupboards and fridge and I had lentils, spaghetti, potatoes, stock and a turnip. 
"My milk is delivered and I buy diluting juice rather than fruit juice and always keep sweetcorn and peas in the freezer. 
"For the kids' packed lunches, they'll usually have brioche rolls and Peperamis, yoghurts and fruit." 
"When Paul's away, I spend about £40 on food for a week and hardly waste anything. But when he's home the weekly shopping can rise to £150 as we'll end up having different meals to the kids as Paul is really good at cooking curries that they find too spicy. 
"Paul will go shopping too and we'll lose track of what's in the fridge so more will end up thrown out." 
"The kids had cereal for breakfast we all had bacon and eggs for brunch. 
"For dinner, I made a mince pie and served it with potatoes and sweetcorn. Potato peelings went in the recycling bin." 
Waste: 0 - peelings recycled. 
"We had cereal for breakfast and brioches, grapes/raisins for lunch. 
"I used up the rest of the mince to make spaghetti bolognese using peppers and carrots for dinner. 
"There was a portion left over so I put it in the freezer. 
"I had to throw out two bread rolls that had gone hard and half a loaf of bread from last week. I fed it to the birds, but it was still a waste." 
Waste: £1 - bread to birds 
"Breakfast was cereal and lunch was tinned spaghetti on toast and apples. 
"For dinner I used two rashers of leftover bacon from Sunday to make a lentil soup with carrots and half a turnip. Our rabbit Max ate the carrot peelings - but didn't like the turnip." 
Waste: 0 - peelings to rabbit  
"Most days the kids will have cereal for breakfast and for lunch brioches, Peperamis, grapes, raisins and an apple for lunch. 
"We ate up the leftover soup for dinner. I realised I wasn't going to get to eat the chicken breasts and I already had some in my freezer so I gave them to my gran. They weren't technically thrown away - but I didn't use them." 
Waste: £2.50 - chicken given away 
"We had our usual breakfast and lunch and because the girls go to a dance class, they had a snack of a wrap and a pizza after the class." 
Waste: 0 
"I made spaghetti carbonara for dinner with a ready sauce I already had in the cupboard. 
"There was a small amount left over, which I threw into the recycling bin. It wasn't enough to freeze. 
"I found three wrinkly apples from last week hidden under the grapes that had to go in the recycling." 
Waste: £1.50 - recycled. 
"For lunch we had tinned chicken soup that was in the cupboard and had a supper from the chippy at my gran's. 
"It was a mixture of sausages and chips, bread and butter and ­fritters - but the bread, fritter and half a sausage ended up in the r­ecycling bin." 
Waste: £3 - recycled. 
Total food waste for week: £8 
Possible total food waste over a year: £416 
Joe Queen, executive chef at The Cook School in Kilmarnock has come up with some tips to make the most of your food, waste less and help your budget: 
Plan ahead and think about using different cooking methods to reuse leftovers. 
Buy a whole chicken. You can use the bones for stock for a soup, and the chicken for different meals, either by braising it or making a chicken stew, pie or curry. 
With a piece of beef you can try braising it down, add veg to make a stew or soup or use it in a pie. 
If fruit such as pears, rhubarb or bananas are going soft, stew them with sugar then use flour and butter to make a crumble. 
Buy fruit that's in season for the best price. 
Try a one-pot dinner for ease, such as combining courgette, onion and carrots with a mix of wild rice and long grain rice and chicken or vegetable stock and tomatoes. Sear off the chicken, put on top of the rice and bake together in the oven. 
Use up leftovers and vegetables by making a soup. 
If you've leftover cheese - why not sear off a pork chop, cover it with mustard, cheese and tomato and bake in the oven. 
Use mince for a bolognese sauce, in a shepherd's pie with mashed potato, or in a pie with ready-made pastry. 
With eggs and cheese you can create an omelette. Use up peppers, onions, ham and eggs to create a Spanish omelette. 
* Find out about improving your cooking skills at www.cookschool.org 
Courtesy of the daily record: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/money-alert-how-planning-ahead-3177337

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