How To NOT Waste Food: The Kitchen Cupboard Challenge

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Welcome to my How To NOT Waste Food Kitchen Cupboard Challenge. This month on Recipe This is all about an experiment about how to not waste food and to make use of what you already have in your kitchen cupboards.

But first let’s go back to the beginning and talk about us and what food we did used to waste. You see when I got married we had it all. We had a nice house, a toddler plus a houseful of food.

We are not just talking a little food either; we had absolutely loads of it. The freezer would be full to bursting thanks to monthly grocery shopping at Aldi & Farm Foods (all processed foods though I am sure you have guessed that) on top of this Dominic worked in a meat factory at the time so he was always bringing home reduced price premium beef.

Then there were cupboards full of baked beans and other pantry style essentials.

We would end up chucking quite a lot of food because we just didn’t eat it all and we probably put £20 of food in the bin each week.

But we were not rich; we were just badly educated and didn’t look after the money we spent on groceries.

Nowadays we get depressed at the thought that a tiny bit of mouldy lettuce couldn’t get used. Yet we look at how far we have come and are amazed at A) how much we spend on grocery shopping B) how little food waste we actually have.

We spend about 225€ a month on our groceries. Not only does that feed the two of us, our teenager (teenage boys eat a LOT of food), our toddler daughter and our baby, but it also covers all the pet food and cleaning and toiletries too.

Back in the day when we did waste food, we ate badly (way too much processed foods) and spent around 450€ a month.

If we can change then so can anybody else and this month is all about that… read on…

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How To NOT Waste Food

First of all if you are like my younger self then the first thing you need to do is decide how you are going to combat your own waste problems.

Usually, the biggest reason for food waste is on of the following:

You eat out a lot – Often you will eat out a lot or have takeaways when you are too tired to cook. Yet you don’t plan for this when you do your grocery shopping. You will buy for 7 main meals a week, yet if you eat out for 4 of those then there will be a lot of food leftover that gets wasted.

You don’t write a shopping list – do you ever wonder around the supermarket after a long day at work and grab things because they look good? Well this is how a lot of people shop. What you should really be doing is planning your meals ahead of time and then writing a shopping list out, then if it is not on the list you don’t buy it.

You don’t audit – All households should do a stock take before they go shopping. Otherwise you will end up forgetting important things and mass buying things that you didn’t realise that you already had in. This also means that if you got some extra meat and have it stored in the freezer then it can become one of your main meals.

And trust me if you do just those 3 things then you can seriously cut your shopping bill and not waste food at the same time.

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How To NOT Waste Food

First of all if you are like my younger self then the first thing you need to do is decide how you are going to combat your own waste problems.

The first thing to do is start it as from today. Before you go shopping for more groceries have a look through your cupboard and see what you already have, that is close to its best before date and have these as your mission first.

For example you could start with the following:

Go in your fridge right now – Check out all the fresh ingredients that you have in your fridge, check best before dates and see what you need to use right now. If you have more cheese then you can handle, then grate it into bags and freeze it for later. If you have fresh fruit and vegetables that are looking old plan to use them up today.

Plan 7 days of meals – Next plan meals for the next week using up things that you have that are going to go off. Anything that can be frozen then freeze and then use everything else up.

Plan for the next month – After you have done this look at the next month of what cupboard food needs using up and then plan a menu around them. When you write up your shopping list have these items on your mind. If you have loads of chicken breast then plan lots of casseroles and one pot dishes that are easy to make. Then bulk up your leftovers with fresh vegetables and carbs.

Predict future use – Last on the list is to check what you normally use (rather than what you buy now) and reduce your grocery shopping bill so that you are not wasting money and are getting value for money!

How We Avoided NOT Wasting Food

So we tend to be pretty good at not having food waste. Call it years of practice and the fact that we would rather save money towards holidays and eating out than wasting it to food going in the rubbish bin.

But of course nobody is perfect and even though we are better than we used to be we are far from perfect. We had a good look through all of our cupboards to see where we had food that was close to going off and made a list.

We found some vegetables that were looking past its best in the bottom of the fridge. They ended up as soup for dinner that night = problem solved!

The other thing we found was loads of coconut sugar and loads of dried herbs that were within 90 days of their best before date. The plan with those was to use them in loads of recipes. Recipes were we didn’t need to buy more goods in to use them, but where we could have some fun at the same time.

So keep an eye out for our leftover recipes over the next few days!

It also taught us to keep an eye out of the best before dates of cupboard food as they never last forever!

How To NOT Waste Food In Summary

In summary we wanted to share with you our top resources for not wasting food and to get the most out of the food that you have got and stretching your groceries that little bit further.

Over the next month you are going to see a whole range of ideas and we will be starting off with leftovers from our own cupboards.

I have also added a few extra links to help you out:

Though on a final note – we hope you enjoy our anti waste month and that it inspires you to save money by wasting less food.

Meet The Milners

Samantha and Dominic

Dominic & Samantha Milner are the founders of They love cooking, blogging and being full time parents to their three food obsessed kids. They cook with their kitchen gadgets everyday and love sharing their homemade recipes. Their favourite foods include chocolate, air fryer burgers and macaroni cheese. You can learn more about them here or you can sign up for their free newsletter here.

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