Checking cupboards and fridges more often and making shopping lists has led to the amount of food waste in the home falling by a third during lockdown, a new survey has found.
The survey of 5,000 UK adults was done by Wrap, the UK’s leading waste charity, and found people are wasting around a third less potatoes, bread, chicken and milk – the four most commonly wasted foods – compared to pre coronavirus levels.
The figures come despite the fact people are buying more of those items, Wrap said, showing that households are becoming more resourceful in managing food and menus. Shopping habits have shifted towards shopping less often but buying more items, alongside home behavioural changes such as better planning.
On average, individuals identified six new behaviours that are contributing to lower waste. Almost half of those surveyed said they are checking their cupboards and fridge more before they shop, and one in three are taking more time to check where food should be stored.
Other new actions included freezing more food, saving leftovers, batch cooking and making a shopping list.
The charity hopes that the ‘new normal’ around behaviours leading to reduced food waste will continue after the pandemic, with huge potential savings in greenhouse gases and food bills. Wasted food is estimated to cost the average family around £700 a year, according to Wrap, and it emits millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases if it reaches landfill.
“In this sustained period of uncertainty, UK citizens have shown how resilient they can be when it comes to managing their food,” said Wrap chief executive, Marcus Glover. “These actions should mean less food goes to waste, helping take the pressure off the supply chain and reducing the number of trips we need to make to the shops – or deliveries to our homes.”
Despite the positive drop in wasting food, the survey also identified several knowledge gaps around how best to store some fresh produce and reduce waste further. Almost half of those asked believe that apples last for longest if they are stored at room temperature out of the original packaging, but in fact they can last much longer in the fridge in the original packaging.
Almost 40 per cent of people believe food such as chicken breasts must be frozen on the day of purchase, when in fact these can be frozen up to the ‘use by’ date, giving people more flexibility.
“It’s so encouraging to see this uptake in good food behaviours, especially during challenging times,” said Helen White, special advisor for household food waste at the campaign, Love Food Hate Waste. “We’ve got really helpful resources on the Love Food Hate Waste website, from recipe suggestions to our storage guide and fridge thermometer checker.”