Monday, 19 June 2017

7 Top Tips to Canny Food Shopping for One or Two

7 Top Tips to Canny Food Shopping for One or Two
There has been a lot of debate in the news over the last few years about the amount of food waste generated by supermarket “saver” deals such as buy one, get one free. Figures reported in 2013 in the UK indicated that:
Food Waste Graph
Food Waste

  • 67% of bagged salad leaves
  • 50% of bakery goods 
  • 25% of grapes
  • 40% of bananas and apples
are discarded and thrown away uneaten each year (link: The Guardian Food Waste). It can be difficult enough when shopping for a large family to avoid such waste but it is harder still for smaller households. I'm sure we've all had occasion to end up throwing away what had been perfectly good food, but despite our best intentions, we'd just not eaten it in time. However don't despair, you can avoid unnecessary waste especially if you adopt my 7 Top Tips to Canny Food Shopping for One or Two.

1 Loose produce is your friend! 

Shopping for One or Two
For fresh fruit and vegetables, the key here is to eschew pre-packed bags and containers where-ever possible. Don’t be afraid to buy just a single carrot, pepper or courgette/zucchini if that is all you need. You will be surprised to learn that not only will you save money from not buying more than you need, loose produce is also often cheaper gram-for-gram (lb-for-lb) than the packaged equivalent. Here’s a snapshot of price comparisons that I researched for this book (prices taken in Feb 2015):

  • Pre-packed 500g (1.1lb) bag of parsnips were 32% more expensive per kilo than the loose parsnips
  • Pre-packed 600g (1.3lb) bag of carrots were 11% more expensive per kilo than the loose carrots
  • Pre-packed 500g (1.1lb) bag of courgette/zucchini were 40% more expensive per kilo than the loose courgette/zucchini
  • Pre-packed 650g (1.4lb) bag of apples were 15% more expensive per kilo than the loose apples

2 Stock your freezer! 

Frozen Berries
When being used as an ingredient mixed into a recipe, it is unlikely that you will taste any difference whatsoever between frozen vegetables or fruits vs fresh. Additionally, as fruit and vegetables are frozen very soon after being harvested (which occurs at their peak in ripeness), they retain their nutritional goodness versus fresh produce which has been transported and stored for long periods. Frozen options are particularly useful for fruit and vegetables that you are unable to easily buy in the loose format described above, such as most berries, spinach, peas and beans. You should also be aware that when you are buying “fresh” prawns/shrimps or seafood from the fish section, it has probably actually been previously frozen then defrosted. Skip that step and buy the frozen version directly.

3 Save money by paying more! 

Now this is the exact opposite of point 1. Whereas with fruit and vegetables it is often the case that buying smaller, loose quantities works out cheaper pro-rata than the pre-packaged equivalents, that option is not available for items that have to be bought packaged (such as milk or yogurt). Really try to keep to the discipline of only buying quantities appropriate to your needs. It may be cheaper per yogurt to buy the dozen multi-pack, but if you are only going to eat 4 before the use-by date, then you haven’t actually made a saving at all. Get into the habit of buying smaller containers of food which perishes quickly and that cannot be frozen.

4 Count on Counters! 

If you are able to, source your meat and fish from the local butcher and fishmonger. If you need to do all your food shopping in the supermarket rather than smaller stores, then make a point to visit their speciality food counters. This tip particularly applies to meat and fish. For a start, in the pre-packed food aisles, it can be hard not to be sucked into the bulk-purchase offers (buy 1 get 1 free, buy the value pack). Secondly, at the counter you can buy exactly the quantity that you require and no more, such as two chicken breasts or fish fillets.

Beans & Lentils

5 More Can Be Good! 

Don’t be afraid to bulk-buy long-life items that you use often such as dried beans, rice, seeds, nuts, flour. However, do invest in good quality, air-tight storage to keep these items stored well. A word of caution, though, if you have food intolerances such as gluten or nuts, I do not recommend buying in bulk from dry good bulk bins in grocery stores, even for foods which should naturally be free from the allergen, due to the danger of cross-contamination.

Kitchen Shelf Herb Garden

6 Grow a herb and salad garden! 

For those without green fingers or a garden space, I’m not necessarily advocating any real gardening, but cut herbs and salad leaves will have the shortest shelf-life of any ingredient that you buy. So instead, keep a few pots of the fresh herbs that you use most often on your kitchen window sill. Often these days you can also buy a little container growing different salad leaves. In both cases, you are able to just harvest the amount you need for your recipe, even if you are not at all green fingered.

7 Divide & Conquer! 

Finally, as will always be the case some of the time, you may find you have a surplus of either a raw ingredient or a finished dish. Don’t just cover with kitchen film and leave it in the fridge, only to throw it away a week later. Instead, divide it into suitable portions and freeze it as soon as possible, preferably on the day you bought it. Be mindful that once frozen, foods are hard to separate, so divide it up into manageable, separated portions before freezing. For example, use kitchen parchment to separate rashers of bacon or tortilla wraps before placing them in a freezer bag. Wrap steaks, chops, chicken breasts and portions of minced/ground meat into individual freezer bags. Make sure you label what you’re freezing and when it should be used by.

Cook Vibrant, Nutritious, Fresh Food That's Just Enough For Two!

Deliciously Healthy Cooking For Two Recipe Cookbook
Many cookbooks feature recipes that provide 4 or 6 servings as standard. For smaller households, preparing delicious meals suitable for two is not as easy as just dividing such recipes by 2 or 3. Firstly, when cooking, you probably don’t want a math test at the same time! Secondly, it’s often not even that straight-forward, as:
  • how exactly do you halve an egg?
  • how much liquid/stock should you include?
  • how long should you cook something for?
  • what size dish should you use?
My 'Deliciously Healthy Cooking For Two' Cookbook eliminates that hard work with tried and tested recipes, perfectly scaled to serve two and gluten free too! You won’t have the dilemma of what to do with left-overs, you can still enjoy healthier desserts and you won’t have the fridge or cupboards crammed with half-used ingredients. 

Take a Peek at this Video Preview

You can find this cookbook as a paperback and Kindle book on Amazon:

And in ebook format from



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