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Reduce Food Waste By Shopping Daily

Updated on February 17, 2012

Before I start, let me say that doing a daily shop is not going to be suitable for everyone. Your budget, job, family or hobbies might prevent you from going to the store more than once a week, or you may be far more organized than I ever was when doing a big shop and not need to reduce household waste. If you successfully meal plan then this is probably not for you.

In my home it's just the two of us: myself and my husband. We used to do a big shop once every two weeks and buy things out of habit, then not eat them and end up tossing them out before the next shop. We would also buy things and forget we had them until they had gone out of date, buy more fresh fruit or vegetables than we could eat before they went off, and on occasions, come home late from work, ignore the food in the fridge altogether and order take out instead.

I should have been more disciplined of course, but in the modern world it's easy for things to slip your mind. I shudder to think how much food I've thrown out over the years because was too lazy to think about what I was buying, or because there was a special offer on a huge bag of fresh fruit that I knew I could never finish even when I bought it. I think my biggest problem was that many nights I just didn't fancy whatever we had in the kitchen that evening.

Making the switch

I started shopping daily more out of convenience than anything else. The big superstores are out of town so they're not easy to get to if you don't drive, so we either had to have groceries delivered or take public transport home with them, usually a taxi if we had done a big shop. Grocery shopping was a chore but now it's a fifteen minute detour on my walk home from work and so much a part of my routine that I don't mind it at all. For others it might take a bit of juggling but it's worth the effort.

The benefits

I wish I had done it sooner as so many other benefits have come from doing a daily shop. First is the aforementioned reduction in food waste. I would buy a loaf of bread and we would only eat a few slices before it had to be thrown out a couple of days later. Now I buy artisan rolls instead. It's more expensive per portion if you count the portions that go uneaten but you can buy them individually and it still works out cheaper than buying a loaf that we won't finish anyway. I still stock up on non-perishables when they're on special offer but I no longer buy foods that will be past their best before we are able to eat them just because they're on special offer, or cheaper in bulk.

Shopping daily also gives me a great excuse to visit the small, independent shops like artisan bakers, that are being squeezed out of the market by the big chains. If you're making the effort to go daily then it's not much more of an effort to make sure you're supporting a local business.

For me the biggest benefit comes from being able to eat what I want, not what I know needs eating up. I really enjoy every meal now, because I've picked what I fancy.

Image credit to Ambro at


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