How do you shop?

Shopping is the one place where you can waste food before you have even gotten it home – by buying stuff that you don’t need, or won’t use. Going shopping can be like a battle against two enemies – yourself and the shop. To win this battle you have to know your enemies!

Many of us consider the climate impact of the things we buy in the supermarket; packaged or loose, organic or conventional, local or international. It’s hard not to get bogged down by it all! However, one of the simplest things to consider when shopping is – will I definitely use this food?

To help you answer this question, think about what you waste regularly, and why.

It’s also very helpful to be prepared – make sure you don’t go hungry, use a list, and then try to stick to it!

The following are some other important things to think about when it comes to your shopping:

How you shop

Are you a big weekly shopper, do you prefer smaller shopping trips, or a combination of both? While going to the supermarket/shop more often, and buying less each time is a good way to avoid food waste, it also means you are more frequently exposed to the temptation to spend. You know yourself, it’s pretty hard to go to a shop and buy just one thing! The big shop can mean things are bought for the future and they end up not being used. Keep an eye on the food you waste and see if you can change the way you shop to suit both your needs and your wallet. Planning meals and using shopping lists are great, provided they fit with the way you shop. Before you put something into your basket, instead of thinking to yourself “I need this” ask yourself “why do I need this?” or “what am I really going to do with all of this?” You might be surprised how these questions can change your choices.


Check Out

Shopping trolleys are big and filling them is costly. Using a basket will certainly focus the mind because you are carrying it but baskets are not immune to random stragglers! So, before you’re at the check-out take a last look at what is in your basket or trolley and put back the items that “mysteriously” ended up in there. Every item you put away represents money and food that could end up being wasted.


If you find getting to the shops difficult, or if you are constantly going over budget, or you have to bring the kids who throw everything in the trolley, then online shopping might be for you. While this service is available in most large towns and cities, many smaller supermarkets now offer this service as well. It allows you plan and budget without the various distractions that tempt you when in the shop. While there is a charge with these services, and delivery time can be an issue, it may end up saving you more than the cost of the service in the long run.

Track your waste

It’s hard to get through a shop without throwing in a couple of extras. That’s fine as long as they don’t become a waste. By keeping your receipts and comparing them with the things you end up wasting you can see the true cost of your food waste. This will allow you plan and shop better in the future. It might take a bit of time to figure out what works and doesn’t work for you.