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Failing to plan sees food wasted as UK shoppers forget to check their cupboards, fridges and freezers before stocking up

At a time when household budgets are squeezed, making the most of food is essential. But today, a new study from Tesco reveals that nine in 10 (92%) shoppers don’t always know what they already have in their kitchens before heading to the supermarket.

Despite 65% of shoppers acknowledging that a store cupboard stock take would help them reduce food waste, the majority (80%) don’t always do this, and instead hit the aisles or order in a takeaway without checking what they already have. This leads to increased spending, duplicate purchases, incomplete meals and ultimately, food ending up in the bin as ingredients are overlooked and left to spoil. The research found:

• 68% of people have purchased food without realising they already have the same item waiting at home
• 62% of UK adults have missed items from their food shop because they mistakenly believed they already had the item
• As a consequence, 53% have had to change meal plans

The research, commissioned by Tesco via YouGov, revealed that three quarters (73%) of UK households have thrown away forgotten items lurking in cupboards, fridges and freezers that they never got around to eating. The amount of edible food an average UK household wastes each year equates to approximately £800 .

Much of the food going to waste is produce that is often stored out of sight in kitchens:

• Baked goods such as loaves and rolls are thrown out by 60% of households that admit to having ever thrown out unused store cupboard items
• 27% of such households bin jars of condiments such as ketchup and mustard
• Even tinned produce, despite typically long use-by dates, is going to waste, with 13% of offending households throwing away cans of beans or tuna fish

As the cost of living increases and many households are seeking ways to be savvier with their budgets and their food, Tesco is encouraging shoppers to make a shopping list and take stock before they shop, order in a takeaway or even go out for dinner.

Tesco is encouraging the nation to implement a Use Up Day where once a week, people cook a meal using up food already in their kitchen, without needing to go out to buy more. By adopting this simple food hack, the average family could reduce the amount of food thrown away at home by a third, which equates to a potential financial saving of £260 per year.

This weekly kitchen clear out helps shoppers to take stock to see what food they already have, making it easier to write a list of what is needed before going out to by more food.

Tony McElroy, Tesco Head of Campaigns said: “At Tesco, we want our customers to be able to get more out of their food shop whilst keeping delicious meals on the table. That’s why we’re encouraging shoppers to implement a weekly Use Up Day, take stock of what they have in their kitchens and make a shopping list before going out to shop. A little planning can help to spend less and reduce food waste, helping both our pockets and the planet.”

To provide inspiration, chefs at Tesco have compiled their top 5 budget and waste-friendly recipes to help everyone make the most of the most forgotten about items, all costing less than £1.50 per serving.

Tasty recipes from Chefs at Tesco to inspire Use Up Day:

• Chilli bean soup with cheesy garlic bread – perfect for using up bread, tinned beans, onions and chopped tomatoes.
• Crispy chicken Caesar wraps – perfect for using up potatoes, lettuce, wraps, and any chicken.
• Tomato and pesto spaghetti – perfect for using up tomatoes, pasta, pesto and lemons.
• Slow-cooker sausage and butter bean casserole – perfect for using up any sausages, peppers, pitta breads and cheese.
• Banoffee pie – perfect for using up bananas, milk and biscuits.

Visit the Tesco food waste hub for more recipes and resources:

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