Just a brief post today for Zero Waste Week Day 4. Today, I’d like to talk about shopping with willpower. Something I’m not always very good at myself, but I feel I have improved over the last year since we began our zero waste journey in earnest. Supermarkets, and indeed all shops, are designed to sell you things. The shop keepers wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t. From the layout of the shop itself to the conveniently placed ‘bargains’ at eye level or next to the till, visual merchandising is perhaps the biggest weapon in the retail arsenal. It takes a huge amount of willpower to resist, but it is possible.
Stick to the List
Some people like to take in their list and stick doggedly to it, like a blinkered horse. This is a great way to reduce food waste, especially if you meal plan. You only buy exactly what you need. This method can save you money as well. However, it does take a bit of practice to resist those tempting ‘2 for 1’ offers (see below). We don’t use this method for a few reasons. There is invariably something I’ve forgotten to put on the list that I remember as I wander round. Also, we like to keep a bit of spontaneity to our meals, as I mentioned on Day 2. It also helps the children feel more involved in the shopping outing as well as the decision making in the house if they get to choose one or two things. Their items aren’t usually on the list. We discuss the items they ask for in the shop in terms of packaging, nutritional value etc and try to meet them halfway in their requests.
The Reduced Section
We like to peruse the reduced section to see what bargains there are. This is where shopping with willpower comes in. We’re careful about what we buy from reduced sections. For a start, if something is only reduced by 50p and we wouldn’t have bought it anyway, we leave it. We tend to look for fresh fish, cooked meat and snacks from the deli section, which aren’t in quite as much packaging and save us more money. We think about how and when we’re going to use it before we buy it and adjust our meal planning accordingly.
Offers – Shopping With Willpower
Before we started our zero waste journey, back in the days when we weren’t overly concerned about our plastic consumption, we were the BOGOF champions. A combination of reducing our food bills, reducing our plastic consumption and, as a result, reducing food waste has led to us avoiding supermarket offers. As my dad used to tell me, it’s not a bargain if you don’t actually need it in the first place. See, I do listen sometimes! Now, we go shopping with willpower. The only time we buy food on offer is if we were going to buy it anyway and the offer enables us to put half away in the store cupboard or freezer. Stay strong, think carefully, ‘Do we actually need this? Will we eat it before it goes off? Can we freeze all or some of it? Could I pass half on to a friend or family member?’ Listen to your zero waste conscience.
Never Shop When Hungry
The old advice of never shopping when hungry stands true. Stopping at the shop on the way home from work, or going in the morning before breakfast, is a surefire way to end up with a lot of food in your trolley that you wouldn’t normally consider buying. The smell of Lidl bakery at about 9.30am is guaranteed to make me stock up on pastries, buns and bread. It’s making me hungry thinking about it! Luckily, nothing I buy from Lidl bakery is ever wasted.
What are your best tips for avoiding food waste when doing the supermarket shop? How is your Zero Waste Week going? Please share in the comments.