Craft Beer and Coffee: What These Drinks of Choice Reveal About American Consumers

Two of the most popular drinks in America are coffee and beer. We’re wild about them (although not usually both at the same time). At the most recent estimate the average American threw back 20.8 gallons of beer and 18.5 gallons of coffee every year, which is kind of insane. Now that doesn’t make America really any different than other countries on its own – unless you count all the tea-drinking countries, which I don’t. But there’s something else that seems to weirdly set the United States apart in its coffee and beer consumption: We aren’t just obsessed with coffee and beer; we’re obsessed with luxury coffee and beer.

Craft beer is the only part of the larger beer market that is actually still seeing growth in the U.S., and it continues to score new and bigger wins against the traditional American beer industry.  Meanwhile, in coffee, cash-cows like Starbucks and the rise of fair trade coffee have long dwarfed some of the cheaper alternatives like Folgers and Maxwell House – and that entirely leaves out instant coffee. In fact, Americans are so fixated on artisan, high-quality coffee, that a few millennial entrepreneurs even tried to create a luxury alternative for instant coffee so they wouldn’t have to cope with the trauma of getting by on cheap instant coffee while living abroad.

The United States Versus Everyone Else

What makes this trend interesting is how it contrasts with much of the rest of the world. For those who drink coffee in many other parts of the world, the usual choice is instant coffee – generally some variety of Nescafe. Instant coffee sales are booming around the world, with products that people are only barely conscious of at all in the U.S. We don’t realize we’re sticklers for luxury coffee – to us it’s just coffee.

The same thing goes for beer. Some countries like Germany also have higher general standards for brewing quality, but most countries, interestingly enough, drink some of our cheaper, mass-produced domestic beers. Bud Light, while the target of so much scorn among young people in the U.S., is a marketing giant here and abroad. It’s up there with Doritos and Coca-Cola in terms of its aggressively large presence on the commercial airwaves. And as a result it’s the third-most consumed beer in the world, while the first two most popular beers are Chinese brands sold primarily in the Chinese market.

“The American market is picky, especially these days,” says Paul Michaels, founder and CEO of National Bartenders. “People want specialization, they want design and detail. It’s less about the buzz and more about the flavor and the experience around it.” There’s a social environment and a certain popular sense of style that seems to have grown up around the rising trends in craft beer and luxury coffee, and it doesn’t exist in the same way for lower grades of coffee and beer.

Why America is Different and What This Means for Marketers

But why are we so stuck on these luxury, artisanal styles of beer and coffee, when beer and coffee used to be so straightforward without frills? Maybe we can blame marketers? Coffee and beer seem to have almost matched wine for the complicated culture that surrounds it. And now more and more beer bottles and bags of coffee come with their countries or cities of origin proudly stamped on the label with in-depth, flowery flavor profile descriptions, strangely reminiscent of wine as well.

Luxury coffee and craft beer have become their own cultures that consumers can find meaning in, although perhaps without as much of the elitism that wine culture seems to suggest. That in itself is probably part of the appeal, but where did these new food cultures come from, and do they offer any sort of guidance or road map for other marketers looking to do the same? One simple explanation could be that these craft food cultures themselves grow out of the longer eating and drinking traditions. We’ve been drinking coffee and beer for a long time, so this developed naturally.

And obviously it would be a dream goal for many marketers to have a product that inspires as much adoration and community devotion as coffee and beer seem to. One take-away is that achieving that level of consumer buy-in isn’t possible unless the manufacturer or supplier takes the product just as seriously. Craft beer depends on brewers that take the quality of their beer seriously, and the same goes for coffee. Many consumers, especially younger ones, just don’t trust the larger, established companies to do that anymore.

Eat More Turkey, Save More Money

Every Thanksgiving Americans dig into more than five billion pounds of gobbler. It’s both a tradition and an obsession. For only a few days the whole country becomes turkey-conscious. We serve it up roasted, deep fried, barbequed, hot, cold, and pickled. As the comedian Jackie Gleason once joked: “After Thanksgiving we even had turkey-flavored ice cream just to get rid of the leftovers!”

 

But the way Americans eat, or don’t eat, turkey is no joke. Every year there are dozens of cases of food poisoning caused by the incorrect cooking of turkey — and many consumers never even look at a turkey the rest of the year, even though it’s one of the best protein foods around and is the least expensive meat, pound for pound, in the supermarket for most of the year, according to CouponBox.com.

 

Here are a few tips to make your upcoming Thanksgiving holiday less of a stress and more of a rapport:

 

Do your planning even earlier than your shopping

Have a written shopping list, and stick with it. Never mind that marzipan is on sale or candied citrus peel is two for one — if it’s not on your list just forget it for now. Thanksgiving is crazy enough without adding little odds and ends that will sit in the corner unused, driving you even crazier. Write down your guest list. M ake a note of any food allergies; who’s gluten-free and who just joined AA (keep the wine away from them!) Do you have one TV dedicated to football and another dedicated to DVD’s? Get this all sorted out prior to the arrival of your guests to avoid the kind of meltdown that should only happen in a nuclear reactor (in some other country, please). You’ll save money, too.

Home cooking is cheaper than ordered in

Resist that urge to have your holiday feast catered by the local supermarket. The price may look reasonable, but if you break it down you’ll find you’re paying through the nose for a bunch of mediocre lukewarm stodge. Make it yourself and you’ll save about ten dollars per person served.

Start scouting for coupons and discounts NOW

Never pay full price for that Butterball turkey or those sweet potatoes! Most food processors and grocery stores start their Turkey Day bargains and run their coupons starting in mid-October. Get online and start a search with words like ‘turkey’, ‘bargain’, ‘butter’, ‘discount’, ‘pumpkin pie filling’, etc.

When Couponbox.com surveyed the top turkey producers in the Midwest they found that the reasons most people shy away from turkey the rest of the year they were told that consumers think turkey is too difficult to cook and is less flavorful than meats like beef and pork.

But a basic turkey recipe is so simple an eight year old child could do it. Most turkeys come with a built-in thermometer that pops up red when the turkey is done. So really all that needs doing is to set the proper oven temp, put the thawed bird in a pan, and shove into the oven — and then keep track of the time and wait for the little red thing to pop up. Your turkey is done.

For something more elegant, try champagne turkey. Follow the same instructions as for the basic turkey, just have an opened bottle of the bubbly on hand to ladle over the bird every hour or so to make the turkey sweeter and juicier. For any teetotalers at the table, the alcohol will all evaporate long before the bird reaches the table.

If you are ready for a real turkey challenge, then try roast turkey with flavored butter. The flavors can range from rosemary to garlic to anchovy. If you make the flavored butter ahead of time you can baste the turkey into a deliciousness that will have your guests reminiscing, and patting their stomachs, for years to come.

Strategies for Developing Your Brand

You may have walked by places where there are a lot of street vendors. Whether the people are selling cheap watches or hot dogs, they seem to be hawking the same merchandise, saying the same things with similar signs up. You may wonder how a customer can possibly make a distinction between one street vendor and another. It’s natural that they are all hollering that they have the lowest prices because there doesn’t seem to be anything else that is distinctive about their products. As a result, they have to yell loudly and mark things down to move their merchandise.

The above scenario shows the difficulty of brandless marketing. The street vendors are not developing a brand but have to sell existing brands. Therefore, they can’t really say anything about their merchandise except that it is in very good condition and very cheap. If you are running a startup and are in the position of developing a brand, you have a significant advantage over the street vendors. You can go beyond simply saying your product is the least expensive and works efficiently, and can create entire essence around your product that makes it unique.

Being Unique

We are surrounded not only by street vendors, but virtual street vendors every time we check our email or Facebook wall. It seems that people are trying to sell us things everywhere we go. Developing a brand involves not just selling someone an item, but providing something deeper and more satisfying. The main thing to keep in mind when marketing products is addressing the question of what makes your product unique.

The answer to this question creates the foundation for your brand philosophy. What may be unique about your brand is that it is made of natural and organic ingredients. However, you need to take that a step further and answer the question of what makes your natural and organic product different from all other natural and organic products, and so on, until you identify the one or two things that make your product unique. Once you have identified that quality, you should emphasize it in the development of your brand

Anticipating Trends

You don’t have to be a psychic to figure out what’s on the horizon. You don’t even need to be the first one there, but can jump in on a trend early on if you see there are enough factors present to give it momentum. The healthy eating trend, for instance, has been around since the 1960s, but it has taken various forms. The popularity of tofu in the 80s was followed by an increasing awareness about organic food in the 90s. Veganism seemed like a new thing a few years ago, and now it is a way of life among millennials.

An astute brand developer stays aware of news and trends and can have an idea of where things are going, and this helps brand development. It was clear through the years that interest in healthy eating continued to grow and didn’t wane.

A David and Goliath Tale of Branding

The story of Hampton Creek illustrates how a new brand can overtake a traditional one because of shifting attitudes among consumers. Hampton Creek, the developer of the Just Mayo brand was hit with lawsuits by Unilever, who owns Hellmann’s real mayonnaise. Unilever claimed that Hampton Creek did not have the right to use the term “mayo” for its brand because its mayonnaise replacement did not have real eggs and could not be considered as mayo. The news could have damaged a small company that didn’t have a trend to support its brand. However, the public was much more interested in healthy eating than in old-fashioned mayonnaise, and as a result of the news story, more people became aware of the vegan mayonnaise alternative. This led to Just Mayo appearing in the aisles of supermarkets when before it was sold mainly in health food stores.

The Trend is Your Friend

When it comes to branding, regard the trend as your friend even if it doesn’t seem to be. If your product appears to be going the opposite direction of where the trend is going, then it may be time to diversify or to tweak your branding. Promoting a brand is much easier if the public is in the mood to accept it and it is a good idea to not only stay aware of trends but to anticipate where they’re going.

What Are the Essentials of a Reliable Corporate Catering Company

catering-company

When you are looking for a “corporate” catering crew you are expecting to cooperate with professionals who understand how to work with high profile business clients, parties, and guests. To give a good impression on clients or associates you need to create a party with the greatest food and also remember about the appealing presentation. With experts help of corporate catering solutions in Toronto you will be able to portray your business in the most favorable light. Read below some ideas about what experts must know in order to find the best company for your needs.

As professionals from Partsandlabourcatering.ca Toronto catering company explain, a commercial caterer is a company or a team that arranges all kinds of various services demanded by their client. A good caterer will know how to prepare not only food, but also its presentation, make alcohol and bar arrangements if needed, find the right venue and decorate it. Good caterers can do everything from lunch boxes to luxurious plated dinners depending on the needs and requirements of a client. They must know everything about plated dinners and buffets, pre-cooked and freshly cooked meals. They will also be able to make all the arrangements about the menu and make it perfect for every single guest regardless of his or her age and food preferences.

As already stated above, professional corporate catering solutions must always include bar at any shortest notice of the clients, because big busies is never done without good alcohol. Toronto catering services also create the right menus; the most professional ones can even design menus for people with religious or dietary restrictions without lacking taste and perfect look of food.

Most business parties do not start exactly on time, so a good and reliable Toronto catering company will find hors d’oeuvres to occupy the guests arrived. Most frequently such meals will include first course meals, salads, or standard appetizers before the main course is served.

When looking for corporate catering solutions make sure to cooperate only with flawless teams because their mistakes will influence your reputation and business as a result. Make sure that you very carefully read clients’ history of each company that is on your list, check online independent websites for any complaints history, and of course verify certification and licenses for both food and alcohol serving.

And the final advise from the experts in corporate catering solutions is to hire a company that will be able to create the best event within your budget. Some companies promise great parties but are unable to stick to the budget and as a result compromise, let’s say, nice plates to ugly silver wear. When you hire experts you must be sure that you will get t he best part possible within the money you have so that to feel at ease that your business partners will be satisfied. And make sure that you trust your caterer and give them some freedom to create something unique and marvelous for your evening!

 

Job Placement Firms: Helping Busy Chefs Find New Careers

Chefs have a very exciting but very challenging career. They work long hours, sometimes seven days a week, and are in constant demand the entire time. To be a chef, a person has to be very passionate about the work, because those who are only in it for a paycheque burn out very quickly. When you ask an experienced chef what the main prerequisite is to make a great chef, most of them would sum it up in one word – passion. Since chefs work very hard and work very long hours, it is sometimes difficult for them to switch from one job to another, because there is little time to research available jobs, send out resumes and go on interviews. These days, however, this task is a little easier because there are many job placement companies that help chefs of all experience levels find a job. Most of these companies can be found online.

Starting Online Is a Great First Step

Job placement firms found online usually cater to both job-seekers and those who are recruiting employees, and for most, it is a simple and fast process to sign up online. Once job-seekers sign up online, it is possible that potential employers will find them quickly. That is in part because the chefs can create very detailed profiles with a photograph and detailed information that includes specialty areas, the areas of the city they are interested in working in, desired salary range and current skills and qualifications. Head chefs and restaurant owners who wish to find chefs in London and surrounding areas can enter some basic information, click on a button and find a list of potential employees. Whether you are a job-seeker or an employer, finding what you want is easy and can be done with the click of a mouse.

Job Placement Companies Make Finding a Chef’s Job Much Easier

Chefs have a unique career, and even though most of them find the job extremely rewarding, there are still good points and bad points about the job. Chefs love the uniqueness of the job, the attention they receive and the ability to create something new on a regular basis, but they often resent the long hours and the physical demands of the job. Of course, these days their lack of time does not necessarily mean that they cannot look for another job when they are ready to advance their careers. With online job recruitment companies, the two parties can communicate with one another directly, so there is no sending resumes to mailboxes and waiting for a reply. If employers are interested in you, they will contact you directly, so the entire process runs both faster and more smoothly than other types of employment-seeking.

If you are a chef in need of a new job, considering the advantages of an online job placement firm is an excellent idea. It saves time and money, and enables you to quickly find the job of your dreams.

Hacks to Save Money on Your Daily Coffee Fix

A wise man once said, “Behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.” Now there are many nicknames for coffee whether it be joe, java, daily grind, brain juice, rocket fuel or whatever your name for it is, coffee is a vital and necessary asset in the workplace.

We here in the America consume more than 3 billion pounds of coffee every year, according to researchers at CouponBox.com. That amount is proportionate to 2,854 Airbus A380 airplanes or 15 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

Consuming those immense quantities of coffee beans comes at a high scot. In America, we spend upwards of $30 billion on coffee each year. That figure is gathered from the amount of coffee we brew at home and substantial amount of money we throw at our local Starbucks or coffee shop.

Sure, abandoning your daily caffeine fix will save you some money, but is it really worth it? Luckily, there are tons of strategies that will give both you and your budget a boost while helping you keep your sanity.

At-home Coffee Hacks

  • gGrind your beans before preparing a cup. Coffee loses most of its flavor when it’s been roasted, and grinding will speed up the process.
  • Using an AeroPress is a convenient, inexpensive way to make an Americano or espresso coffee.
  • AeroPress paper filters can be rinsed and reused with no negative effect on the quality of your coffee.
  • Your water used should be at 175° F and filtered. This will make better coffee and encourage you to make your own cup each day, saving money.
  • The fridge is the enemy of coffee. Store coffee in an air-tight container (preferably glass) in the freezer.
  • A hand-crank grinder is inexpensive and will do the job for a good homemade java.
  • Cold brew is the latest thing. Simply soak ground coffee beans in water overnight, and then strain out the grounds. Change things up and drink something cold.

Coffee Shop Hacks

  • Shop around. Just because a coffee store’s product is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
  • Try buying a double shot espresso and adding your own milk at the condiments bar, or an iced latte with “extra syrup” instead of a more expensive Frappuccino.
  • Buying Fair Trade coffee means you are helping provide a decent wage for hard-working coffee farmers.
  • If you bring your own mug or cup, sometimes you can get a small discount.
  • If you are with friends, Starbucks can brew a fresh French Pressyou can share (and share the cost).
  • There are lots of discounted gift cards on sites such as eBay, which can shave dollars from your coffee habit.
  • Order a “short” espresso instead of “tall” to get the same amount of kick for 80 cents less.
  • Apps such as CoffeeGuru are available that can guide you to the best-tasting and most-affordable coffee deals in your local area.

Food Labelling For All Seasons

For any manufacturing business, one of the key business goals is to increase utilisation of production capacity by increasing sales throughput. Manufacturers of perishable goods, particularly food related products, have an additional twist to the problem. Since the shelf life of the product is necessarily limited, there’s less opportunity to build stock in the warehouse in advance of anticipated seasonal spikes in demand. This means that the product needs to “hit the ground running” in terms of shop floor turnover if the manufacturer is to be able to take advantage of what may be a short, but particularly intense, spike in demand.

The winter festive period is a good illustration of the problem. In the first place, there is a short lived growth in demand for some specific products – confectionery products such as traditional German Stollen or Turkish Delight, for example, are rarely seen on the shelves outside the month of December. There’s also an opportunity for manufacturers to differentiate less seasonally specific products to give a short term fillip to seasonal demand. We’re all familiar with the major labels on sweets and chocolate which are often produced in specific formats, such as the familiar “bite sized” tubs of high street favourite brands. Brewers, particularly craft breweries, have been quick to latch on to the possibilities of “Christmas Ales”, although this does seem to have provoked a backlash among some Real Ale drinkers, a fairly cantankerous bunch at the best of times, as this article published recently in the Guardian newspaper illustrates.

Challenges and opportunities

For both larger manufacturers and small “boutique” producers, the short run nature of the seasonally related product implies opportunities and challenges in equal measure. While, in many cases, the product being manufactured can imply little or no variation from the year-round manufacturing process, there’s still a need to adapt the production line to meet even subtle changes to the manufacturing process, as well as cleaning and sanitizing before and after the changes are made. The need for seasonal product labelling will requires small batches of specific product labels to be available in exactly the quantities required on a just-in-time basis. In-house industrial quality label printers from specialist suppliers such as QuickLabel can address this problem without the need for inflexible outsourcing from printing contractors.

The opportunities provided by seasonal events can, however, be significant. It’s not just the Christmas period which gives food companies the chance to sweat the capital assets. Sporting events, such as the Football World Cup or the Olympic Games have recently given food manufacturers and distributors the opportunity for especially themed limited editions of staple product lines, Mars Bars were produced in limited edition packaging for the 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals, for example.

Scope for imaginative marketing

The opportunity for special edition marketing isn’t necessarily limited to external events, however. Many food companies are quite capable of inventing reasons to print short run limited editions. Heinz, for example, marketed an initial run of 3000 bottles of “yuppie” tomato ketchup with balsamic vinegar exclusively through Facebook. In similar vein, HP printed labels for a “limited edition” of its familiar brown sauce, with labels designed by Paul Smith, which went on sale in Harrods food hall retailing at four times the price of the standard edition of the product. While the packaging may have gone up market, the brown sauce itself, it appears, was quite unchanged.

The prize for limited edition chutzpah, however, must surely go to brewers Diageo, makers of a certain famous Irish brand of stout, who, not content with a simple change of packaging or labelling, invented “Arthur’s Day” (first “celebrated” in 2009) as a vehicle for promoting their product. The fact that they managed to persuade celebrities, sporting personalities and statesmen as well as ordinary drinkers to participate in this paean to Arthur Guinness represents a marketing coup of truly epic proportions.

Featured images:
  • License: Image author owned

Chris Johnson is a management consultant with a particular interest in the food production and packaging industry. He has advised many major international businesses on marketing and production issues in the UK, Australia and North America. Now semi-retired, he continues to write, contributing to a number of journals and internet sources.

He retains a close practical interest in good food of all kinds, but especially the liquid variety, an interest which he balances with frequent long walks in his native Scottish countryside accompanied by his two dogs.

Cell Phone Etiquette in Fancy Restaurants.

So you’re on a cheap date at a burger joint and the ring tone on your cell phone lets you know it’s your best bud in the world, probably calling back about those football tickets he was getting for you.  You tell the girlfriend, or boyfriend, to excuse you a minute, and you take the call.  No big deal, right?  Cell phones are so ubiquitous today that funeral homes offer to bury your loved one with a cell phone – in case they wake up or something, I guess.  We talk on our phones in the bathroom, the office, on the bus, in the car, at the movie theater, while waiting in line, and so on.  But there are occasions when you should put your cell phone on ‘vibrate’ and leave it alone, if you want to avoid losing a client or getting slapped by your date.  Here’s the QT:

When you’re on an important business lunch or romantic date at a plush and expensive restaurant, the kind of place that has REAL waiters, not busboys in used usher uniforms, and where you know the tip is going to exceed the gross national product of Cambodia, you should cool it when it comes to answering your cell phone, or playing with its aps.

Of course, restaurants can be both casual and expensive, and if that’s the case you can usually get away with taking a call, or even initiating one if you have to.  Also, if you’re in a bar, even a fancy one, it’s okay to have the trusty cell phone in hand and talk to anybody you want, whenever you want.  You may not be able to smoke in a bar anymore, but you can darn well talk to anybody you please on your cell phone.

The rule of thumb is that if you have to dress up like you’re going to church or synagogue or mosque, then it’s the kind of restaurant where the cultured clientele will not appreciate your ring tone shredding the air with “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  If you find yourself going to fancy-schmansy restaurants often, you should consider ring tones by Mozart and Hayden, instead riffs by Jimmy Hendrix.  Also, make sure you tell everyone at your table that the call is from your money market manager, even if it’s just the plumber calling about your clogged toilet.

Best of all, if you REALLY want to impress your dinner date or business lunch guests, don’t bring your cell phone along at all, and breezily inform your co-dinners that you no longer have one because it’s too distracting.  Instead you use a personal messenger service.  That will impress the heck out of them.  The downside is that they’ll probably stick you with the bill . . .

5 Things You Can’t Skimp On In Your New Restaurant

While there are many factors that are important in the success of any restaurant, five factors are essential. Not only do these guidelines assure success, failure to meet any one of them may be fatal to your fledgling enterprise.

 

Customer Service

Prompt, friendly interaction with customers establishes the foundation of an enjoyable experience for your customers. Train staff to remember “ABC” in any situation: Always Be Courteous. Regard problems as a challenge to meet, not as a disruption to routine. Take complaints seriously, and address problems as soon as they are discovered.

 

Kitchen Staff

One of the most disruptive conditions in the restaurant business is high turnover among kitchen staff. There is a learning curve in both preparation, and presentation of your menu items. Hire good people; train them well; let them know how important they are. While adequate pay is important, intangibles such as expressing appreciation for a job well done, and making sure that unpleasant tasks are assigned fairly will inspire loyalty and minimize costly turnover.

 

Food Quality

There are many factors to consider in menu planning: freshness, flavor, current food fashion, and attractive presentation. On the practical side, you also need to consider cost, preparation time, and potential waste. Developing a few unique items can help set your restaurant apart from competitors. A favorite family dessert, or Aunt Gertrude’s Secret Recipe Salad Dressing can have customers coming back for more.

 

Kitchen Cleanliness

While most customers don’t see behind the scenes to know whether or not your kitchen harbors dirty little secrets, a dirty kitchen poses health and safety hazards, and can negatively impact employee morale. Most Health Department violations are a matter of public record, and can be a source of bad publicity for months after violations have been corrected. The only thing worse than a Health Department violation, is the potential financial liability for a food-borne illness affecting one or more customers.

 

Appearance

Finally, the overall appearance of public areas are vital to success. Plumbing leaks in bathrooms, or cracks in sheetrock on dining room walls creates a bad impression. Fresh, clean decor affirms the impression of fresh, clean food. Attention to detail in maintaining the overall appearance of your restaurant indicates that you pay attention to detail with the menu as well.

 

Opening a new restaurant can be an exciting experience. By paying close attention to these basic success factors, you can overcome the many challenges that often follow.

 

Making Meals To Minimise Waste

Mary Creagh MP states, “Britain is the seventh richest national in the world yet we face a growing epidemic of hidden hunger, particularly in children The reality of parents unable to feed their children whilst food goes to waste is one of the starkest examples of the squeeze on living standards faced by many British families.”

Britain’ shameful food-wasting habits have been all over the media lately thanks to Jamie Oliver’s latest series – Jamie’s Money Saving Meals. According to Jamie’s website, the average Brit “spends £1320 per year on fast food, eating 12 take-aways per month.” He also revealed “40% of food bought in Britain ends up in the bin.” But the last truth about first world eating habits, extended beyond Brits alone, shockingly he claims that the “US spends enough money on junk food each year to potentially end world hunger.” A report published by Stuttgart University also revealed that Germans throw away about 181lbs and £190 of food per person, each year.

The Guardian stated that the findings of a survey carried out by frozen food giant Birds Eye, uncovering that “vegetables topped the list of the most commonly wasted food group, followed by bread and fruit.” It also revealed that Brits don’t feel good about these figures, 40% of them feeling guilty about food wastage and wanting to do something about it.

Awareness is the first step to change, and with the help of media personalities like Jamie Oliver and government-run initiatives like Love Food, Hate Waste -together, we can all do our part to reduce food wastage. Will Thomas from Eccount Money believes “sensible food planning is an essential part of this strategy.” He also added that “food is a big part of the family budget, and now more than ever, people need to reduce their spending to help meet the rising cost of living. Minimising waste not only has larger, social impact, but it can also help you personally reduce your monthly spend.”

Understanding the labels

According to Love Food/Hate Waste, the UK wastes £12.5bn a year on food that we buy, only to throw away. They believe the biggest culprit is lack of understanding when it comes to ‘use by’ dates. The website advises consumers to understand that BEST BEFORE dates “refer to quality rather than food safety. Foods with a ‘best before’ date should be safe to eat after the ‘best before’ date, but they may no longer be at their best.” Where as USE BY dates refer to food safety, urging consumers to always follow the correct storage advice on the package to get the longest shelf life. DISPLAY UNTIL instructions are purely for retail staff, to help them arrange their products on the shelves.

TOP TIP: To extend the life of food beyond its date, freeze it before the use-by date. When defrosting however, be sure to use the food within 24 hrs of defrosting.

Portion and planning

Other than simply buying more than you need, another major reason cited for wasting food was “lack of meal planning prior to shopping… with one in three people admitting to not planning.” According to The Fabian Society, “to get people to be more thrifty with their food habits, big supermarkets need to take the lead.” While some of the big companies are actively do so, others fail to even comment on the situation.

While politicians and campaigners can take care of the bigger contributors, there are ways you can waste less at home. Everyone knows that planning meals and writing a shopping list can save you pounds every week. Most mums become a wiz at menu planning and grocery store thrift, but if you need a little help, Love Food/Hate Waste has a portion planning tool on their website to help you find out how much food you actually need to buy for your meals. They also have some quick tips for your shopping list;

  • keep a pen and pad in the kitchen
  • write a menu plan for the week, and only buy enough for those meals
  • check the shelves at the shops for the longest used-by date on all perishable items
  • check the freezer and store cupboards before you write your list so you don’t buy things you already have

TOP TIP: make one meal per week using only ingredients you already have in the cupboard, fridge and freezer. This will reduce the cost of your weekly shop by one meal, and ensure that you’re using up existing ingredients.

Knowledge is Power

The adage “knowledge is power” is never truer than for the issue of food wastage. So often food will go to waste because consumers simply don’t know what to do or how to use up the food that’s left. The best way to empower yourself to make change is to find recipes and start cooking. Becoming confident in the kitchen is the only way you can minimise food wastage and the best way to gain confidence is to practise. Watching shows like Jamie Oliver’s Money Saving Meals and buying cooking books like Fiona Beckett’s The Frugal Cook that not only show you how to cook but inspire you to try new things are all ways that you can help yourself become a better cook and learn how to eat to minimise waste. Websites like The Kitchen Revolution and LoveFoodHateWaste are a great place to start your online research and don’t forget the endless inspiration and resources available on food blogs and online publications.

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  • License: Image author owned
  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://photodune.net

Based in Chester, Jessica Bourne is lifestyle writer with a focus on how to live well on less. With years of experience under her belt, Jessica can share tips with her readers about how they can eat, look and feel better on a budget that grows ever tighter. Jessica’s money-saving articles can be found on the eccount money blog.