How to cut down your weekly food shop waste: My 2019 Supermarket Challenge

One of my 2019 resolutions was to upgrade my shopping habits so that we could produce less waste as a family.  This has been a long process but I feel I shop a lot more mindfully than I did at the beginning of the year.

I used to be a devoted Sainsburys shopper… until my friend introduced me to Aldi.  I did go through a transition phase of shopping for some goods at Sainsburys and some at Aldi, but that only lasted about two weeks as it was not time efficient.  So Aldi it was, cutting our monthly food bill in half, from around £120 to £60.

So we were an Aldi family for a few years, until I decided to grow an environmental conscience and care about the amount we were throwing out each week, that would inevitably end up in the ground.

I wanted to find an easy shopping system that would allow us to throw out less rubbish each week.  I have carried out our weekly food shop at Aldi, Sainsburys, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, and a slither at M&S.  I did leave Waitrose out BUT they are carrying out an ‘Unpacked’ study with dedicated refill isles, unfortunately, I don’t live near one of the trial supermarkets.  I compared the prices and also started looking at what packaging was recyclable, and also what I could buy without packaging by taking my own, or buying loose.

So, who came in the cheapest with the best loose fruit and veg, and who were open to taking containers for the deli bars, and who had the most recyclable packaging?

Sainsburys and Morrisons came in around the £80 – £90 mark.  I know I said earlier that my weekly food shop at Sainsburys was £120… but over the years I’ve become a more frugal and savvy shopper, looking at pence per litre or kilogram, not buying into brands etc.. And meal planning to try and avoid ingredients being wasted and that can be used for multiple meals.  And these two supermarkets were pretty similar on their packaging as well.  They both have a great variety of loose fruit and veg, and they let you take your own container to buy from the counters.

Asda was around the £70 mark, but I wasn’t bowled over.  They have loose fruit and veg though.

Aldi, obviously great on price at around the £50 – £65 mark.  They are the worst offender when it comes to thinking about waste.  Hardly any of their fruit or veg is available to buy loose.  Unless you’re buying a product in paper or cardboard, I found it hard to come across anything else that was recyclable.  Obviously the funnest thing about Aldi is trying to beat the checkout team while packing your bags.

I tried a farm shop and a butchers.  These were fantastic, but its more than one stop, its a bit more expensive and they don’t hold all the other stuff you need in a weekly shop.

The supermarket that did surprise me was Tesco.  It came in at around £60 – £70, had loads of loose fruit and veg, you can take your own containers for the counters and they have loads of options to choose from when it comes to recyclable packaging.  I mean, I can buy organic coffee in recyclable packaging!  Win!  I tried online shopping for the first time (I know.  I have been living under a rock.  A giant one), and I liked it, however, you don’t have as much option to buy loose, and when you choose the loose option, I found it often comes in a plastic bag.

I have located a refill store near me that I haven’t explored yet so that is on the cards… and I also need to test out the local market.

So for all under one roof… Tesco is a winner for me at this point in time.

A note on the organic cotton mesh bags I bought.. these are great in the trolly, they keep all your loose veggies together down the conveyor-belt too, they even have the weight of the bag on them so that the cashier can take that weight away from the weight of the veggies.  Great right?  Or not, the tills cannot deduct the weight of the bag (I tried in Sainsburys and Tesco).  They did weigh the bag for me on its own to see how much extra I would pay to use it which was £0.04.  Not much right?  But say I have ten bags each week.. thats £0.40 each week, which is £20.80 each year that I am paying for the privilege of using my own bag and thinking about the environment.  So for now, I have stored my mesh bags away and my fruit and veg can roll freely down the checkout.

My research WILL continue, but this is what I’ve found so far just by carrying out my weekly food shop at a few different supermarkets and paying attention to what I’ve bought.  I have managed to cut down our waste as a family overall, but we’ve still got a long way to go.  It also helps with the other swaps we’ve made, eg, soap bars, shampoo bars, metal straws, using vinegar and baking soda as cleaning products etc, but thats for another blog!

Have you tried to cut down your waste?  How?  Any tips, let me know!

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