Reducing Food Waste With Tablet Apps: Save Money & Help The Environment

FoodAccording to an IMechE report earlier this year, between “30-50% of all food produced on the planet is lost before reaching a human stomach”. It’s a number that should concern every one of us: food waste causes the average household to be £480 worse off every year and also has environmental impact in terms of wasted resources.

Within the UK, the amount of food that we throw away is staggering. As a nation, we collectively throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year. That’s equivalent in weight to 18,000 jumbo jets.

Save Money & Help The Environment

The most compelling reason to reduce food waste is that it will save you lots of money. According to government statistics, groceries are the fourth biggest item of expenditure in a typical household budget. On average, British households spend £2,857 per year on “food and non-alcoholic drinks” (£54.80 per week). Of this, £480 of food is simply thrown away. By reducing food waste, households can save themselves hundreds of pounds every year.

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Food production is resource-intensive: 72% of land in the UK is given over to food production. CC-licensed image from Wikipedia.

Another reason that compels us to reduce food waste is its impact on the environment. Producing food is a resource-intensive process: as a nation we dedicate 72% of our land to food production. Food production also consumes a large amount of energy, water and soil fertilisers. When food is thrown away needlessly, resources are wasted down the entire production line. With a rapidly growing population and dwindling natural resources, it should be our moral obligation to reduce food waste.

As individuals, there are two ways we can reduce food waste. The first is making better use of leftover ingredients: we should find ways to eat the food that we have rather than throwing it away. The second is the mantra of “waste not, want not”: buying only the food that we actually need. In this article, we’ll look at some applications for your tablet that can help you to achieve these objectives.

Using Leftovers: Tablet Apps for Recipe Inspiration

When there’s leftover ingredients in the fridge, it’s not always easy to know how they can be used.

Cooking with leftovers can sometimes feel like ‘Ready Steady Cook’: there’s a mish-mash of seemingly random ingredients, all leftover from different meals. With no obvious way to use them up, a lot of those ingredients eventually make their way to the trash.

Epicurious TabletYour tablet can help in this regard by giving you culinary inspiration. When it comes to leftover ingredients, my favourite tablet app for recipe ideas is Epicurious. It’s available as a free download on the iPad. The app has a database of more than 30,000 recipes, though what’s particularly useful is the ability to find recipes based on the ingredients within them. By restricting your recipe search to only the food that’s available in your fridge, the app can help you to use up leftovers.

As tablets give you access to a more extensive recipe collection than cookbooks, it should always be possible to find something that’s new and different. I’ve been positively surprised by some of the delicious dishes you can make from ingredients in the fridge.

BreadOne of my favourite “leftover” recipes is bread and apple pudding. It’s a great way of using up stale bread and it’s fairly simple to make and bake. Bread pudding goes well with apple but it also complement other fruits like strawberries and pears. Why not try the recipe with the fruit you have available?

Some other “leftover” recipes that I love include:

  • Bubble and Squeak – Bubble and Squeak can make a simple week night dinner. The recipe is incredibly flexible – it accommodates almost any type of vegetable. My recommendation is to use the vegetables that were leftover from Sunday lunch.
  • Curry Chicken Salad – I absolutely love this recipe. Combine leftover chicken with salad leaves and mix it with some mayonnaise and curry powder. Simply delicious.
  • Vegetable Soup – This one’s perfect for keeping warm in the winter (and apparently the spring too). Vegetable soup is incredibly versatile – you can use almost any veg that’s in the fridge.

Whilst you’re cooking, the tablet version of Epicurious is ideal. The application has a full-screen “cookbook” view with a detailed list of ingredients, high-resolution photos and step-by-step instructions. If you don’t have a tablet, you can use the equivalent smartphone application. Epicurious is also available on iPhone, Android & Windows Phone devices.

Waste Not, Want Not: Better Grocery Shopping

One of the reasons so much food goes to waste is that we often buy things we don’t need. Without careful planning, it’s easy to get carried away: you could buy too much food or you could buy something that you already have in the fridge. By keeping a shopping list and sticking to it, you’ll stop yourself from wasting money on food you won’t eat.

Tesco iPad AppWhilst a paper shopping list can do the job, I find it much more convenient to keep a shopping list on my tablet. My favourite app for maintaining a shopping list is Tesco’s iPad application. The app is dead easy to use: whenever you run out of something, simply take a photo of the product or scan its barcode. The app recognises the product and automatically adds it to your shopping list. You’ll also see an indication of its price which can be helpful when budgeting.

What makes the Tesco service particularly useful is the fact it also works on smartphone devices. You can download a Tesco app for your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone device. Providing you sign in to the same account on your devices, the shopping list will be synchronised automatically on all of your smartphones and tablets. This means your whole family can contribute to the shopping list, either using an iPad or their own smartphone.

Tesco Scan Barcode

You can add a product to your shopping list by scanning its barcode. This can be done on a tablet or on a smartphone when you’re away from home.

When it comes to actually doing your weekly shop, Tesco customers can place an online order through the iPad application. If you normally shop at a different supermarket or you prefer to shop in-store, there’s no problem: just use the app as a shopping list and ignore the options to checkout.

By making use of a shopping list, you can become more disciplined at the supermarket. Sticking to your shopping list will prevent you from buying unnecessary things: this keeps your grocery bills down and will ultimately reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away.

Conclusions

As a nation, we waste a lot of good food. Every year, the average household in Britain spends £480 on food that gets thrown away. This is a big waste of money and a huge waste of environmental resources. By reducing food waste, we can ultimately save hundreds of pounds every year whilst also helping the environment.

VegetablesThe main ways to reduce food waste are to make better use of leftover ingredients and to shop more effectively at the supermarket.

Epicurious is a fantastic app if you’re looking for inspiration on what to do with leftovers. Get it on your tablet for the “cookbook viewing mode” and use the “Search by ingredients” feature for recipe ideas.

When it comes to doing the weekly shop, having a household shopping list can be invaluable. The Tesco application is ideal for this: it’s easy to add products by taking a photo or scanning a barcode and you can synchronise the shopping list across your family’s smartphone and tablet devices. Keep to the list and you’ll avoid buying things you won’t use.

With increasing food prices forming an ever-larger part of the household budget, reducing the amount of food you throw away can be a simple and effective way to save money. Using the right apps on your tablet, that job can be made even easier. For this reason, I consider these apps to be some of the best money saving apps on a tablet.

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