Advice for living in Cardiff and the UK, Budgeting, Managing your money, More, Student Finance

Money, food and…climate change?!

Our experts in the Advice and Money Team share some help and money management advice.

Managing your food shop can not only save you pounds but can also help with climate change. No I’m not talking rubbish………hmmmmmmm well yes I am, food caddie rubbish.

The science bit: Food waste is listed as the 3rd biggest impact on climate change. This is because as food deteriorates it releases methane which is a greenhouse gas and affects climate change. Collectively, UK homes waste around 7 million tonnes of food per year. Of this food waste nearly 5 million tonnes (that’s about the Principality Stadium filled 7 times!) is avoidable and would save the country £15 billion!! That would equate to about £70 per month for the average household.

The top ten most common food items that could have been eaten, but are often thrown away include:

  • Potato (fresh)
  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Meals (home-made and pre-prepared)
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Fruit juice & smoothies
  • Pork / ham / bacon
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
  • Carrots (fresh)
  • Potato (processed)

So how can you do your bit for the environment and save yourself a few quid?

Here are some things to think about:


  • Think about how much you cook. Do you have left overs? If you do, do you always use them up? If not, you could consider cooking for your housemates or freeze left overs to make another meal for yourself
  • Plan your meals so you don’t over shop
  • Share standard house items like bread, milk and eggs (which are some of the most common things that get thrown out).

Know your dates

All food has labels on it to tell you if food is safe to eat or not. But do you know the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’?

  • Best before: This is a guideline by which it is suggested that you should eat the food by. Most foods are absolutely fine to eat after this date, it’s just there to let you know when the food will be at its best quality. If it’s gone green, a bit furry and is sitting in a pool of horrible stuff in the bottom of your fridge, it may be best not to eat that one.
  • Use by: This date is usually law. Meat products, eggs and milk should not be consumed after this date. It’s probably best to stick to this one so that the toilet and/or the washing up bowl don’t become your best friend for a day or so.
  • Display until: If you see this on your food, then don’t even worry about it. It has nothing to do with how safe the food is to eat, or when to eat it by. This date is purely for the retailers and won’t affect you at all. But if it’s close to its display date, could this become a reduced item at the end of the day???
  • Sell by: Like with ‘display until’ there’s no need to worry about this date either. It’s purely for retail purposes! ‘Sell by 15/02/19’? This item could be heading towards the reduced section to.


  • If food is coming close to a use by date and you’re not ready to eat it yet, think if you can freeze it. For example, if you buy a large loaf of bread you might struggle to get through it before it turns a bit green. Why not put some of it in the freezer before this happens?
  • You remembered to put chicken in the freezer but how do you de-frost? Just put it in the fridge the night before you want to use it. It’s the same with most items your freezer.
  • Most food will tell you if it can be frozen and also how to defrost it safely.

Did you know…

  • If you defrost raw chicken, cook it and then there are leftovers, you can still freeze the leftovers!
  • Rice is one of the most common causes of food poisoning! If you have leftover rice you need to cool it as quickly as possible and make sure it is in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking it. If you put it in the fridge, or defrost it, you need to eat the leftover rice within 24 hours.

And how does this translate to saving money?

By managing your food shop and planning your meals you can stay in control of your food and this is going to impact on your budget because you won’t waste as much food. Watch Staying Savvy at the Supermarket for tips on your food shop and Dining on a budget for more ideas.

Did you have any idea of the scale of this issue?

No, we didn’t either until we learnt more about the campaign Love Food Hate Waste. Their website provides lots of useful information on how to cook on a budget, managing quantities and what you can freeze to get the most out of your food shop.

So why not save yourself a couple of quid while you food shop and do your bit for the environment.

Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and Money, Careers and Employability, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.


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