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Billingshurst Creatives is now open, 10am - 4:30pm Tuesday to Saturday at 2 Jengers Mead!
Please note we have half day closing on Wednesdays after 1pm and closed all day Monday.
This fantastic new co-operative shop for local artists and makers still has some spaces available to rent - to find out more and request an application form, please email email@example.com
Here is a guide to not only shopping smarter, but making sure you get the most from what you DO buy
A report from West Sussex Environment and Climate Change Board published last year highlighted that food accounts for around a third of the county’s domestic waste1. This is equivalent to around 58Kg of food waste per resident annually. As food accounts for around 20% of our carbon footprint in West Sussex, cutting food wastage can help us to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as allowing households to save money on their weekly food bills. An estimated 60 to 80% of food waste is preventable, so taking smart steps when buying food, storing it and cooking meals can lead to significant savings.
If you are not currently in the habit of planning your meals for the week, this is a good habit to get into2. Once you know the ingredients you need for your planned recipes, it is far easier to make a shopping list that includes just those items you require. This gives you a better idea of the quantities of fresh items you need to buy, so you are less likely to over purchase fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy produce, meat and fish. However, when considering recipes, remember you can use these as just a guide, so you can substitute more unusual ingredients that may sit in your fridge or cupboard unused for those that you will get good use out of3.
When it comes to your food shop you may also want to consider buying more frozen items. This doesn’t mean using convenience foods, which are often less nutritious and an expensive choice, but choosing frozen fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. The vitamin and mineral content is locked in at the time of freezing, so they are often a better choice nutritionally, but in terms of food wastage this is another good bet. Indeed, research shows that using frozen food generates close to half the waste of fresh items, as food in the freezer has a far longer shelf life than chilled produce4.
The fresher produce is, the longer it will keep once you put it in your fridge. You can’t get any fresher than the fruit and vegetables you may grow in your garden or allotment, but if growing your own isn’t an option, you can source your food from local growers and retailers that stock items sourced from the county. If you aren’t familiar with the farm shops and independent retailers available locally, lists of those in West Sussex are available online5, and buying in the area additionally helps to support the local economy.
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Continued from previous column
While it is obvious that items like fresh meat, fish and dairy produce need to be stored in the fridge, you can often maximise the end date of items in jars and bottles by keeping them refrigerated, as well as chilling most fruit and vegetables too. However, there are exceptions, such as aubergines, potatoes, squashes and tomatoes, which need to be kept somewhere cool and dry like a cupboard. Don’t be tempted to wash fruit and vegetables before storage either, as the water can accelerate spoilage. Besides tricks to extend the lifetime of produce, remember that those items with a “best before date” are usually still edible once that date is reached, they just might not be at their best, so don’t be too hasty to throw out these items; though always adhere to “use by” dates, as after this time they may not be safe to eat.
Following recipes can help you to only cook as much of a particular dish that you need to feed your family. However, cooking double portions can save you time and money, and making bigger batches is useful when you have a lot of extra ingredients to use up. If you find that after a meal you do have extra servings of any element, always consider whether you could cover the items in the fridge to use in another dish or freeze them for another day. Soups and stews are a good way to use up leftover vegetables, starchy foods and meat, though you can be as creative as you want when putting surplus food to good use6. Keeping well stocked up with store cupboard essentials like pasta, rice, canned tomatoes and dried pulses always means that you have enough items to make a meal with any leftovers the next day, though it is always a good idea to weigh out dried foods to avoid cooking excess.
Don’t forget to recycle all you food and drink containers made from glass, metal, cardboard and plastic7. Although food waste isn’t collected as part of doorstep recycling in Billingshurst, you can compost your fruit and vegetable peelings and egg shells at home. If you don’t already have your own composter, West Sussex County Council is working in partnership with Get Composting to offer you cut price compost bins8. If you grow your own produce, you can then use the compost as a natural fertiliser, making it even more economical to grow your own fruit and vegetables.