The hard-pressed consumers were minimising food waste by cooking with leftovers, making smaller portions and freezing more to save money, according to the consumer watchdog.
Jamie Oliver said: “I've had so many requests for advice on how to save money on food without compromising on taste, so I'm not surprised that Which? has found people are being really careful. It’s the main reason I wrote the ‘Save with Jamie’ book and filmed the TV series.”
Food costs have rocketed
Food costs have rocketed over the past six years with prices climbing about 12% above inflation, while incomes have stagnated, according to Which?
Eight-in-10 shoppers (78%) were worried about rising food prices. Nearly half (45%) reported spending a larger proportion of their income on food compared with a year ago.
Up to a half of consumers said they had either frozen food or cooked with leftovers to save money. Two in five (39%) admitted cooking smaller portions, to avoid binning food.
Which? said consumers were changing their shopping habits in a bid to cut food waste. About a third (35%) reported buying less food and a quarter (26%) said they preferred top-up shops rather than one main food shop.
More than a third (35%) admitted disregarding use by dates on food packets. But four-in-10 (43%) said they had started to check the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates more often.
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said rocketing food prices were changing consumers’ buying and cooking habits. “Our research shows that, with more people feeling the squeeze, they are buying less food and even paying for it with their savings,” said Lloyd.
‘Best value for money deals’
Supermarkets could help by assisting shoppers in finding the best value for money deals, he added.
“We want supermarkets to help people find the best deal by displaying simpler pricing and ensuring that special offers are genuinely good value for money,” said Lloyd.
Meanwhile, Oliver has launched a new campaign – timed to coincide with the publication of his latest book ‘Save with Jamie’, which offers top tips to help consumers cut food waste.
“As everyone knows, I consider the public to be my ‘boss’, so I set about working on something that would really help people to save money by shopping cleverly, cooking smartly and using their leftovers to waste less and create incredible meals at the same time,” said Oliver.
“It's about embracing tips, ideas and principles that you can easily adopt into your everyday life, all of which should make a good difference to your wallet.”
Jamie Oliver’s top tips on food waste:
1. “Make a shopping list. I know it sounds obvious, but that way you’ll avoid doubling up and wasting things later
2. Frozen veg is perfect for many types of cooking and you can just grab a handful of what you need when you need it
3. If you have too much fruit then freeze it before it goes off. You can then make it into smoothies or add yogurt and blend into a delicious ‘ice cream’ when the mood takes you.
4. Knowing how to joint a chicken is a really brilliant skill to have. You can buy a whole chicken for just a little bit more than the cost of two chicken breasts.
5. If you have a surplus of herbs, don’t throw them away. You can make and freeze herb butters, or freeze ice cube trays of herb oils. Alternatively you can dry them somewhere warm like an airing cupboard and use them up as you need them.”
Source: Jamie Oliver