Of Wasted Food and Prudence

Wasted food? What waste?

We constantly hear about all the food WE waste every year, what it is doing to our pockets as well as the environment.

I get very annoyed. I feel like yelling, ‘Please don’t include US in this waste statement, we are careful not to waste anything.’

Hardly anything goes into our general waste bin. Recycling stuff gets sorted and no food is left to throw away. It seems insane to waste money on food, which is unlikely to be eaten.

Of course, we were brought up in the days of rationing. Nothing was wasted. But we did not have the money to waste on uneaten food, or anything else, for that matter.

In wartime we had to queue for those little extras like offal — tripe, liver, kidneys, lungs, tongue, brains, trotters, dripping etc. and luxuries like rabbit. At one time we had to queue for bread. (I guess that was after our baker stopped calling at the house.) And, oh what tension to queue an hour, or more, for fish and chips, in the hope that they had not run out of fish before we were served. Fish with chips was usually for my dad, but we might get some crispy bits for a penny. We got pretty good at being inventive with food and I never recall us going hungry. Sweets being on ration was a good thing, and so was getting cod liver oil and malt every day. We ate vegetables and fruit as they came into season.

But we were often cold. Having poor circulation, I had severe chilblains every winter. No central heating and no power points even if we had an electric fire. With little coal due to rationing, there was usually just a fire in the kitchen. Gas often on low power too. That could spoil cakes but everything was eaten and enjoyed just the same. Washing by dolly-tub and mangle, drying outside or over a line in the kitchen. Even if clothes had not been on coupons we did not have the money to buy new ones unless needed. Pipes froze in winter, even those that ran through our bedroom. And beautiful patterns of ice decorated the inside of our bedroom window. Yes, we would play happily in the snow but we sure did suffer afterwards with hot-aches and swollen toes and heels.

You might think that once everything went off ration, and that was some time after the war, we would splash out on food and clothes. To do that would cost money and wages or salaries, and that were not as high as they are today. After we were married, we continued to be careful with our pennies and save for what we really wanted — a home of our own. I made my own clothes and we did our own repairs etc etc. Debt was considered shameful and saving for a rainy day prudent. Retail therapy? ‘Must have’? That would have been a way to ruin.

Credit cards? No such things. Mortgages? Hard to get, and a deposit required. There had to be enough salary of just one breadwinner to make the repayments, or no mortgage.


To a large extent, I blame the supermarkets that sell ’offers’ — two for one, or three for the price of two, or any three for £10. To buy one only, means you are being overpriced and, unless I want and can use the ‘bargain’ offer, I will not buy at all. Too many fattening foods are sold this way, and too much perishable stuff that is likely to be thrown out. Okay, freezing helps with food like meat, but I prefer to buy according to my meal planning. We have always eaten simple but enjoyable food and I ignore the cookery programmes on TV. Left overs? Plenty of ways to use them up. Why throw money away? For everything that is bought is bought at a budgeted price.
We were taught to cook at school. Simple and satisfying meals, simple receipes that can be adapted to any taste, enriched if required, added to as necessary. Waste was NOT part of planned meals. Nothing thrown in a bin. Soups, broths, pies, turnovers, sandwiches, puddings etc can use up what is left. Nowadays we have fridges to keep things longer too.

Packaging, long-distance travel of people and goods; all these things affect our environment. Moderation in all things would be a good motto for all of us to live by. Prudent buying and a simpler lifestyle can bring greater happiness, than overspend that causes guilty feelings (and comfort eating?)

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One Response to “Of Wasted Food and Prudence”

  1. Randy Says:

    Very greatful for the information presented. I have a great time reading your content. Keep it up.

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