UK food shortages: 6 ways to make your food shopping go further


If you’ve been paying any attention to the news recently, you’ll know about the food shortages the UK has been experiencing this summer. Images of empty supermarket shelves and struggling fast food chains are never far away.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of seven ways you can protect yourself from food shortages by making your food shopping go further. 

First, though, let’s discuss the food shortages.

Why are food shortage stories in the news right now?

Whether you’ve been browsing online, scrolling through social media, or flicking through the news channels on your telly, you’re likely to have seen lots of footage and images of empty shelves recently. 

There’s been stories of Nando’s running out of chicken, McDonald’s being forced to stop selling milkshakes, and even Wetherspoons branches facing the nightmare scenario of running out of beer. 

The supermarkets haven’t been spared either. The boss of the Co-operative Group said we are currently experiencing the worst bout of food shortages that he had ever seen – so how did we end up here?

What is causing the food shortages?

Scotland, and the whole of the UK, has been hit by a potent mix of factors this summer that have contributed to the food shortages we’re now experiencing. The most immediately obvious is the pandemic. 

COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions have put industries under strain across the board, and retail and logistics (i.e. food delivery) have been hit harder than most. 

Speaking of logistics, the haulage industry has been experiencing a staff shortage for decades now, with more and more UK workers unwilling to work the long hours, in poor conditions, for very little pay, to deliver the food and supplies we need. 

Add to that the fact that Brexit has just made bringing goods into the UK a lot harder (through new immigration laws), and made it more difficult to find skilled lorry drivers (as most willing EU citizens no longer have the right to live and work in the UK). 

Taken together, these factors add up to a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers, disruption in the supply chain, and trouble getting goods from the field to the frozen section.

What can I do to make my food shopping go further?

Given that fresh produce is in short supply in certain parts of Scotland right now, we thought it might be a nice idea to share some tips on how you can make the most of your next trip to the supermarket.

Here are some top tips on how to make your food shopping last longer, maximize every ingredient and minimize the damage to your budget. 

1. Plan your meals

If you don’t have your meals planned out, it’s really easy to spend a lot of money at the supermarket, get home, and realise that what you’ve bought is a collection of ingredients – and not necessarily ingredients that combine to make great meals.

Planning out your weekly menu is a great way of making sure you have all the ingredients at home and don’t need to make an extra trip to the supermarket for forgotten items. 

Meal planning will help you make sure your shopping list fits your budget as well as the meals you want to create, and you can save yourself the money and hassle of popping back to the shops every day.

2. Batch cook

If you’re time poor, batch cooking is a great solution. Simply cook larger portions of your favourite meals on the weekend or whenever it’s convenient for you and keep them in the freezer until needed. 

Batch cooking is also a great way to save money. It allows you to use ingredients more efficiently and make sure there’s minimal waste. You’ll also be cooking larger portions, which means you can buy in bulk and save even more. 

3. Preserve food

If you’ve ever looked at something that’s about to spoil and wondered if there was a way to make it last longer, then you’ve obviously never been introduced to the world of food preservation.

If you have extra vegetables lying around, why not try turning them into a nice pickle that you can use later?

From canning and pickling, to curing and fermentation, there are various methods you can use to make ingredients that spoil easily, last longer. 

4. Make the most of your freezer

There are some great deals on food that you don’t want to miss out on, and one way to save money is to make the most of those deals by buying in bulk and freezing for later. 

One of the best places to snag a bargain is the reduced section of your local supermarket. The big chains don’t want to throw out good stock, so on the last day before the ‘use by’ date, they may reduce their prices by 90% or more. 

You may be wondering how you’re going to use three 50p legs of lamb in one day, but the beauty of freezing is that you don’t have to. In that scenario you can use one leg of lamb on the day, freeze the other two, and defrost them when it suits you.     

5. Reuse leftover ingredients

Nobody likes to throw away perfectly good food. Not only does it hurt your pocket, it just feels like such a waste. That’s why it’s important to reuse what you can.

Whether it’s using stale bread to make breadcrumbs, or using leftover wine to brew homemade vinegar, you can come up with some pretty amazing meals using what you already have at home if you’re willing to get creative.                                                  

6. Make your own

There are certain times in life where we’re willing to pay a premium for convenience. That’s exactly how the supermarket ready meal was born. 

You know the scenario: You’re running late for work in the morning and you don’t have time to make a sandwich, so instead you grab a microwave lasagna. It might not be great, but it’s easy. It’s also costly.

That convenience comes at a cost, so whenever you can, you should strive for homemade cooking. Making your own is not only cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff, but it allows you to control what goes into your meals and avoid harmful flavourings and additives.

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