Big shop plastic

We’ve been trying to save money recently after we noticed that we were spending nearly £600 a month on food and household shopping. £600! This was shocking for many reasons:

  • Myself and my husband are both vegan
  • Our kids are fussy eaters who don’t eat much
  • We don’t have any pets
  • We make our lunch to take to work most days

So the only conclusion we could come to was that we were spending about £300 a month too much on crap from Morrisons shoved in the trolley at high speed to get in and out of the shop as quickly as possible without either child having a meltdown. Plus many cartons of the ridiculously expensive Oatly Barista oat milk.

What do you get with £600 worth of food a month? Other than a sizeable chunk out of our overdraft, we also got a whole heap of plastic, much of which we can’t recycle in our blue bins. For some reason Sheffield Council’s recycling service won’t allow you to recycle plastic bags or containers. This means that me and the kids have to make regular trips down to the recycling bins in the Homebase car park, a depressing, fly-tipped mess most visits.

The amount of plastic we were having to recycle was shocking – remember, this mountain of plastic doesn’t include:

  • Meat packaging
  • Dairy packaging
  • Shop bought lunch packaging

The plastic we were recycling was only from fruit, vegetables and a bit from Evan’s baby snacks and some yoghurt pots Joni likes. Also, I feel guilty enough to actually take this extra plastic to be recycled and I’m sure there are many people who are too busy, don’t know they can recycle it or just don’t care enough to get rid of it properly.

So, in a bid to cut down our spending and the amount of plastic waste we were producing, we’ve decided to start shopping online. There have been some initial teething problems with this. To shop online successfully, you have to:

  • Be able to plan ahead
  • Be able to resistant ridiculous offers on stuff you’ll never eat
  • Be able to stay up until 9.30pm for the cheapest delivery slots (£5 for a Saturday morning delivery? No thank you.)

Thanks to we have managed to cut the cost of the big shop to about £40 a week, before this it was around £90. But, we’re still spending about £15 a week on trips to the local Co-op near our house or the little Tesco round the corner from our work. Incidentally, I bought a £3 sandwich from this Tesco yesterday as the alternative was to buy a pre-prepared salad in a huge plastic bowl. I opened the sandwich bag to find the wrap nestled snugly in a plastic container. Cue the extra guilts for not having enough time to bring my own lunch to work.

Shopping online also means that fruit and veg that I would have normally put in the trolly loose, comes in at least one, sometimes two, plastic bags or, as with mushrooms, instead of being able to use a paper bag, the veggies comes in a plastic tray instead.

Online shopping does seem to be the way forward but I get the feeling that to make it truly successful I have to hone my waste-free skills and maybe find a supermarket that offers options that create less plastic waste but are also nice and cheap.

Feeling good

  • Taking the first steps towards changing our unsustainable food shopping habits

Feeling bad

  • Still buying shopping with lots of excess plastic and packaging
  • Bought an overpriced lunch in plastic packaging


  • To find a balance between bargain food prices and ethical shopping

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