CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Stop wasting food

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Stop wasting food

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Stop wasting food or you’ll be sent to the chest freezer of doom

Eat Well For Less?

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Secret Spenders: Beat the Price Rises

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The average British family throws away £60 of food a month. That’s unopened packets of sausages and chicken, mouldy veg, stale bread, sour milk — all in the bin.

Gregg Wallace has been pleading with us to do something about it, on Eat Well For Less? (BBC1), for seven years. But we don’t listen, and now the poor chap has given up.

He’s been replaced by Jordan Banjo, who joins co-presenter Chris Bavin in urging us to stop buying takeaways when we’ve already got a fridgeful of grub.

But where this show has failed, I’m afraid the grim toll of real-life economics will be more effective. Gregg Wallace is annoying, but inflation is much worse. In the wake of the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics warned this week it is running at 9 per cent.

Jordan Banjo joins co-presenter Chris Bavin in urging us to stop buying takeaways when we’ve already got a fridgeful of grub

I’m ancient enough to remember the 1970s when prices were rising more than 20 per cent a year. Food didn’t get chucked then.

Everything uneaten was either doled out as leftovers the next day or frozen in tupperware tubs. I still shudder at the memory of the coffin-like chest freezer in our garage — I had to lean in from the waist to rummage for ice-hard trays of potato pie, and if the lid came down on me, I knew I wouldn’t be getting out.

My mother, who grew up under rationing, was brilliant at shopping for supermarket bargains. I learned maths working out the price per ounce of competing jumbo boxes of cornflakes.

This might sound like smug nostalgia. But inflation is a wage cut for everyone, and one inevitable effect is that we’ll all stop wasting food. The advice served up repeatedly on Eat Well For Less will become common sense.

Chris had a basic lesson for his new sidekick as he talked Jordan through the difference between ‘use by’ dates on food and the ‘best before’ sticker.

In short, ‘use by’ is a warning to be heeded. Some food, especially meat, is dangerous when it goes off. ‘Best before’ is practically meaningless, merely an indication of when food was packaged. A chocolate bar can be delicious a year or more after its ‘best before’ date expires.

Anita Rani was handing out more of the same advice on Secret Spenders: Beat The Price Rises (C4)

All the ‘best before’ label does is trick people into dumping perfectly good food. It ought to be banned.

Chris and Jordan had plenty of other tips on saving money and minimising waste for a lovely family in Glasgow, the Stirrats. Parents Andy and Karen, with five-year-old triplets, already had far too much to cope with: one of their children, Caleb, has terminal cancer.

When life gets tough, problems pile up — and inflation makes everything harder.

Anita Rani was handing out more of the same advice on Secret Spenders: Beat The Price Rises (C4).

But Anita seems to assume most people are well-off, and just need a little guidance in managing their wealth.

She met Zanif, a would-be Instagram ‘influencer’ in Cardiff, who was splashing more than £100-a-time on beauty treatments. Zanif believed these were ‘essential’. She also spent £1,500 on her boyfriend Mario’s 25th birthday, showering him with designer trinkets to ‘align his dress sense’ with hers. ‘We are a brand,’ she explained.

Anita persuaded her to save more of her money for a mortgage. That’s a financial dilemma most young people would envy.

Co-presenter Anna Whitehouse was even less realistic. She tested a classic Arne Jacobsen Egg chair in cream suede for £12,000 and recommended we should buy a replica in orange cloth instead — a snip at £679.

Whatever planet Anna lives on, I’d love to visit.

Vanishing act of the night: Nick Knowles and his team were about to start renovating a Thames houseboat, on his Big House Clearout (C5), when it disappeared — towed away by a tug for repairs. That wasn’t the clearout Nick was expecting.

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