Love your leftovers

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

In the current economic climate, shoppers remain cautious about spending money. With rising food insecurity, an increasing amount of leftovers are hitting our stomachs, rather than hitting the bottom of the bin.

Consumer confidence has hit a five-year low, particularly in recent months (Kantar, Dec 2018). With this in mind, waste reduction is cited as one of the most popular ways to economise on grocery spend if times get tight (Kantar, Apr 2018). In 2008, at the height of the recession, an increased number of food items were consumed because ‘they needed using up’. Once again, an increasing number of the British public are eating their leftover food, with 75% of home cooks planning meals so they use up leftover ingredients (Mintel – Attitudes towards cooking in the home – UK, Jul 2018). In addition, the UK’s rising distaste for waste is in part due to environmental concerns, with 7 in 10 agreeing that food waste is harmful for the environment (WRAP).

Batch cooking in growth

Cooking more than needed for one particular meal is likely to be a deliberate act. Batch cooking is on the rise, with 22% more servings in 2018 compared with 2014, driven by young families. These ‘planned overs’, are perhaps the most valuable of all, providing quick and convenient meals for busy weekday evenings. Batch cooking consumption peaks on Mondays, accounting for 12% of all scratch cooked meals, declining each day to 6.5% on Sunday (Kantar, 52 w/e Dec 2018).

Pressure on foodservice

Leftovers in lunchboxes are also on the rise, peaking among families with grown-up children at home. In line with this, ‘lunching out’ frequency is down 3%, with more social occasions and less routine visits (MCA, 2019). More than 12 million more lunchbox occasions are being ‘prepared on another day’, than last year. This year, lunchboxes are the only meal occasion that cost less per person than last year (£1.86 vs £1.92) (Kantar, 52 w/e Dec 2018 vs 2017). Despite the sandwich remaining the go-to lunchbox option, there has been a noticeable decline in consumption. Consumers prefer to spice up their lunch boxes with Indian, Italian and Oriental foods, which lend themselves to leftovers (Kantar, Jul 2018).

Going forward

If consumers are more open to the idea of creating, and using bigger meals, this may open the door to using bigger cuts such as roasting joints. Retailers could offer recipe cards with hints and tips for meals using leftovers. Partnerships with cooking sauces, table sauces or pickles could capitalise on this by marketing their products for livening up leftovers.

Social media campaigns could capitalise on the younger generation’s appetite for posting photos of their meals online, combined with their enthusiasm to be more environmentally cautious, by encouraging them to post pictures of the delicious meals