But now, one supermarket is to attempt to solve the conundrum by introducing a service to allow customers to buy specific portion sizes for ingredients for popular dishes such as chilli and fish pie.
Fresh food counters at Morrisons stores will take into account the number of people the customer is feeding and even their budget after feedback from shoppers found that people floundered when buying exact weights of meat or fish.
Research found that many people feel daunted by knowing how much of a certain food they should buy for a typical portion or to make a particular kind of dish.
As part of the new initiative, signage and recipe ideas at the butchers, fishmongers and deli counters will describe how much of an ingredient should be bought for popular meals, while storage, cooking and recipe advice will also be offered to help stretch household budgets.
Meanwhile, guidance on the number of portion sizes will be written on counter labels for cuts of meat, fish, cheese, tapas and olives to help guide customers.
The supermarket said it wanted the “We’ll Weigh What You Need” initiative to help young, single or empty-nester households who are looking for alternatives to ‘preset’ larger pack sizes which can lead to increased amounts of food waste.
Jayne Wall, director of Market Street operations at Morrisons said: “Listening to customers has told us they want help at our fresh food counters, because they don’t know how much to buy, they want to reduce their food waste, or they want to reduce the cost of their food shop.“Our expert counter staff will help them buy exactly what they need, reducing their food waste bill and saving their pennies in the process.”
Morrisons said it hopes the move will reduce the amount of food thrown away in customers’ homes. Morrisons, alongside other businesses, this week signed up to a number of commitments including pledging to halve food waste by 2030.
Iain Clunie, head of food and drink at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Helping shoppers to only buy the food they need could really help to reduce the huge amount of food which is wasted each year across Scotland. Scottish households collectively throw out around 600,000 tonnes of food and drink each year and most of this is avoidable.
“Better planning of meals and food shopping is one of the key ways in which people can reduce the amount of food they throw out. That, along with making better use of your freezer and canny use of leftovers, could save each Scottish household around £440 a year.”