eating habits research reveals 'credit crunch munching' trend

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Research by highlights UK public's frugality and vulgarity: Four in five UK households keep meal leftovers; but nearly a third of people confess to eating mouldy food. Chewing with your mouth open is considered the most disgusting eating habit

Plan what you're going to cook, the ingredients required and number of portions, otherwise you end up wasting food.

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Eating habits research by has highlighted a 'credit crunch munching' trend and increasing public awareness about food wastage.

The economic downturn has fostered a well-documented retreat to the kitchen and's findings suggest that people are taking this opportunity to hone their cooking skills and reduce food waste. A DEFRA report on food packaging and labelling this week highlighted the food waste problems in the UK.

Four in five of us often (36%) or always (45%) keep leftovers after a meal but some are making their food stretch even further. More than a third (35%) admit to eating food past its use-by date regularly and 28% confess to eating food that has gone mouldy (after removing the mouldy bits). 8% say they eat takeaways for breakfast. has teamed up with cooking talent Jun Tanaka, executive chef at Pearl Bar and Restaurant, to provide tips to home cooks. Tanaka insists that food planning helps people reduce waste and urges people to run their home kitchen like a professional kitchen. "Plan what you're going to cook, the ingredients required and number of portions, otherwise you end up wasting food."

"Get creative and use up what's in your fridge on time. That's where websites like can help. Do a search using the ingredients you have in cupboards and get cooking," he says. is offering people the chance to win a private cooking lesson with Jun Tanaka at his London restaurant on 4th July. Go to for details.

Other findings include: More than a third of UK adults (35%) admit to licking their knives while they eat and nearly a quarter (23%) confess to using their finger to clean their plate. Nearly half UK adults (44%) say chewing with your mouth open is the most disgusting food habit; a third say eating off the floor/ground is worse and 13% say licking your plate.

Half of all UK households sit down for a roast together at least once a fortnight; with nearly a third eating a roast together every week. Meanwhile, a third (33%) of households eat meals together once a day but close to a third (28%) also watch TV while they eat. For full survey findings go to

Tasty cooking on a budget:
Two in five (39%) households say they are buying fewer ready-made sauces and salads and are cooking more meals from scratch compared to a year ago. And it seems that people actually care about what they're cooking, with half of households (51%) rating taste as the most important criterion for their family when it comes to deciding what to cook.

Tanaka's tip: Buy the freshest ingredients you can afford. After meat, processed and packaged goods are the most expensive items in your shopping trolley. Make your own. Not only will you save money but your food won't be loaded with the salt and sugar found in most pre-prepared food.

What we eat and how we eat it:
We like to think we eat healthily but for two in five (41%), the main snack is biscuits/cake, and a third (33%) chomp on chocolate between meals. Nine in 10 of us believe we're healthy but only one fifth always eat their fruit and vegetable allocation. Men are more likely to snack on unhealthy things than women.

Meanwhile, 25% say their guilty food secret is eating a packet of biscuits in one sitting and one in four (22%) confess to eating ice-cream direct from the tub. 15% admit eating huge quantities of food in one sitting and 10% put their hand up to drinking out of the milk bottle.

The nation's collective table manners need sharpening up with people in agreement that chewing with your mouth open and eating off the floor are the most despicable habits. However, licking your knife is almost acceptable with more than a third admitting to it and just 1.5% considering it offensive.

Tanaka's tip: Good manners can help to heighten your appreciation of food. However, I don't think you can truly appreciate food if you count calories and worry about what you're eating all the time.

Quality time or air time?
With half of families still gathering for a Sunday roast at least once a fortnight, and a third of families eating together at least once a day, family mealtimes are playing an important role during the recession. But with nearly a third of families watching TV while they eat everyday there is some cause for concern. Despite this, nearly half of UK adults described the family meal as quality time with just over 3% saying it was stressful.

Tanaka's tip: Take time to savour your food, focus on what you're eating and enjoy the company of those you are eating with. Shut your lap top and turn off your mobile phone.

Building confidence:
More than two in five (44%) are put off cooking by complicated recipes "Many cookbooks make an assumption about what people may or may not know. That's where cooking videos and programmes come in handy because they provide you with step-by-step know-how," Tanaka says. He has put this approach into practice with his new cookbook 'Simple to Sensational'.

Register on to save and organise recipes; share your own recipes with the community, create video playlists, and enter competitions.

Notes to editor
Regional breakdown of results available (and case studies)
All results are based on a nationwide online survey with nearly 2000 people, run in conjunction with in April 2009.

Heather Peacocke - +44 7989979582

Developed by Scripps Networks in conjunction with Limited, ( is an online food experience with a difference. Its recipes and videos have been developed by culinary talent worldwide.

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Heather Peacocke
Foodtv UK
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Mark Haupt
Foodtv UK
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