2.1m tonnes of perfectly edible food is being binned every year as we reach for the easy option of shop-bought sandwiches and take away meals, according to the Government-backed Waste & Recycling Action Plan (WRAP).

Neglected bread, cheese, cold meats, yoghurts and crisps are among the items that WRAP says would better serve as part of a packed lunch than helping to fill the nation’s bins.

The amount of food wasted this way is costing British shoppers over £5bn each year, says the study.

“There’s obviously a move by some of us to save money and bring lunch to work and this new survey shows that some of us could be saving up as much as £120 each to spend at Christmas, if we start free lunching now,” said Julia Falcon from WRAP spin off Love Food Hate Waste.

“Most of the time there’s a packed lunch waiting in the fridge if only we noticed it and there really is such a thing as a ‘free lunch’ when you take last night’s leftovers with you.”

The research also shows that although over 80% of British workers have access to a microwave and 86% to a fridge at the office, only one in five uses up leftovers for lunch.

“As the days start to get colder a piping hot lunch made from last night’s leftovers could be a welcome option for busy workers,” says Ms Falcon.

37% of the people surveyed said they would use their leftovers for lunch if they had more ideas about how to use them.

is featuring ‘Free Lunching’ in the lead up to Christmas, with new, fuss free ideas on making up great packed lunches from items already in the fridge.

The website also includes helpful advice on using leftovers and information on how to store foods safely.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie