When was the last time you really took notice of how much food ends up in your bin each week?
In Australia, 35% of the average household bin is food waste. That’s a whole lot of food and money going in to the trash each day.
The thing is, when we waste food, we’re not just wasting food. We’re also wasting all the resources that went into growing it, and causing additional damage to the environment through means of disposing of it. Food waste contributes greenhouse gas emissions, uses our precious freshwater supplies, costs millions of animals their lives and accounts for billions of dollars’ worth of human labour, not to mention the huge deforestation and drained wetlands sacrificed to produce food that is never eaten, or the mountains of fertiliser and pesticides applied for no purpose.
So how can you help? More than you know!
We’ve pulled together a few simple tips, from our home to yours, to cut food waste:
Shop smart – and realistically!
How many times have you popped to the shops for one thing, only to return with a full car boot? Take an honest look at your week ahead – how often will you be in? Who will actually be in? Could you get by with any food from the week before? Plan out your meals for the week and choose ingredients that can be easily incorporated into different meals should plans change.
Another top tip – don’t shop when you’re hungry! When your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you’re likely to over-spend on food you won’t want once you settle your hanger.
Watch your portions
Nobody likes being accused of being stingy, but do you really need to give the kids that extra sausage when you know it’s going to end up staying on their plate? Map out portions before you start cooking more accurately so you don’t end up trying to load extra food on to everyone’s plates.
Eating out? Don’t be shy asking for a doggy bag! Most servers will be glad to pack up a box for you, as they see first hand how much waste there is in restaurants and cafes.
Save (and actually eat) your leftovers
So you’ve beautifully packed up your leftovers from dinner – yay! Now comes the hard part. Making sure you eat them. We know that tucking into the same meal the next day isn’t always exciting, but storing leftovers to bin them 3 days later kinda defeats the point… Jazz things up by cooking your scraps into curries, stir fries, or into posh jaffles, or get extra sneaky and blend up sauces and soups.
Store food in the right places
Tired of spending money on fresh produce, only for it to go off too quickly? It might be down to where you keep it. Check out this cool infographic to nerd up on which food belongs where in the fridge, your cupboards and kitchen, to extend its shelf life.
Don’t take ‘best before’ dates too seriously
When it comes to expiration and sell-by dates, depending on the food, they usually indicate food quality, not food safety, and shouldn’t be chucked as soon as they hit their date. Use your head (and your senses) to determine when something has truly gone bad (not just slightly aged) instead of jumping the gun.
Stash it for later
Make your food go even further with pickling, dehydrating, preserving and freezing! This is particularly great for saving ingredients to use in their off-seasons, and will take your cooking to the next level when it comes to making tasty additions.
Think first, compost later
On the guidance of the Environmental Protection Agency, after reducing the amount of food you buy in the first place, you should try to repurpose your food in other ways BEFORE popping scraps in your compost bin. This includes feeding others who are without food, using it as animal feed, or offering it for industrial use like fuel conversion.
Have some ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them!