Food waste is a huge global issue, creating billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases (major culprits in climate change) and occupying precious land and water resources. According to the Government, food waste costs the Australian economy an estimate of $20 billion with Australian households throwing away around 3.1 million tonnes of food each year.
However, there are changes we can implement in our day to day life to make a big difference in the amount of food we throw away each year. Take a look at our list of tips for reducing food waste below and try to implement them into your household!
KEEP TRACK OF THE FOOD YOU THROW AWAY
Before you start your waste reduction journey, keep track of all the things you throw away over the course of a week. This will show you just how much and what you throw away. If you are always pouring old milk down the drain, take note and buy a smaller carton next week. Similarly, if you are always tossing out limp carrots and wilted spinach leaves, buy a smaller bunch next time or consider other ways to use them up.
Create a meal plan each week and make a list of all the amounts you need from the store – don’t forget to bring your list with you so you don’t get distracted and buy unnecessary items. Need some tips for meal prepping? Head to our blog Meal Prep 101 >>
BUY EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED
For example, if a recipe calls for two carrots, don’t buy a whole bag. Instead, buy loose produce so you can purchase the exact number you’ll use. Likewise, try buying baking ingredients, nuts, seeds and spices from bulk bins so you can measure out exactly what you need. Head to your nearest market or bulk food store for a wide variety of loose goods.
Correctly storing your products will help keep them fresher for longer. We recommend storing pantry staples in an airtight jar – preferably glass. Also make sure the items that have a shorter shelf life are stored where you can see them – don’t let them get lost at the back of the fridge! After you buy new groceries, move the older products to the front so you consume them first.
USE ‘BEST BEFORE’ DATES AS A GUIDE
'Use By' and 'Best Before' dates are actually two different things. A 'Use By' date signifies when food must be consumed by for health and safety reasons. You will find it on highly perishable foods, such as meat, fish, some dairy products and ready-made meals, and any other items that are a high risk once expired.
On the other hand, A 'Best Before' date is used to indicate peak quality rather than safety. Once a food item has passed its 'Best Before' date, it may start to decline in quality, however, it should be still okay to eat. As a general rule, if the food looks, smells, and tastes okay, it should be fine. If any of these elements are off, then it’s time to toss it.
CANNING & FERMENTING
Canning and fermenting is a great way to preserve food (especially fruit) and increase its shelf life for months.
USE IT ALL
Produce doesn’t have to be tossed just because it’s reaching the end of its peak. Soft fruit can be used to make jam or in smoothies; wilting vegetables can be used in soups or to make stock, etc. Plus, both wilting fruits and veggies can be turned into delicious, nutritious juice – and don’t throw away the pulp either! It contains a good source of fibre that can be added to smoothies or soups.
Other ways you can repurpose food include:
- Use citrus fruit rinds and zest to add flavour to other meals or create your own DIY cleaners.
- Turn the strained pulp of DIY almond milk into an almond flour - perfect for baking cookies and cakes.
- Stale bread? Grind it into breadcrumbs or toast to make croutons.
- Take your leftover coffee grounds and create a DIY body scrub.
- Pop your coffee grounds and leftover tea leaves in your pot plants or garden for some extra nutrients!
- Drying leftover herbs and chillies is a good way to preserve them for later use. If you don't have the patience to hang-dry them, try drying them out in a low-heated oven for speedy results.
STEMS AND SKINS
Leave the skin on cucumbers, carrots and potatoes. Sauté broccoli and cauliflower stems along with the florets and so on. Often the skins and stems of vegetables are the most nutritious parts so it is quite a shame to throw them away! Simply washing your veg before you use it is a great way to save waste.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREEZER
Store leftover meals in the freezer for when you need a grab-and-go dinner. Some other ways you can make the most of your freezer include:
- Divide leftover tomato paste, coconut cream, oils, stock, sauces and more into ice cube trays for handy portions.
- Chop up fresh herbs, put them in an ice tray, cover with oil and freeze. The result is fresh portions of herbs ready to throw into the pan when needed.
- Overripe bananas? Chop up and freeze, ready to make a banana cake or dairy-free ice cream.
Scraps from onions, carrots, leeks, herbs and celery are fantastic for stock making. Simply add to a pot with enough water to just cover (3/4 of the pot). Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes – or longer for more flavour. Strain and enjoy!
Refrigerate your stock up to 4 days, or freeze up to 3 months. Freeze in portion sizes so you don’t have to thaw the whole batch when you want to use it. You may even store your veggie scraps in the freezer until you’re ready to make your stock.
Have enough homemade stock already? Start a compost bin or a worm farm. There is even an app where you can find people in your area that have composts and are happy to take in your food scraps! Find out more here >>
If you are lucky enough to have chickens in your backyard or know somebody who does, you can feed them some of your food scraps – in fact, a broad diet creates the tastiest eggs! Learn more about what you can feed your chickens here >>
Never going to eat that can of beans? Donate it to a charity or organisation such as Oz Harvest before it expires so it can be consumed by someone who needs it. Locate a food bank near you >>