Did you know that Aussies throw out $10billion of edible food per year?! With the average household wasting 14 percent of their weekly groceries. That’s the equivalent of $1000 in food waste per household each and every year. Just think what you could do with that money instead! Think about the time, energy and resources it takes our farmers to grow the food that you throw out. And what about the greenhouse gases this food produces once in landfill, and the impact that it then has on the environment? Then there’s the issue of world hunger… the United Nations estimates that one in nine people in the world do not have access to sufficient food to lead a healthy life.
So yeah, food waste is a pretty big deal. But as with most things, it starts with YOU. Right here, in your own household. One simple change at a time. But you won’t just reduce your food waste you’ll also save money. And who doesn’t want that?! Here are 11 tips to get you started…
1. Take stock of what you already have
Before shopping for more food, check out what you’ve already got. You’d be surprised what you can find lurking at the back of your pantry!
2. Plan your meals
Once you know the food you already have, you can plan your meals for the week ahead taking those ingredients into account. Consider what can be made with those tinned tomatoes, half a packet of pasta and the random veggies in the bottom of your fridge. Think of your meal plan as a guide – you don’t have to be rigid with it. If Wednesday rolls around and you don’t feel like the Spag Bol you’d planned then just pick one of the other meals.
3. Write a shopping list
Based on the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks you’ve planned for the week, now you can list the ingredients you’ll need to pull it all together. Shopping with a list will ultimately save you time and money too, but only if you stick to it!
4. Buy only what you need
Using a shopping list certainly helps you avoid those impulse purchases, but you also need to consider how much of an ingredient you need. It’s great to have a well-stocked pantry, but how many uses will you really have for that obscure ingredient you once bought for a recipe? Shopping online will also help you to keep on track. Plus you won’t have the hassle of finding a parking spot, traipsing through the shops and then loading it all in your car. Surely that’s worth the delivery fee, right?!
5. Support local growers
Keep your money local by supporting small businesses in your area. Buying from places like The Organic Butler means you’re getting produce straight from the farm, as nature intended, without all the waxes and sprays and over the-top packaging. And even though it looks appetising and is perfectly edible, it’s often the stuff that the big supermarkets would otherwise reject. You’d be amazed how much produce Aussie farmers are forced to waste if the supermarkets reject it when it doesn’t meet their strict guidelines for colour, weight and size!
6. Buy the “odd” or reduced produce
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need my apples to be coated in wax, perfectly polished or identical in size. I enjoy looking for the weirdest produce now, because I’d hate to see it go to waste for not being “perfect” enough. Juicing carrots for instance, are just as nutritious as regular ones – they’re just all different shapes and sizes. I pretty much always snap up reduced produce too. Even if you can’t cook with it right away, it can be frozen for when you’re ready to use it… hello brown spotty bananas!
7. Sort your food in order of what needs using first
When unpacking your grocery shopping at home make sure the stuff that needs using first in your fridge is brought to the front. Or keep a special shelf in your fridge for all the produce that needs to be eaten first.
8. Embrace your freezer
There’s no reason for food to go to waste if you have a freezer. Bananas can be peeled and frozen for smoothies, herbs can be blended with olive oil or coconut water and frozen in ice cube trays, veggies can be turned into soups, meat can be portioned up into containers in the freezer until you’re ready to cook with it… you get the idea.
9. Store your food well
Investing in glass jars and containers will help keep the food in your pantry fresher for longer, and you’ll also be able to see what you have more easily. Learning which conditions are best for certain ingredients will help prolong their life too. For example, some nuts and seeds can go rancid in the pantry and are actually better stored in the fridge.
10. Use the whole plant or animal
Those celery leaves are perfectly fine thrown into a stock or soup, and the leftover bones from a roast chicken are ideal for making broth with. Once you’re more conscious about avoiding waste, you’ll find all sorts of uses for the food you may have thrown out in the past.
11. Love your leftovers
There’s no need to force ourselves to finish what’s on our plates anymore. We can be far kinder to ourselves than that by simply eating until we feel satisfied. Whatever we don’t finish can be saved for lunch the next day or re-purposed into another night’s meal. For instance, leftover roast veggies can be used as another side dish or turned into a casserole, hash or soup.
So there you have it… a few simple changes that can make a whole lotta difference to your food waste, and your budget. Just remember this simple mantra: “love food NOT waste”.
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