Tips to reduce food waste

According to Australian hunger relief charity Foodbank, around 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted in Australia each year. This comes from what is not only unused or discarded in our homes and restaurants but also from food that never even reaches us because it’s turned away by suppliers or discarded for not being optimal or too close to their “use-by” or “best-before” date.

It’s estimated that on average we throw one in five shopping bags of food in the bin. So what can we do at home to reduce our food waste and at the same time save money on groceries? Here’s a few ideas:

Tip 1: Shop smarter

Plan meals in advance, make a shopping list and stick to it. Try using up the ingredients you have at home before shopping again and consider shopping more frequently instead of buying in bulk as some research suggests this can create more waste.

While selecting fresh fruit and veg, try not to be a perfectionist – a lot of produce is turned away from retailers for imperfections in their size, shape and colour but will taste the same and provide the same nutritional benefits and sometimes be sold at a discount.

Tip 2: Store fresh food correctly

Storing fresh produce incorrectly can lead them to ripen faster and spoil quicker. For instance, items like potatoes, tomatoes, garlic and onions shouldn’t be refrigerated while separating foods that produce ethylene gas as they ripen, like bananas and avocados, can prevent spoilage of other items.

Ideal storage may depend on the climate where you live so have a chat with your grocer for tips and hints.

Tip 3: Keep your fridge and pantry clutter-free

Sounds simple but the saying of “out of sight, out of mind” rings true. If you can see what’s available to you, you’ll be more likely to use it. Try sticking to the FIFO rule; first in, first out – this will help you keep an eye on expiration and best-before dates too.

Tip 4: Think about the whole fruit or vegetable

New cooking trends mean there’s plenty of creative ideas available for using up what would have previously discarded; like turning cauliflower stalks into cauliflower rice. Think about produce as a complete package – save the seeds as many are edible, eat the skin (there’s added nutritional benefits here too) and consider blending leftovers into smoothies. Even citrus peels can be useful and add a flavour punch to water.

Once you’ve used what you can, there’s still ways to make the most of the leftovers – try making a stock or composting for the garden.

Tip 5: Make a homemade stock

Instead of using store bought stock, save your veggie scraps to make stock. Freeze into portions and you’ll have a nutritionally rich stock on hand that tastes better than store bought anytime you need it.

Tip 6: Make the most of your freezer

This brings us to tip number 6, save leftovers and if you don’t think you’ll eat them while they’re fresh portion them up and freeze them. Don’t forget to keep portion sizes realistic to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste.

Sources: Foodbank, SBS, Government of NSW and Healthline