For a nation of food-lovers, we also like to waste it: last year over $5 billion worth of food was thrown out in Australia. That amounted to 3 million tonnes, about 145 kilograms per person. Put another way, it is estimated that the average Australian throws away 20% of the food they buy.

Apart from the obvious financial consequences, such waste has a huge environmental impact. We can all take steps to reduce waste: follow these tips and you’ll not only be helping the environment, but looking after your own wallet.

  • Put together a weekly meal plan, before you go grocery shopping.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Know exactly what you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer and take this into account when making your shopping list.
  • Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry!
  • Plan your meals to use up ingredients you already have that are coming to the end of their shelf life.
  • Buy products with a later “use-by” or “best before” dates wherever possible.
  • Grow your own herbs. Potted herbs cost about the same as a bunch, but will last a lot longer.
  • Avoid pre-packaged meat and vegetables, as you have limited control over the quantity (and may end up buying more than you need).
  • Store dry goods such as breakfast cereals, biscuits and flour in airtight containers to maintain freshness.
  • Use the freezer – almost everything can be successfully frozen. Foods that can’t include:

– Vegetables with a high water content, such as cucumbers, celery and lettuce
– Egg-based, cream-based, and milk-based sauces, sour cream
– Cooked egg whites and raw egg yolks
– Mayonnaise
– Jams and jellies

  • Don’t throw away your leftovers – eat them within a couple of days or freeze them before they go off in the fridge.
  • Label and organise everything you freeze so you know what you have and where it is.
  • Don’t be tempted unnecessarily by 2-for-1 offers at the supermarket.
  • Get creative with your leftovers. You don’t always need a recipe to put a tasty meal together.
  • Most foods are fine after the “best before” date. It’s the “use by” dates you need to abide by more closely.
Grow your own herbs to reduce waste
Grow herbs to reduce waste

Here are a few ideas to help you use up your leftovers:

  • Bread is one of the biggest food waste items. Either freeze it sliced or make breadcrumbs and freeze for later use.
  • Leftover egg-whites can be frozen for up to three months. They can then be used to make a pavlova or meringues.
  • Use left-over vegetables to make a vegetable soup, stir-fry or pasta dish.
  • Use excess ripe fruit to make fresh juice, smoothies or jam.
  • Milk freezes well, so freeze it while it is still fresh if you have an excess.
  • Freeze parmesan rinds to add to a pot of soup – it really intensifies the flavour.
  • Use (or freeze) over-ripe bananas to make a banana cake or muffins.
  • Leftover cooked rice makes great fried rice.
  • Use leftover pasta to make a pasta bake.
  • Use (or freeze) leftover meat from a roast to make a curry or casserole another day.
  • Cheese freezes well. If you have a large block grate it, portion it, then freeze it.
  • If you have an excess of lemons or limes, juice them and freeze into ice-cube containers.
  • Over-ripe avocadoes make great guacamole.
  • Frittatas, omelettes and quiche are a great way to use up eggs and leftover meat, fish or vegetables.
  • Use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato cakes or fish cakes.

For more information on reducing food waste, visit

Soups are a great way to use up leftovers
Soups are a great way to use up leftovers

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  1. Great article. To help with this problem in the UK, I have developed Count On It food freshness labels to help households make the most of their food, reducing food waste, saving money and the environment. If you would like more information on this or would like to feature it, please contact me at the above email address or via Twitter @mummypreneur. Thanks

  2. Hey Gail, thanks for those wonderful & useful tips!

  3. Hi Mummypreneur, thanks for visiting and good to hear people are addressing this issue.

    Hi Sophie, Glad you enjoyed the tips!

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