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
– 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.
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 www.foodwise.com.au.