It is hard to know where to start with food waste. We've put together nine of our top tips to help you reduce the waste coming out of your kitchen and save you money!
Each year, Australians waste an equivalent of one in five bags of groceries. Here are some helpful tips to stop you from wasting food and becoming a more conscious eater.
Food waste is all of the ingredient scraps, packaging and discarded leftovers from a cooked meal. Food waste is responsible for about 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with an average of 300kg of food wasted per person in Australia.
So what can we do? Well, the answer is in our kitchens. Apart from changing our diets, how we buy groceries and how we cook tells us so much about why we produce so much waste.
You’re finished cooking but don’t want to use the produce scraps. Composting is a popular method to give a second life to your leftovers. A lot of the waste from your kitchen is actually compostable, such as produce scraps, crushed egg shells, old paper, tea and coffee grounds, and much more.
Despite a ban on disposable plastic bags at checkouts, grocery stores still provide consumers with single use bags for loose produce items. Produce is also unnecessarily packaged in non-recyclable plastic containers and bags.
We don’t need to bag every single bit of produce we purchase, first opt for the loose fruit and veg so you avoid the packaging & just buy what you need. Hot tip it is often cheaper per 100kg too! And try just putting them in your bag without a plastic bag for each of them. If you really need a bag go over to the mushrooms and use a paper one!
Ethically produced and recycled produce bags are out there for those of you who are yet to pick up some. These options are great because they are multipurpose, often machine washable and affordable.
Stick to the list
More often than not, when we do the weekly grocery shop, we can become overwhelmed with new or discounted items. We tend to purchase above what we need or planned to buy, leading to a build up in our fridge and pantry.
Staying disciplined at the supermarket may be difficult. Albeit old fashioned, a shopping list can help you stay on track and never go really hungry! Jotting down some items you need in your phone’s notes app will help deter you from aimlessly wandering the aisles and keep you from impulse buying.
Buy less, more
A big grocery shop once a week isn’t suitable for everyone. Shopping without a proper plan for every ingredient purchased means a higher risk of food waste, especially with fresh produce which only lasts a few days. Our cravings and dining plans can change at the last minute, so it’s hard to make sure all of our groceries get used up.
This may be harder for big and busy families, but for our city living friends who only cook for themselves, it may be worth changing to a more frequent grocery trip. This way you’ll be sure you need it and it won’t go to waste.
Fresh vs. frozen
Fresh produce tends to have a short shelf life, so you may not get around to using all the fruits and veggies you buy.
Your freezer is your new best friend. Buying frozen produce is actually has higher nutritional value than fresh produce, as it gets frozen straight after harvest, meaning all the vitamins and antioxidants are trapped inside, unlike fresh produce, which goes through various stages of processing and may start to wilt and go bad before you even make it home from the store. Berry & spinach are great freezer items!
We get so caught up in work and other responsibilities that when it comes to meals, although we might have a fully stocked kitchen, we may not have the time or energy to cook for ourselves, and resort to ordering takeout or eating at a restaurant.
This is a trick used by students and gym junkies around the world because it is easy and affordable. By setting aside a few hours a week to pre-cook meals that you will eat throughout the week, you can ensure that you are stretching your ingredients as far as they will go, as well as skipping on the packaging from takeout. Your meal preparation can be altered to accommodate your access to microwaves or fridges as you move about your week.
Processed snacks are often in plastic wrapping which feels large in comparison to the size of the snack!
Pre prepare your snacks or try eating raw items. Filling up on fresh fruit and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body and the environment. And don’t forget...skip on the disposable plastic produce bags.
Use the leftovers
When following a recipe, we don’t always need every single bit of the ingredients we buy. We end up with perfectly good scraps that go to waste.
Aside from refrigerating leftover ingredients, we can easily transform them into other kitchen staples that store for longer. For example, your leftover garlic cloves, half head of onion and greens can be tossed into a pot of boiling water to create a homemade veggie broth that you may use for your next casserole or pasta.
If you eat loads of raw fruits and veggies, you may find yourself constantly at the groceries on the hunt for them. If you are lucky enough to have a garden then having a veggie patch could be your next project. Even if you just have a balcony or indoor plants you can look at growing some herbs on your window sill. This will reduce your waste, save you money and you’ll bypass the pesticides that farmers traditionally use on their crops.