The confronting truth about food wastage

Have you ever stopped to think about how much of your bin is filled with wasted food? Our dietitian Rosalyn D’Angelo suggests a few easy life hacks which could help your hip pocket, and the planet.

Here are a few facts that might shock you:
  • Australians throw out up to 20 per cent of the food they purchase.
  • Up to 40 per cent of the average household bin is full of food.
  • Australians throw away $8 billion worth of food each year.
  • The average household throws away $1036 worth of food each year.
What affect does this have? Well, the obvious one is that it is practically like throwing money in the bin. 
 
But maybe even more important is the environmental impact of food wastage. When wasted food rots with other organics in landfill, it gives off a gas called methane, which is a greenhouse gas. It traps heat in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. 
 
Not only that, but when you waste food, you also waste the water, fuel and resources it took to get the food from the paddock to your plate. So this is not just an economic problem.
 
Why is this happening?

It could be a combination of things. Maybe we don’t know how to use leftovers. Maybe we cook too much and end up throwing it out. Maybe we don’t check what we already have at home before we go grocery shopping. Maybe we buy too much because we don’t meal plan and stick to a shopping list. 
Portioned meals

If you want to start making a difference today, here are my top four tips to reduce food waste:

1. Do a stock take of your cupboard. Take everything out of your fridge and cupboard. Sometimes we have 2 or 3 of the same food items. Put the things with the closest used by dates at the front. Get rid of everything that is past its used by date. 

2. Plan a weekly or fortnightly menu. Prioritise meals that will use up pantry and fridge items you already have - especially those that are approaching their used by date. If you’re stuck for ideas, search recipe websites using a specific ingredient. My personal favourites are: 

www.foodwise.com.au 
http://www.recipematcher.com
http://www.taste.com.au

For example, if you have some baby spinach, crushed tomatoes, potato, grain bread, feta cheese, and four bean mix, you could whip together any of the following with the addition of only one or two items from the shop:

  • Frittata (just add eggs)
  • Home-made baked beans (just add herbs) with crumbled feta on toast
  • Tacos made with beans & topped with spinach leaves (just add tacos and taco seasoning)
  • Homemade pizza (just add pizza base)

3. Make a shopping list. These are all the foods you need to buy to make the foods on your weekly meal plan. Staples like olive oil, whole meal flour, brown rice, whole meal pasta, sugar, tea, coffee and dried herbs are all money well spent as they add diversity to your menu, but last a long time in the cupboard. 

4. Freeze leftovers. My favourite trick is to freeze in portions that you would eat the meal. For example, if you have leftover pasta, freeze it in individual serves so that you can take it for lunch for the next few days, rather than having to defrost the whole batch for one meal. Remember, don’t reheat meals more than ONCE and NEVER refreeze thawed meals.

I challenge you all to be a zero wastage household. It takes a bit of practice, but you are doing your wallet and the planet a huge service.

It thanks you in advance.

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