How to reduce food waste in your home
Food waste is a huge problem across the world, including here in Australia. According to Aussie food charity OzHarvest, over 5 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill each year - that’s estimated to be one in five shopping bags, or $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year. Not only is it a big waste of resources to produce, package and transport this amount of food, when fresh food ends up in landfill it decomposes and creates toxic methane gas. Did you know that methane is a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide?!
By implementing these easy tips in your home, you can start reducing food waste to save money, resources and the environment.
Plan your meals
This is probably the most important step in reducing food waste in the home. Planning your meals for the week helps you get an idea of exactly how much food you need, so you can minimise the amount that gets wasted.
Each week before you shop, write a list of the meals you plan to make for the week (include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) and take stock of the items you already have in the fridge and pantry that can be used to create those meals. While taking stock you can also notice other items that need to be used up before they go bad, and incorporate those into your meal plan. Then, make a list of everything you need for the week and take it with you when you shop. And most importantly - try and stick to your plan! To do this you may wish to cook meals in advance or in bulk to save time during the week and curb the temptation to grab a takeaway.
Freshest is best
There’s nothing more annoying (and wasteful) than buying supermarket produce that goes bad in just a couple of days. One of the best ways to access the freshest fruit and veg is at your local farmers market. Because the food is grown locally, this means it has spent less time (and energy) being transported, and will usually last a lot longer in your fridge. If you’re going to use it right away, by all means, buy items that are less fresh to stop them from going to waste. But if stocking up once a week is more your style, buying freshest is best.
Store your fresh produce correctly
Don’t weep about wilted greens or rubbery carrots in the crisper drawer - store them correctly and they’ll stay fresh all week long! Choose airtight containers, or to save space in the fridge, opt for flexible silicone food pouches like these from Seed & Sprout. Wrapping vegetables in paper towel to absorb excess moisture is another way to keep them fresher for longer in the fridge.
For fruit, vegetables, bread and cheese that has been sliced, protect them from going bad by wrapping them to create an airtight barrier. No wasteful plastic wrap is necessary! Beeswax wraps or reusable silicone food wraps are a great alternative to plastic cling wrap, or for more ideas, check out our article on the best eco-friendly cling wrap alternatives.
Learn how to compost at home
Around half of our household waste comes from food, and composting is a great way to break down the nutrients left in that food to use on your garden. Home composting is not nearly as daunting as it seems, and there are plenty of ways to do it - whether you use an open pile, bin, tumbler, compact Bokashi system or even the composting facilities available at your local council or community garden. Keep a composting bucket under your kitchen sink to collect your fruit and veg scraps and eggshells and get the whole family involved in the composting process to make it fun.
Store your leftovers for optimal freshness - and don’t forget to eat them!
Couldn’t finish your meal or made too much? Store your leftovers in an airtight container or use reusable food covers to store them directly in the bowl in the fridge. Transfer whatever you don’t eat within the next three days into the freezer in a sealed container or pouch to prevent freezer burn, and defrost when you’re ready to use it. But the most important thing about saving your leftovers is to remember to actually eat them! Store them at the front of the fridge or on a designated shelf so they don’t get forgotten.
Freeze your veggie scraps to make a delicious stock
Don’t throw away those onion peels, broccoli stalks or other veggie scraps! Did you know they can be boiled together to make a delicious stock that you can then use in your soups and other recipes?
Keep a reusable container or bag (we love these giant 4-litre silicone food pouches) in the freezer and add your veggie and herb scraps and offcuts whenever you cook. When it’s full, add them to a large stockpot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for an hour and add salt to taste. Strain the stock using a sieve and freeze in ice cube trays or glass jars to use to add extra flavour to your recipes for weeks to come.