We all love food and spend a lot of our time thinking about it, shopping for it, preparing it, eating it and then thinking about our next meal. We also throw a lot of it away.
The New Year provides a great opportunity to commit to new habits. One that I will be focusing on this year is minimising my own family’s food waste. Here are a couple of tips that will help you do the same:
Plan your meals ahead, use a shopping list (and stick to it!) and avoid impulse buys.
Learn When Food Goes Bad
People often get confused by ‘use-by’ and ‘best before’ dates. Foods with a ‘use-by’ date should not be eaten after the date specified as they may become unsafe to eat (applies to things like eggs, meat and dairy). The ‘best before’ date indicates that the product may lose some of its quality after this date passes. Foods are still safe to eat after the ‘best before’ date as long as they are not damaged, deteriorated or perished.
Use Your Freezer
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you won’t get the chance to eat them within that time, put them in the freezer.
Store Your Food Correctly
Use airtight containers to store food in the fridge and pantry. On the recommendation of a friend I now store dry goods, such as flours, nuts etc. in the fridge, which extends their life considerably and prevents invasions from those pesky moths.
Request Smaller Portions
Restaurants will often provide half-portions at reduced prices. If you don’t eat all of your meal, ask for a doggy bag so you can take the leftovers home rather than have perfectly good food thrown away.
Compost Food Scraps
Some councils let you put your food scraps in the green bin. Otherwise, compost your food scraps yourself – great for the garden!
Less Is More
Buy conservatively, saving yourself money in the process. With our amazing access to so much fresh food, if you really need more you can go out and get it.
Food waste is a huge problem. The average Australian household throws out over $1,000 worth of food each year. Put another way, we throw out about 20% of the food we buy. Apart from throwing out loads of fruit and vegetables, which are at the top of the list when it comes to food waste, we throw out $872.5 million worth of fresh meat and fish every year. That’s a lot of animals suffering for nothing.
Wasting all that food is not only a waste of money, it’s also a huge drain on our precious planet. When we throw away food, we also waste all the water, energy and resources it took to produce and transport that food. Also, three quarters of all household waste (garden and food) is sent to landfill. When this organic waste decomposes, it creates methane, a dangerous gas that contributes to global warming.
By now we all agree that food waste is a problem, join me in making a difference this new year. Think about what foods you throw out on a regular basis and try to come up with a plan of action to tackle the problem. With food waste predicted to rise in the future, we can all do our bit to honour our food, and how it was produced, by making a commitment to waste less.