How many times have you bought food, only to throw it out a few days later because it’s gone off?
A new initiative by food rescue charity OzHarvest is encouraging people to think twice about the food they buy in order to reduce the staggering amount that is wasted every day.
Food waste costs the Australian economy more than $20 billion each year and results in over five million tonnes of edible food ending up in landfill.
Half of this food waste occurs in the home, and costs the average family about $1,050 every year. Around 13% of the big weekly grocery shop is wasted.
The top foods that are wasted are vegetables, fruit, bread, and bagged salad.
OzHarvest Founder and CEO, Ronni Kahn says, “food is so precious, wasting it makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically – but we all do it.”
She added: “From forgetting about food in the fridge, buying and cooking too much, letting it expire and not storing it properly… there are so many reasons good food ends up in the bin.”
OzHarvet’s new website fightfoodwaste.org has 4 tips — look, buy, store, and cook — that every household needs to know to prevent food waste.
Look at what you already have
What food do you already have in the fridge and pantry? What can be eaten as is? What can be used with a few additions? This is important so that you’re not doubling up on items you don’t need.
Check the use-by dates
If an item is past it’s best-before date, it only means it has passed the food supplier’s recommendation of when the product is at its “best”. It’s perfectly safe to eat shortly after this date.
If the item is past it’s use-by date, this means that it’s past the time the manufacturer gives for when the product should be consumed for food safety reasons.
OzHarvest says, “Whilst it’s not really recommended to eat food past this date, use your senses to gauge whether food is edible.”
Plan your meals
Planning meals is very important to stop food waste. It’s also a great way to stop unhealthy and unnecessary snacking. Make a list of who is home on which night during the week, work out recipes that you will cook each night, and schedule at least one night where you don’t cook, and instead eat the leftovers from a previous night.
Buy only what you need
Make a list and stick to it. Don’t become distracted by sales or specials, or any impulse buys at the checkout. A big weekly shop can result in unnecessary spending and too much food, so try to do a smaller shop every few days.
Avoid pre-packaged fruit and veg
Buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packaged bags that may contain more than you really need, and look for imperfect items that may be cheaper than normal.
Buy good containers
Storing food properly means it could last longer than its suggested shelf life. Invest in good storage containers. Keep fresh fruit and vegetables in the fridge, and move food that needs to be used first to the front.
Make sure its cold enough
Keep the temperature of your fridge at 4 degrees C, and ensure there’s enough room in the fridge for the cold air to circulate.
Freeze food down
If there’s any fresh food near it’s use-by date that you won’t be able to eat soon, freeze it to use later.
Change your mindset
Change your mindset from “What do I want to eat?” to “What do we have to use now?”
Just like some restaurants cook nose to tail, so too can you cook root to stem.
Be creative and use whatever ingredients you have. A great minestrone soup can be made from stock cubes and leftover vegetables. Bruised or brown bananas make great banana bread or smoothies. A fried rice dish is a great way to combine a bunch of leftovers.
If you are not sure what to cook, Google your ingredients and see what recipes come up.
If you’re not keen on eating leftovers more than once, think of ways that they can be transformed into something else. Cut up steak or grilled chicken into small pieces for a salad, or stir through a vegetarian pasta. Stale breadcrumbs can be popped into a processor and chopped into crumbs for schnitzel.
For more, head to fightfoodwaste.org.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.