5 (simple) tips to reduce food waste
Do you experience that pang of guilt as you yet again throw out that limp bunch of coriander or find yourself questioning whether those last 2 eggs are really past their use by date?
Don’t fret, you’re not alone.
In Australia, we throw out 1 in every 5 grocery bags we buy. Pretty shocking huh.
Do you find yourself doing any of the below?
- Shopping when you’re hungry?
- Not using or sticking to a shopping list?
- Opting for take-away at the last minute instead of cooking the food you have at home?
- Not checking the cupboard or fridge before going shopping?
Interestingly, these are the most common contributors to the massive $8billion of edible food we waste EVERY year.
So what does $8billion worth of edible food look like? See below:
I’m not pretending to be some sort of eco warrior here. Rather after doing some research and shaking up a few old habits in our home, I wanted to share with the simplest tips that have proven to work. My aim is to help you reduce food waste in your home too….we’re all in this together!
5 tips to reduce food waste
Let’s be honest, your mobile phone is never too far away from you. So instead of writing your weekly shopping list on that loose piece of paper, grab your phone and use one of the hundreds of helpful apps to build your list throughout the week.
This way you’ll always have your shopping list on you & never again have to worry about leaving that piece of paper on the kitchen bench. Having a shopping list keeps you on track, helping to avoid buying products you just don’t need (or are tempted by….yes chocolate I’m talking to you!).
Oh and remember to double check your fridge before stepping out of the house to make sure you don’t double up on ingredients.
Below are 3 apps I’ve found to be useful (& free):
- Trolley Saver – Automatically links your shopping list to supermarket catalogue specials to help save you $$
- Bring! – A simplified shopping list for everyone in the household
- Buy me a pie – Works across multiple devices & has a colour coded system
I suspect this question is a common dilemma in most households. Is it safe to still eat food that’s beyond the use by or best before date?
First things first, let’s get familiar with each term:
Use By – Foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons should be marked with a use by date.
Best Before – You can still eat foods for a period of time after the best before date has passed as they should be safe, but have lost some quality (as long as they’ve been stored appropriately). Additionally, if the best before date is two or more years down the track, the code does not require that the best before date to be printed on the packaging. It’s a question of quality vs safety.
Eggs seem to be the biggest culprit in our home forever posing the should we or shouldn’t we eat them scenario? So here’s what I’ve found out. Eggs can be stored for up to 6 weeks if kept in their carton in the fridge. Use the best before date as a guide, however if you’re unsure, check out the helpful tip below.
Bonus tip: A simple test for egg freshness is to gently place them in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs will stay at the bottom while older eggs float.
Regardless of whether an item is classified Use By or Best Before, correct storage is the key to retain quality and achieve optimum shelf life.
Storage of fruit & veg
Do you store your asparagus in the fridge? Or leave your avocados out on the counter too long? Bah Bow (that’s the sound of an incorrect buzzer).
Properly storing your fresh produce is another simple way to reduce food waste within the home. Check out the below video for some great advice:
Bonus tip: Re-organise fridge/pantry & place place new items at the back of the shelf, bringing older items forward to ensure these are used first.
Leftover recipes are a lifesaver when using up that half chopped carrot, zucchini or last handful of baby spinach sitting in the fridge . You’ll be thankful later too with a freezer full of ready to go meals.
With the below pantry essentials, you can pull together a handful of quick & easy leftover dinners.
- Bottles of passata and/or tinned tomatoes
- Tinned chickpeas, kidney beans
- Canned coconut milk
- Classic spices like garam masala, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, smoked paprika
- Italian dried herbs and chilli flakes
- Onions, garlic
- Curry paste (Indian)
- Portions of bacon rashers in the freezer
- Veggie or Chicken Stock
Using the above, some quick & easy left over recipe ideas are:
- Italian veggie pasta – Use the passata or tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, dried herbs, chilli flakes, leftover veggies like zucchini, kale, capsicum, mushrooms, carrots. Add in some diced smokey bacon if you want too.
- Omelette – Whisk those last few eggs together & whip up an omelette filled with veggies, cheese & perhaps some bacon?
- Indian Veggie curry – Another handy meal using a bottle of passata or tinned tomatoes, stock or coconut milk is an Indian veggie curry. Use classic dried spices or curry paste. Throw in veggies like pumpkin, potato, cauliflower, spinach, capsicum, green beans, broccoli, onion and a can of chickpeas if you have some.
- Veggie Mexican Stew – Using that incredible handy bottle or passata or tinned tomatoes again, you can create a warming mexi bowl. Use the ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, kidney beans, onion and left over veggies like capsicum, corn, baby spinach, zucchini & pumpkin.
- Herb butter – Leftover herbs chop and mix into some butter. Roll into a cylinder shape and refrigerate. Slice into discs and serve over a piece of steak or steamed green veggies.
Off Cuts & Imperfect Picks
Let’s start with off cuts.
There are parts of everyday vegetables that we can eat instead of tossing in the bin. Take broccoli stems for example. You can simply chop these and add them to your stir fry or stews. Carrot tops, celery or fennel bottoms are all ideal to throw into your homemade stocks. And with most bunches of herbs you buy from the supermarket or grocers, you can actually use the whole lot, for example all of the coriander including the roots & stalks is edible. This applies mostly to soft green herbs, not woody ones like rosemary.
Now onto Imperfect Picks.
In Australia up to 25% of produce never leaves the farmers gate simply because they’re a bit ugly and don’t meet customer and supermarket expectations. Harris Farm was the first brave grocer in Australia to launch a wide scale Imperfect Picks selection which not only saves food waste but saves us consumers a few $$ too. Ask your local grocer or supermarket if they have Imperfect Picks. If they don’t, hopefully by asking the question we can encourage more to do so.
I really hope you can use some or even just one of the above tips to reduce food waste within your home.
If you have any other tips which you’ve found to be successful please share in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you!
Source: foodwise.com.au + Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) + Australian Horticulture