8 tips to reduce food waste

Korina Richmond
Time to read: 4 minutes

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fresh vegetables on a blue background with the words zero waste

Food Waste is a HUGE issue. Australians throw out the equivalent of 1 in every 5 bags of groceries they buy.   That’s a lot of money going in the bin. Food waste fills up landfill, creating greenhouse gases which are bad for the environment.  Fighting food waste is EASY.  By making a few simple changes you can save money and help save the planet.  For more info see the Foodwise website.

 1. Only buy what you need

Reducing your food waste starts before you go to the shops.  Plan your meals around what you already have in the pantry, fridge and freezer.  Make a list of what you need and stick to it.

2. Store your food correctly

By storing food correctly, it will last longer, cutting down on waste.

  • Check your  fridge is below 5 degrees.
  • Check your freezer is at -18 degrees.
  • In the fridge, store meat and poultry on lower shelves and fruit and vegetables in the vegetable drawers.
  • Keep bread in a cool place in the pantry or freeze it.
  • Freeze foods before their use-by dates.
  • Use airtight containers to store food in the fridge and open packets of food in the pantry.

There are lots of websites that show you how to store different foods – see the  Oz Harvest  website.

3. Know the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’

A ‘use-by’ date is put on food that may become unsafe if stored for too long, like fresh meat and milk.  Don’t eat anything that is past its ‘use-by’ date.

Food with a ‘best-before‘ date  is still safe to eat after the recorded  date  as long as it is not damaged or  has not ‘gone off’ such as growing mould or starting to smell.   A ‘best-before’ date is a guideline and indicates that the food may lose some quality after this date.  So, don’t throw food out just because its past its best-before date.  For more information see the NSW Food Authority website.

 4. Don’t throw away tired fruit and veg

Plenty of recipes can take your bruised, wilted and wrinkled fruit and veg and transform them into something delicious.   Here are some great ways to use up things that have been sitting in the fridge or fruit bowl for a while.

Remember to clean our your vegie crisper and fruit bowl regularly!  Use the search button on our website to find recipes.

 5. Love those leftovers

Often we have leftovers from last night’s meal. Instead of throwing them out:

  • Freeze leftovers for another night’s dinner.
  • Pack  for lunch or have it again for dinner the following night– you don’t have to cook from scratch every night!
  • Use up leftover salad in a sandwich or wrap.
  • Add leftover roast chicken  to mini crustless chicken quiches, fried rice or soup.
  • Have leftover roast vegies in a couscous salad.
  • Cooked and cooled leftover rice can be frozen or makes the perfect fried rice.
  • Make breadcrumbs out of bread crusts or stale bread and freeze for later.

 6. Learn to love odd shaped fruit and veg

Buy ‘Odd Bunch’, ‘I’m Perfect’ or ‘Imperfect Picks’ to help reduce food waste.  These fruits and vegetables are delicious and nutritious but have  grown a little misshapen – like crooked carrots or curved cucumbers.  Choosing these can save you money as well as help the environment.

 7. Use your freezer

Learn more about what foods can be frozen.   You can freeze things like bread, cooked rice and pasta, grated cheese and milk.  It’s safe to freeze food right up to the use-by date. Defrost in the fridge when you want to use it.  Freeze leftovers in single serves for a quick and easy meal.   Search our website for  recipes tagged “easy to freeze”.

 8. Grow your own

Some of the most common things found in the bottom of the crisper are wilted or soggy spring onions and herbs such as parsley, coriander and basil.  This is because they are sold as  bunches but recipes only need a small amount.

You can regrow the roots of spring onions and herbs in jars of water and then plant them in the garden or in pots. Once you have an established plant, you can pick what you need to add fresh flavor to recipes.

Using these tips to reduce your food waste will save you money, time and our planet!

For more ideas, check out our saving waste tips in our recipes.

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© Cancer Council NSW 2024 Head Office Address: 153 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011. Cancer Council NSW is registered with the Australian Taxation Office as an Income Tax Exempt Charity: Charitable Fundraising Authority No. 18521.

Some images on this site have been supplied by Cancer Council Western Australia's Crunch & Sip website

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