You probably be wondering why a dietitian, whose expertise is in nutrition, is interested in food waste. Whilst majority of Australians have access to high quality nutritious foods, the prevalence of food insecurity is estimated to be 5%(1). No amount of nutrition talk means anything if your fridge or pantry is empty.
The other side of the coin is food waste. Australians throw out $8-10 billion of food every year. As a nation we waste four million tonnes per year of food which ends up in landfill (2) What does it actually means to you and me? it means every year, each household throws out $3800 (3) worth of groceries each year. That's a new computer or the children's school expenses.
Ozharvest is a not-for-project organisation doing a great job at rescuing foods at a business level and delivering them in charities. Each of us personally can personally do our part to minimise food waste. The 'Love Food Hate Waste' website has extensive information. Here is a summary:
1. Plan your meal.
Take some time each week to plan your meals. Do a stock in the pantry/fridge before going shopping. Start by just planning for dinner. I personally follow a certain meal cycle pattern. For instance, Monday to Wednesday is usually my easy cooking nights, Thursday is my leftover nights, Friday to Sundays are my 'big' cooking nights.
2. Shop with a list
Shopping with a list helps the budget and also helps to avoid impulse buy. If you have a meal plan, you can even write down the amount of food to buy so to avoid guessing at the time of purchase.
3. Know the portion
The 'Love Food Hate Waste' website has a great tool to help estimating portions. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is also helpful in estimating portions for each member of the family, therefore the amount of food to buy.
4. Keep your food fresh for longer
There are many food 'hacks' to help keep food fresher for longer. My personal favorites are:
- trim any celery once you buy them. Immerse the ends in a glass of water to keep it fresh
-can't finish the whole bunch of spring onion? Plant the rest in your garden or a pot so you have a constant fresh supply
- freeze tomato paste or minced garlic in ice cube trays
5. Be smart with leftovers
- freeze any stew/casserole in individual portions
- freeze soups in zip lock bag for fast thawing
1. Burns, C. (2004). A review of the literature describing the link between poverty, food insecurity and obesity with specific reference to Australia. Melbourne: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.