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Stop food waste

Stopping food waste is not just good for the environment, it’s also great at helping us to save money. Did you know that:

  • Approximately 17% of our red-lid (general waste) bins across Redlands Coast are full of food scraps or food waste.
  • Every year, Australians waste over $3500 worth of groceries.
  • This equates to 1 in 5 shopping bags from our weekly shop that goes in the bin and ends up in landfill.
  • Approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to food loss and food waste.

Six ways to help stop food waste

So, the question remains, how do you stop food waste? There are seven key ways to help you save money and the environment when it comes to stopping food waste. These include understanding dates on your food, good meal planning and shopping, how to store food correctly, saving wilted veggies, freezing food and composting.

1. Understanding the dates on your food

So you’ve seen the dates on your tin cans, milk bottles and food packaging, but what do they actually mean?

  1. Best Before Date: This date refers more so to the quality of the food then whether or not there is an impact on food safety. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to throw it out as it’s simply a recommended date. Depending on how well you’ve stored your food it may still be perfectly fine to consume. Use your judgement on this one but try if you can to use up your food before it gets to this date.
  2. Use By Date: This is the date that a product needs to be used by and must be consumed by for food safety reasons.  Always follow the storage recommendations of the product to ensure it reaches it’s Used By Date.

2. Get meal planning and shopping

Spending just 10 minutes a week meal planning not only saves you time and sending food to landfill, but it can also save you money. Whether it’s weekly, fortnightly or monthly meal planning, here are a few steps to guide you through this:

  1. Check your fridge and cupboard: See what you already have in your fridge and cupboard so that you’re not doubling up on things you already have. Give it a quick clean out while you’re there so that you’re ready to put the food in when it arrives.
  2. Decide what you need. Writing your meal plan down on a meal planner will help you plan out your recipes or meals for the week. You can use a basic whiteboard or just print out one of the many available online.
  3. Check what ingredients you need.  Whether it’s through Recipe Cards, recipes from the ‘Stop Food Waste’ website, or from memory, writing it down will help to save buying things you don’t need or from extra trips to the shops. 
  4. When you get home, pop your meal plan up on the fridge or somewhere visible so you can stick to it for the week.

3. Food storage makes all the difference

Storing food correctly can mean the difference in your food lasting a few days to a few months. Here’s a few ideas of how to keep your food fresh for longer:

  1. Once open, keep food in air-tight containers or put a cover on any storage food containers.
  2. Fruit and vegetables can last twice as long if stored in a crisper or an air-tight container. A wet cloth or a wet cloth bag for fruit and vegetables can also help your food last twice as long.
  3. Store fruit and vegetables separately.
  4. Keep dampness from your salads by placing some paper towel in the bottom of an air-tight container.
  5. Things like avocado can be wrapped up in lettuce leaves to help stop them from going off
  6. If you like to decanter your products e.g flour, sugar, pasta, nuts into a new container etc. into a separate container, consider cutting off the label and also the Best Before date and sticking this to the outside of the container.
  7. Once you’ve opened something, especially items like salad bags and dips which can go off quickly, plan to use these within a couple of days. Keep these at the front of your fridge where you can easily see them.

Freezing food can extend the life of your food from a few days to over six months. Here’s a few ideas on what you can freeze:

  1. Bananas and other fruits are a classic item that can beautifully frozen. Even when they appear brown on the outside, bananas can be peeled, chopped into pieces and popped into a freezer bag or container. Other fruits like blue-berries, mangoes and strawberries, once frozen, are perfect for making smoothies or adding back into your baking.
  2. Left-overs: Most left-overs, apart from some salad based dinners are perfect for freezing. Casseroles, bolognaise and soups are perfect dinners that can be frozen for another date. Be sure to date it so you can use it another time

4. How to save your wilted vegetables

That limp carrot or celery stick that you thought was destined for the bin may just be able to be revived and used. The main thing they’re not getting is moisture, so give them a second chance by putting them in some ice-cold water for approximately 30 minutes. They may just be able to be saved.

5. Make a stock from your food scraps

Food scraps, whether it’s the broccoli stalk you may not like, the outer leaves of a cabbage or the base of the celery stalk, when combined together can make a wonderful vegetable stock which can be used in basic recipes such as casseroles and soups. There are so many nutrients in your vegetables and you can really make them stretch to support the foundations of another meal.

6. Composting

Around half of what we put in our red-lid bins consists of either garden waste (approximately 30%) or food scraps (approximately 17%).  When food scraps break down in landfill they can create greenhouse gases which can have a negative effect on air quality and the surrounding environment. Composting helps to solve this problem through using the nutrients from the food scraps by putting them back into the soil which can then be used in your garden.

There are three ways to compost at home:

  1. Create your own worm farm
  2. Create your own compost
  3. Set up a bokashi bin

If home composting is not for you, you can: