With more than one third of all food produced globally going to waste, the issue of food waste has become a worldwide epidemic. In Australia, up to 1.3 billion tonnes of perfectly edible food is wasted each year. There’s so much to do on a logistical level, like developing better food harvesting practices, transport and retailing processes. But there are also a number of simple actions we can all undertake to help fight food wastage at home.
If you’re passionate about minimising your impact, we bring you some of our favourite tips, recipes and apps to get you started.
1) Plan ahead
We’ve all been in the supermarket with a grocery list of essentials, only to find that when you get home you have a lot more than you anticipated. What started as a 10-ingredient shop has turned into multiple impulse purchases, and the next thing you know you’ve got a mound of unopened, uneaten food in your kitchen a week later.
By planning your meals for the week ahead and only shopping according to recipes, you’re likely to vastly reduce the number of sad snacks or soggy salad ingredients at the end of the week. Try using this helpful portion planner that takes away the guesswork of how much food you need to buy, so you can shop according to your needs. It’s an added bonus that you’ll also save money on groceries too. Genius.
2) Shop at bulk foods shops
The premise is simple at bulk food shops; reduce food packaging, reduce food waste and only shop according to how much you need. You can now choose the quantity of chia, cacao or coconut flour you desire, scoop it up and take it home. Not only is this a more exciting choose-you-own adventure kind of shop, but you’ll also be making a huge difference to your overall weekly waste.
There’s a slew of whole food stores we love, from Alfalfa House in Newtown (the not-for-profit food co-op) to the ever-popular franchise The Source Bulk Foods. If you’re in Melbourne – The Staple Store is a bulk foods mecca.
3) Get into preservation
Fermentation, dehydrating and pickling are all excellent ways of long-term preservation that will help you reduce the amount of food you throw out. Overripe fruit or slightly old veggies can be perfect in jams or chutneys, and will lower your food waste in the tastiest possible way.
For recipe inspo, check out Food In Jars or Well Preserved, two of our favourite preserving blogs! Otherwise search for ideas using the #preserves hashtag on Instagram or #fermentedfoods – you’ll find lot’s of DIY projects you’ll be dying to try.
4) Take a shelfie
It’s exactly what it sounds like – a selfie of your shelves. It’s basically taking a photo of your food storage or pantry so you know what you have and what you don’t. That way, when you’re at the supermarket you can quickly refer to the image and know that you don’t need another box of cereal – you already have five.
On Instagram, pantry porn and beautifully organised food pictures reign supreme, but never fear if your pantry isn’t totally 'gramworthy – this shelfie is for your eyes only. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to take a look through your Insta feed for inspo though..
5) Use your leftovers
Become a leftovers queen and transform last night's dinner into an entirely new meal. You may have to get creative with your culinary skills, but it’ll be a lifesaver on busy weeknights – you’ll save time, money and food.
Make sure you make leftover meals as soon as possible or freeze them immediately. This will ensure your food tastes fresher and you’ll remember to use them up instead of forgetting about them at the back of your fridge!
6) Donate to food banks or farms.
Before you throw away excess foods, look into food banks or charities that you can bring items to. That way, you’ll be giving away items you know you’re not going to consume, and instead giving them to people in need. Food Bank will accept donations of all kinds, and OzHarvest will also pick up any food within 2-3 hours of you enquiring.
If this isn’t realistic for you, you can always try your hand at composting. Keep a small bin in your kitchen for food scraps and then throw them on your garden as a nutrient-dense fertilizer!
Speaking of leftovers – get the cheffy in the kitchen with these delicious waste-free creations...
Sarah Wilson's Banana Peel Cake
Instead of throwing out those banana peels, throw them into this deliciously spicy cake instead. The funny thing about this sweet treat, is that it doesn't actually contain any actual bananas. Yep, a banana cake without any of the actual fruit! Find it in her new Simplicious Flow cookbook.
Making your own nut milk at home not only reduces food packaging but reduces food waste too (no one likes off milk). This recipe is quick and easy to follow – and even has tips on what to do with the leftover almond pulp (hint: it involves turning it into almond meal and baking cookies with it.) We're sold!
We’re all for making our lives a little easier – especially when it’s for a good cause. These apps are changing the game when it comes to doing your bit to fight food waste.
Food retailers often have a surplus of food at the end of the day, which they usually would have to throw away. When you sign up to YWaste you could save up to 80% on food from your favourite cafés by buying meals at discounted prices. It’s a win-win all round.
This innovative app connects you with your neighbours and local shops so that any excess food can be shared, not wasted – and it’s entirely free! Just browse what’s available near you, request anything and then message to arrange a pick-up. Easy.
This handy app lets you track, organise and manage the food in your home. You’ll create lists of things in your freezer, fridge and pantry so you can easily remember what you’ve got, and what you need. Our favourite feature is the barcode scanner, making the process a total breeze!
This recipe app will revolutionise your leftovers game. All you’ve got to do is input what leftover ingredients you have, and the app will find the perfect recipes using those exact items. You can also submit your own leftover recipe for inclusion if you think you’re onto something gold. Did someone say bestovers? (we did!)
Now that you are all learned up on food waste, why not look for more foodie inspiration? Check out our Entertaining section for all the best recipes.