Tips for reducing food waste

According to Oxfam Australia, nearly one-third of all the food produced ends up in the trash. One-third! For us living Down Under, we end up wasting about $8 billion worth of food each year.

If you think about this from a humanitarian perspective, the amount of waste being generated is disturbing, given the hunger struggles people are facing in many parts of the globe – and even here in Australia. Taken from an environmental point of view, all that unused food is incredibly bad for the environment – food production is already known to be a top cause for carbon emissions, and when that food simple goes to waste, the emissions generated are all for naught.

If you want to take steps to help the problem, consider these tips for reducing food waste in your own home.

Plan your meals

One way to avoid buying too many groceries is to plan out your meals at the beginning of each week. This way, you can buy the proper amount of each food item and use them up according to plan. In doing this, you can also make life easier for yourself – you might even want to consider making lunches on Sunday, then packing them in well-portioned reusable sandwich bags and produce bags for transportation throughout the week.

Learn to use up your leftovers

Many of us make extra portions of our dishes only to end up tossing them in the trash at the end of the week. Make it a point to use up your leftovers. Some of us are more likely to eat these dishes a day or two after they've been made (rather than the following week), as the flavours will stay more intact. If this is you, don't put off eating these foods! Take them along as a lunch or eat them for dinner.

A similar lesson can be learned when you're eating out. If you can't finish your restaurant meal, don't let your food (and your money!) go to waste – ask for a doggie bag and take the food home with you to reheat and enjoy later.

And if you're really not feeling a leftover meal, consider whether or not your food scraps could be fed to your pets. Just make sure not to feed animals anything that might be hazardous to their health (such as poultry bones for dogs).

Compost

If you've decided a particular food item simply isn't going to be eaten, composting it is a great option! A compost bin gives you a useful method for harvesting the caloric energy and plentiful nutrients present in your food in a different way. After the items have biodegraded, you can use the compost to fertilise your garden.

Seasonal stews

This is an option we particularly love. If you find at the end of the week that you have produce that's likely going to go unused, throw it into a produce bag and place it in your freezer. You can also place unused parts of veggies – beetroot leaves, asparagus stems, leftover onion, etc. – into the bag as well. After a few weeks, you'll have amassed an eclectic assortment of vegetables with unique flavours. Throw them into a pot of water and bring to a boil, and you'll have created a homemade vegetable broth!

The best part? If you shop seasonally at your local farmer's market, your broth will change throughout the year based on the goods that are in season. You can look forward to a fresh, unique broth every month or so.