If food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses.
In Australia, we waste about 20 per cent of the food we buy. Around half of all fruit and veggies we buy gets tossed. Around four million tonnes of food ends up in landfill.
That’s a recipe for disaster for sure.
If climate change isn’t enough incentive to avoid this waste, consider this; the estimated cost of food waste in Australia is $20 million.
The cost of food waste for EACH New South Wales household is estimated at $3,800 per year. It’s like throwing away one in every five bags of shopping you buy.
Want to save money and help save the world? It’s easy, don’t waste food.
Here are some tips and a few recipes to help you save food, money and the environment.
It’s hard to believe the world produces enough food for everyone on the planet, yet one in nine people do not have enough to eat.
In 2016, 80,000 people in NSW were assisted by food charities. Nearly 10,000 were turned away. Because there wasn’t enough food.
Yet 35 per cent of the rubbish in an average Australian household’s bin is food waste.
In honour of World Food Day, celebrated on October 16, I’m sharing some food saving tips.
HOW TO AVOID FOOD WASTE
One of the best ways to avoid food waste is to plan your meals. Make a list of meals for a week or fortnight. The beauty of this is you can plan meals that share the same ingredients. For instance, if you are planning to make pumpkin soup, add leftover pumpkin as a side serve to another meal or use it as a pizza topping or in pasta.
Make a list, and stick to it. This ends up saving you a lot of money as you can avoid unnecessary trips to the shop and the time and transportation costs to get there.
Store unused food correctly. Things like potatoes, onions and garlic are best stored in cool, dry places.
Herbs last longer when they are placed in a glass of water in the fridge. Some, such as basil, can be placed in a glass jar on the windowsill and they will grow roots and can then be planted to grow your own supply.
Most vegetables will last longer if they are placed, unwrapped, in your fridge crisper, though some, like broccoli, are best left in their original wrapping. Mushrooms should be in paper bags in the fridge.
Some fruits encourage others to ripen faster. It’s a good idea to keep bananas separate from other fruits.
Biscuits and cookies should be stored in airtight containers.
Leftovers can be stored in the freezer and used for another meal when you are strapped for time. Make sure to label them and include the date. Be aware of portion sizes when freezing. NOTE: Once thawed, leftovers should not be refrozen.
Things like bread and hard cheeses can be frozen to ensure they do not spoil before you can use them up.
Freeze browning bananas and use them later in muffins, cakes, bread, smoothies, and ice cream.
STAPLE SAVIOURS AND TRANSFORMERS
Keep a few staples on hand, such as pasta, rice and puff pastry. You can make wonderful pies and pasta dishes using leftovers, creating another meal.
Leftovers also work wonderfully in soups, stocks and stews. They are also great as pizza toppers, in fried rice, curries, Shepherd’s pie and even frittatas and quiches.
Transform spoiling food before it has the chance to rot.
Stew old apples to use in crumbles, pies and sauces.
Use other fruits to make lovely fruit tarts or smoothies.
Leftover crackers, even those starting to go stale, make a wonderful base for these pizza fingers.
Food rationing, after WWII, inspired the British to come up with bubble and squeak, a fun way to use leftover roast dinner meat and veggies. Potatoes – either mashed or roasted and then crushed with a fork, are the crucial ingredient. They help to keep the little fritters together. Simply cut your leftovers into small pieces, add to the potato, form into fritters and fry. Check out the recipe here.
Be mindful of portions when serving meals. This helps your pocket and your waistline. It’s easier to store leftover food for later when it hasn’t been sitting on someone’s plate, under their breath and perhaps touched by their fork.
This is especially important when serving children’s meals. You can always offer them more when they’ve eaten what they have.
However, if you have miscalculated and given them too much, store their leftovers separately, label the serving and then you can offer it again when they are hungry.
I remember my mother trying to entice my sister to finish her meal. She told my sister about all the starving kids in Africa. In a classic ‘let them eat cake’ moment, my sister replied, “Well, send them my leftovers”. She was quite young. 🙂
The days of forcing children to eat everything on their plates are over (or, at least they should be as they have been linked with eating disorders).
However, we need to set some boundaries in order to teach them not to be wasteful.
Even when eating out, it’s a good idea to be mindful of portion sizes. Hubby and I often share a meal, as they all seem to come so supersized these days. If we want different things, we opt for two entrée sizes.
Of course, there will always be portions of food we don’t use but not all of it needs to end up in landfill.
All fruits and veggies, as well as eggshells, tea leaves and a host of other things, can be made into plant food by adding them to a compost heap. Here are some great tips for creating compost.
If you live in an apartment, why not invest in a compact compost? They can fit on your kitchen counter and usually come with ingredients to help food scraps break down faster and create a liquid that works like magic on your indoor and balcony plants.
BE A MARVELOUS MONITOR
Take the time to monitor how much food you waste during the space of a week. Write down everything that goes into the bins. It could be a real eye-opener that will inspire you to take steps which can save you money and save the world.
Happy saving and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.
Joyce HansenOctober 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm
I’m a big saver on freezing bananas. Works great for banana bread and smoothies. o, There’s even waste even before it gets to the stores. We also have a Food on Wheels program here in southern Arizona. We are close to the Mexican border and the produce comes up into warehouses to be distributed across the country. They always have too much stock so it gets distributed at different outlets at $10 for 60 pounds of fruits and vegetables. If they didn’t do it, the excess would go to the dump. We all need to become more conscientious about the potential for wasting food.
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:10 am
The food waste before it even gets to us is shocking, isn’t it? I remember watching a show about the produce rejected by supermarkets because of minor imperfections and it often gets tossed. Much better to sell it off cheaply, or even give it away.
Reba LinkerOctober 25, 2017 at 11:28 am
As the author of a children’s book called “The Compost Heroes: A (Mostly) True Fable for Modern Times” I heartily approve this message. Great tips on avoiding compost in the first place!
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:11 am
Your book sounds really interesting, Reba. Will have to check it out.
Cathy SykoraOctober 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Very important topic! It makes me sad to see how much food is served. I think the restaurants would be a good place to start. They enacted some laws in France a year or so ago for restaurants. Juicing saves us from waste, then, we throw the pulp in the garden. I read an article about a family who had 2% waste. It seemed like it would be exhausting to do all the things they do to keep it down, but I guess you’d get used to it.
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:15 am
Wow, two per cent waste! That is something amazing to aim for Cathy, but I think you are right, it would be so time-consuming. I love the idea of laws to stop food waste in restaurants. They could start by reducing portion sizes. Those giant plates overflowing with food are no good for the environment – or our health.
CandessOctober 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm
These are really helpful ideas. I also like to make crock pot soups and freeze them. They are easy to re-heat and are full of nutritious veggies.
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:20 am
Soups and sauces are such a fabulous way to use up extra food, Candess. We had some tomatoes that were starting to get soft so I used them to make a pasta sauce yesterday. Pasta isn’t part of our meal plan this week (I actually practice what I preach 🙂 ), so I froze the sauce to use another time.
Lorii AbelaOctober 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm
I agree that it is important to plan. You never know what you have and what you do not have if you do not make an evaluation. Sometimes we can impulse buy . The tendency is to just waste money an at the same time the food as they are not eaten. This can be because they expired, got sick of the same thing all the im
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:22 am
So true, Lorii, we can be tempted to impulse buy. I used to do this a lot in my younger years, especially with fruit and vegetables that were displayed beautifully. My eyes were always bigger than my belly, so lots got wasted. I’m much better about that now.
JENNIFER QUISENBERRYOctober 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm
This is so timely! I’ve been learning to meal plan lately, and it’s really cutting back on food waste. And the extra benefits are 1) saving money, and 2) saving time. I was really amazed how I could make such a simple change that could have such a wonderful benefit.
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:26 am
It’s amazing how much money you can save by planning meals, isn’t it Jennifer? This tactic was a bit of a lifesaver for us when the boys were all still living at home. As the nest started to empty, I stopped planning for some reason and soon realised we were spending way more than we should be on groceries. Now I’m back to my lists and saving time, money and food.
Teresa SalhiOctober 26, 2017 at 12:37 am
Such a wonderful and hugely valuable topic. I do my best to NOT waste food, I deplore it and so does my husband. I didn’t used to be that way. I didn’t realize the vast quantities of good food that go to waste. So unacceptable when there are hungry people in the world. Ugh. My hubby comes from Algeria and when he got to US he quickly saw the waste here is US and how I had a few bad habits myself. He will not waste one tiny thing if at all possible and absolutely every edible part of a veggie or fruit finds it way into a dish, smoothie, soup or something! I love this about him. I also love that together we are not only not wasting food but we don’t buy packaged food which is waste in our environments and often very unhealthy in our bodies.
tamuriaOctober 26, 2017 at 6:32 am
I think so many of us have been food wasters, Teresa. Especially those who never had to worry about where the next meal was coming from. Thankfully, we are all becoming more aware of the environmental impact of waste, as well as an extra urge to save money. Like you and your husband, I deplore food waste now (that I’m wiser). It drives me nuts when the Goddesses waste food and I’m trying to teach them not to – without becoming a grumpy Grandy. 🙂