Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Food wastage - Are you throwing money in the bin?

Image from here
Did you know that we waste about one third of all food produced for human consumption?

In developing nations this occurs for a combination of poor harvesting techniques, limited cooling, inefficient cooling etc. All things before the consumer level.

In wealthier countries, like Australia it is more likely because of a combination of over-rigorous food quality (which rejects otherwise good food for being imperfect in shape or size) standards and consumers who buy more than they need.

The biggest contributors to consumer wastage are:

1. Poor food planning

2. Poor food preparation

3. Not using a shopping list when getting groceries

4. Not using your own shopping bags

It doesn't matter how guilty you feel about wasting food nor how 'green' you report to be. If you don't purchase only what will be eaten and plan your meals, you will inevitably waste food. You need to be a conscious consumer.

We have really been focusing on reducing our food wastage at Casa Four. Some of the tips and tricks we have been exploring follow:

1. Get creative with leftovers. Got some stale bread? Make breadcrumbs or pudding. Got leftover veggies? Use them to create a stew or soup the next night.

2. Start your shopping list by looking in your fridge or pantry. Create meals from the food you already have by just getting the missing stuff at the shops.

3. Take your own shopping bags to do your shopping. It is no coincidence that shops willingly give away plastic bags. It is so you will make impulse purchases.

4. Store your food safely. Reusable containers that are airtight are ideal (made from reusable materials like glass, even better)

Don't think you are wasting much food? Try this "Penalty Tin" suggestion I found at www.simplesavings.com.au. Grab a tin from the recycling bin and label it "The Penalty Tin". From then on, whenever you throw out an item of food, put its monetary value into the tin. For example, throwing out a litre of milk results in $1.00 being put in the tin. Do this for a week. You may be surprised at how much money you are literally throwing in the bin! And if that isn't incentive to change your habits, I don't know what is.

Do you have any other food wastage reduction suggestions to share?


Nurture the Little People said...

We have been a bit guilty about wasting food. Having just moved house, I decided to donate a HEAP of canned and packaged goods that have been sitting around in my cupboard for some time to our local Soup Kitchen.

We have a worm farm that we feed scraps to and fruit and veg that goes bad. We freeze left overs and have an easy dinner night that is left over night.

I am trying really hard since moving house to plan meals for the week and only purchase what we will need. It means the fridge looks a little bare, but it also means less wastage and more freshness.

Great post.


Amanda said...

Great reminders. I try to follow all these strategies usually because I really hate throwing food away, although it has taken some adjusting with baby/toddler meals (sometimes same as ours, sometimes not) since the small boy arrived. But recently I've been more organised and have been using leftovers better (often throwing them in pastry - OK not the healthiest option but it works!) and have been more consistent about planning meals. Good to have this reminder though that it's such an important thing to do.

Kirsty said...

I like that Simple Savings tip too. I think shop less should be on your list - do a big shop then try to hold out for as long as possible. This really forces you to use what you have - it's amazing how long you can keep going. Kind of like tip 2 except avoiding the shops altogether - I'm such a sucker for all those specials. Grow your own also encourages you to reduce wastage - it means you really appreciate how hard it can be to grow the food you eat, and also keeps your food fresh for longer.

Mum on the Run said...

The 'penalty tin' is a class idea.
Scary but effective.

Mama of 2 boys said...

I do love your posts with tips on being environmentally conscious. I definitely think I waste too much food. Mainly the fresh stuff, like fruit and veg. I am quite well planned on overall meals and always use leftovers etc... But I think sometimes I fall into the 'buying too much' category... which probably comes back to lack of planning with the meals I actually cook. And I do feel incredibly guilty when I throw out food that has been left to rot. It's just careless and a little lazy to let that happen.

Rhonda said...

We have employed many of these ideas. Another thing I used to do is make too much for dinner, then we'd have leftovers and inevitably I'd have to toss them when no one ate them. Now I make much less, which is helpful in food waste and not overeating.

Jaimee Hunter said...

We've been horrible about being wasteful this summer. Hubby dearest was always trying to make sure there was food for Darling Daughter while she was home for summer vacation, and she was trying out sleeping too late to get up and eat anything but Ramen noodles (GAG!!!). We set up a menu this week and only bought what we needed. It seems to be working. Great post!

Tricia said...

I like to reduce food waste by 'eating the innedible'. eg. roast pumpkin seeds as a snack and parsley stalks as a celery substitute. I also save up certain vege scraps in a plastic bag in the freezer and then make a big vege stock.

Hope you enjoy your holiday. I kept an eye out for you on Sunday. We'll catch up one day ;-) x t.

Anonymous said...

Our biggest food waste comes in the form of leftovers. I'm now trying to plan our weekly menus so one meal leads into another:
ie/ roast chicken & vegies
the next day we will make frittata using leftover roast vegies and for lunch we will use the chicken in sandwiches or a soap.
It also makes planning easier because there is a natural progression from one meal to the next. A no brainer, really. Just takes discipline and consistency on my behalf ... hmmm.

Anonymous said...

I meant soup, not soap. ;)

Quill and Ink Handmade said...

I'm getting better at reducing food wastage - we used to be absolutely terrible pre-babies!
I plan all the meals for the week, and make enough so that they last for two dinners. I do lots of baking during the week with any left over veg (warm vege muffins are delish), but I'm constantly at the shops for fruit - we run out within a few days.
At the end of the week, our fridge is almost bare; but at least they're isn't much wastage!

Great post MM - I must buy green bags and follow your lead :)


Photographer Mum said...

We have stopped buying meat in bulk because we ended up throwing a lot of it out. We now buy as we need which is working but it is really annoying to have to go to the shops all the time just to get it.

~CSaM~ said...

I don't meal plan :-/ It's been on my to do list for the past 2 years.

I've just never gotten around to it.

Must pull my finger out I think!!

Kelly said...

Fantastic tips - only thinking about it now and we waste too much food in the house. Its that organising thing - I'm not good at :)

Seana Smith said...

I can't bar throwing food out and very rarely do it. I eat it! Also now feeding leftovers etc to starving teenager- very handy.

Before we go on holiday we tend to 'eat the cupboards' ie we stop shopping and just use up what s in the cupboards, fridge, freezer etc etc Very good habit, but it makes for some off combinations!

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