Be food smart

There are easy steps you can take to keep avoidable food waste out of landfill.

An adult and two children standing in front of a stovetop. The adult is pouring food from a container into a pot.

You can reduce your food waste through:

Planning

People often purchase and cook more food than they eat.

Planning is key to reducing the amount of food you throw out. This helps you cut down on the quantity of food that ends up uneaten in your bin and saves you money on food you buy. 

There are three easy steps to make sure you are planning effectively.

  1. Check what ingredients you have at home that need to be used up.
  2. Based on what you already have, set out between 3 and 7 meals for the week, plus supplies for morning teas and lunch boxes. Use a menu planner or meal planning app to help.
  3. Write down all ingredients needed and then cross-check against your shopping list.

Shopping

Follow these smart shopping tips when you get ready to go to the shops:

  • When making your meal plan and shopping list, always check what’s already in your fridge or pantry.
  • Prepare your list based on your meal plan.
  • Group items on your shopping list.
  • Check use by and best before dates when you shop.
  • Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry.
  • Where possible, buy less but more frequently.
  • Use a shopping list app so that two people don’t end up buying the same things.

Prepping

Instead of scraping leftovers into the bin, why not use them for tomorrow’s ingredients? Here are some ideas:

  • Tuna can be added to pasta and made into pasta bake.
  • Vegetables that are starting to wilt can be made into soup.
  • Fruit that’s just going soft can be made into smoothies or fruit pies.
  • Leftover bolognese sauce is good for pasta bake or pie filling.
  • Turn leftover vegetables into a frittata or add to fried rice.
  • Make your own stock by using leftover vegetables and chicken. 
  • Bread is one of the top ten most wasted foods. Make croutons from stale bread to keep it from going to waste.

Freezing food

Extend the shelf-life of most fresh or cooked foods by freezing them. 

Another easy tip is to cook food in batches and store them in an airtight container so that you have meals ready for those evenings when you’re too tired to cook.


Cooking

FoodWise and Love Food Hate Waste UK have put together recipe databases that use ingredients you already have in the house to make delicious meals. 

It also suggests options for transforming your leftovers into a delicious second meal.

FoodWise have also created a guide to commonly wasted foods to help you can get more from the things we waste most.

Some top tips to consider include:

  • Check packaging instructions for portion size guidelines.
  • If you have extra portions left over, save them in the fridge or freezer for later. 
  • One palm-size of raw meat is about 85 grams also known as one serve.
  • A general rule for rice is that half a cup of raw rice is enough for two people.
  • The hole in the pasta spoon fits about one serving of dried spaghetti.
  • Allow people to serve their own portions to suit their appetite.
  • Send a message out to your household before cooking to find out who will be home for dinner!

Storing

How we store our food can make a big difference to how long it will last.

Here are some tips to think about how to best store food:

  • Rotate the items in your fridge regularly and move things that are reaching their use-by date to the front.
  • Have a “use it up” shelf in your fridge, so that everyone knows to use those items first.
  • Keep fresh herbs in a glass of water to keep their roots hydrated and leaves fresh.
  • Use airtight containers for storing items in the fridge, freezer or cupboard.
  • Keep veggies in the crisper section of your fridge or in airtight containers or bags.
  • Store leftovers in the freezer if they won’t be eaten within 2-3 days.
  • Use a paper towel in containers of leafy greens to absorb excess moisture and help keep them fresher or longer.
  • Restore wilted celery and green vegetables like lettuce by soaking in iced water for a few minutes.

There are also tips for keeping items fresh in the fridge:

  • Always store raw food below ready to eat food.
  • Store raw meats, fish and poultry on the bottom shelf where it’s coldest.
  • Don’t overcrowd food in your fridge. To cool food properly the air must be able to circulate around the food.
  • Cool cooked food until steam stops rising. Then place the food directly into an air-tight container and refrigerate.