Simple tips to reduce food related waste

8% of the greenhouse gases produced internationally come from food waste. This is why reducing waste is so important. It also means that if we stopped wasting food there would be enough food to feed everyone.

Governments and industry groups need to make it a priority, and so do we. I’d love you to add your ideas to my  tips to reduce food related waste.

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Tips to reduce food related waste

Food containers

  • Use your own reusable non-plastic water bottle. This is good for the environment and your health.
  • Use your own reusable non-plastic coffee/ tea mug.
  • Use your own containers. These can be used for unpackaged meat, poultry, seafood and deli items.
  • Try alternative food wraps such as silicon zip lock bags and muslin coated wax.
  • Store larger quantities of food in glass or stainless-steel storage containers.
  • Recycled glass jars can be used for smaller food items such as ½ onion, tomato or lemon.
  • When storing a cut avocado, retain the peel to cover the cut section of the fruit. Then store the avocado inside an airtight container.

Shopping

  • Plan your meals for the week.
  • Buy only the quantities of perishable foods that you need for the week, based on your meal plan.
  • Make a shopping list as something in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry runs out. And only buy what is on the list!
  • Look for firm fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • In season local food is fresher and will keep longer.
  • Shop at a food co-operative or local market where fresh food is fresh, mostly local and free of packaging.
  • Buy grains, flour, nuts and seeks from retail outlets such as co-operatives and whole foods stores as they sell these food items in bulk, and you can use your own recyclable containers.
  • Check use by dates on perishable foods such as meats, poultry, seafood and dairy before purchasing. Also check dates on other packaged foods.
  • Go shopping with your own reusable shopping bags. This is a sure what to reduce plastic.
  • Keep a tote or fold away bag in your car or bag for unplanned shopping.

Storing and preparing food

  • Check storage guidelines for perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Use older fruits and vegetables for cooking, and baking. Older vegetables are excellent for soups and stocks.
  • Beetroot leaves and celery tops can be used in salads.
  • Bake root vegetables with their skin on, but make sure you scrub them well before cooking.
  • Eat your pome fruits with the skin, as long as you wash them properly.

“If food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after USA and China.” Oz Harvest

Excess and left over food

  • Donate excess food to a food bank or food pantry.
  • When eating out check portion sizes before ordering. It is best to order a small quantity first, as you can order more as required. This is also a good practice for your waistline.
  • If you over order when eating out, then take the leftovers home. Some cafes and restaurants offer environmentally friendly take home containers, but many are still plastic. Due to food safety standards you cannot take your own containers.
  • Keep leftover cooked foods for the next day or freeze once the steam has stopped rising.
  • Freeze excess baked items such as cakes and bread.
  • Grate and freeze citrus rind. It can be used for cooking and baking.
  • Give any vegetable or fruit scraps to a neighbour who has chickens, ducks or a pig.
  • Don’t forget your dog or cat can eat many of your leftovers too. Check with your vet about the suitability of leftovers for your pet.
  • Plant foods can be composted. Community gardens welcome fruit and vegetable scraps for composting, or you can start your own compost system.

Please add to this list of tips in the comments below. We would love your suggestions to reduce food related waste. Each of us can make a difference every time we shop and eat.

For additional tips on selecting and preparing food, see the Eating for You book.

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