I’m ashamed and embarrassed to admit that yes, we do waste food. Unfortunately we are not alone in this.
According to food rescue group, OzHarvest, Australians:
- throw away food worth $5.2 billion a year, with the average household wasting $616 of food a year
- waste close to 3 million tonnes of food per annum, or 136 kilos per person per annum
- discard up to 20% of the food they purchase = 1 out of every 5 bags of groceries they buy.
Those stats are just domestic use. An estimated 20 – 40% of fruit and vegetables our farmers produce are rejected even before they reach the shops. This is mainly because they don’t have “the look” that most supermarkets aspire to see on their shelves.
However there is a bit of good news.
Food waste is really in the media at the moment, thanks largely to the fabulous work being done by food rescue groups such as OzHarvest, Second Bite and Foodbank. Each of these organisations do extraordinary work to redistribute food surplus from farmers, manufacturers, supermarkets, food retailers and hospitality outlets to those people who need it via community food programs that support people in need.
My hope is that the work done by these organisations will filter down to help increase awareness of what individuals are wasting in their own homes.
TV shows such as the latest Jamie Oliver Save with Jamie (currently airing in Australia) are also helping drive this message home (pun intended 🙂 ).
On Wednesday night I participated in the monthly nutrition twitter chat #Eatkit, with the topic Getting Creative with Food Waste. There were so many great ideas!
My favourites were:
- menu plan and go shopping with a list – that way you know what you need and are less likely to buy groceries you all ready have. We are now also trying to only go grocery shopping once a week, with a meal plan and grocery list – not only is this saving us money, it’s also saving a huge amount of time!
- do a stocktake of the pantry and freezer on a regular basis – the last time I did this I discovered 17 tins of tomatoes and 36 small tins of tuna. Weirdly I also had three jars of tamarind paste. And I loathe tamarind paste.
- we went on holiday last month and we didn’t managed to quite eat everything in the fridge. For some reason I had four large-ish blocks of cheese – all different, all starting to get a bit of mould. I chopped off the mould and then grated them all, popped them into individual ziplock bags and into the freezer (appropriately labeled of course!). This took about 10 seconds per block as I used my thermomix, but you could just as easily “grate” it in a food processor. I now use this cheese on pizza, lasagne or anything else that doesn’t need pretty slices.
- label and date what is in the freezer! I can’t count how many “mystery meals” we have had when I’ve not labelled correctly. I now have a roll of masking tape and a black marker that is used regularly…
- meat with a bit of freezer burn can easily be defrosted then minced in a food processor – this is fine for any meal with mince (and not just beef – try lamb, pork, chicken etc).
- freeze excess fruit for use in smoothies or baking – this is also a great way to stock up on fruit in season such as berries and stone fruit. And blackening bananas are fabulous when popped into the freezer – great for banana bread.
- juice excess citrus fruit and freeze it in ice-cube containers – once frozen transfer to a container or ziplock bag for later use
- one of my favourites was from Emma of The Scoop on Nutrition – freeze all your veggie trimmings and use them on the weekend to make stock. You can also freeze the bones or carcass from roast chicken, lamb, beef etc for making stock later. I make a lot of stock from veggies that are becoming a bit beyond their best
- I regularly make a bottom-of-the-fridge spag bol to use up all the veggies – many other #eatkit contributors do the same but make soups, curries, casseroles and more!
- be creative with leftover food – leftover roast veggies or meat are great in a salad for lunch the next day. This lamb and roast veg salad is a great example of a “leftover” salad. Growing up mum always had soup in the fridge – it was a bit of a “master soup”, similar to master stock, in that all the leftover veggies went in. We had a small bowl of it before our main course most nights for dinner in winter. I must confess it was not always my favourite…
However the biggest change for us not throwing away food as been to get chickens! Yes, yes, I had to weave a mention of our crazy chickens in here somewhere! We throw away very little food now we have chickens – they eat most things, and what they don’t want we give to our worm farm or our compost. The only food we don’t “recycle” are meat scraps (although the chickens do get some). We also get a massive box of veggie scraps from our local fruit and veg shop every week to feed our girls, so we are also helping them reduce their waste.
Hopefully these have inspired you to reduce the waste in your kitchen. What are your top tips for reducing food waste? I know there is so much more that can be done.
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