By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
10 ways to reduce food waste
Do you remember the thrill of your first car? I certainly do. The excitement that came with my very own set of wheels that gave me the freedom to come and go as I pleased - Woo Hoo ! Nothing beats that first car. Or at least that's what I thought until I got my 8th car, a Fiat 500. What it lacks in power it makes up in cuteness and I absolutely adore it. More than my first car, more than... OK that is not true, I love my partner more.
This is not an ad for Fiat. Fiat are not paying me. I just happen to mention it so you can understand why I have no intention of taking my car off the road and take public transport instead.
When food is wasted and thrown into landfill alongside other organic materials, it breaks down to methane, a gas which traps heat in the atmosphere. If the population of NSW ( forgive me other states I don't have the stats for the whole of Australia ) reduced food waste by 66% the greenhouse gas savings would be equivalent to taking 117,000 cars permanently off the road.
My plan therefore is to keep my little Fiat on the road and implement, with great diligence, the following 10 steps to reduce food waste.
1.Buy very little packaged food
This is one of the easiest places to start. There's no need to buy ready-made meals that are packaged in foil and plastic when you can cook quick, easy, meals using fresh ingredients.
2.Avoid takeaway food
A takeaway meal ordered and delivered to your door will take the same amount of time as it would to whip together a stir fry, or home made pizza. Both will taste better and you're not left with a swag of plastic containers or huge pizza box to cram in the bin.
3.Buy fresh produce loose and not prepacked
This one is obvious. Supermarkets prepack a lot of their fresh produce to protect it during transit and storage. When you shop at your local greengrocer, butcher, fish shop and deli you can buy it loose, or minimally wrapped.
4.Buy only what you need
How often have you had to buy 2 packs of something which is really too much because 1 pack is not enough? It's a trick to force you to buy more. If you need 4 chops the butcher will give you 4 chops, and if you need 1 apple for every day of the week you can buy 7 apples from your local greengrocer. When you buy only what you need you will either waste less or you won't overeat.
5.Shop more than once a week
I know it's convenient doing one huge shop but in doing so fresh food is more likely to go off and end up in the bin. By shopping two or three times a week you are guaranteed to waste much less.
6.Plan your meals
This one is really important. Roughly work out how many nights you will be cooking at home and how many people you are cooking for. Decide what you want to make and make a list. That way you will be more inclined to buy only what you need.
7. Store food properly
Invest in some good quality snap-lock storage containers to keep the air out of food. Nothing perishes food more than oxygen. Eggs will last for weeks stored in the fridge and while older eggs may not be so good boiled or poached, you can still use them for baking. Just crack them into a small cup first to check they smell OK. Zip lock bags are good for leafy greens. Fresh herbs should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper in a zip lock bag. Cheese will stay fresh for longer wrapped in waxed paper and stored in a corrugated base cheese container. Fruit can be stored in the fridge but should be eaten at room temperature.
8. Use your freezer and label and date what's going in it
Until I started labelling stuff that went into my freezer, things would disappear only to be found years later just before they were sent to land fill. If you do have leftovers or buy too much, freeze what you can, label and date it and try to use it within the month.
9. Compost your fresh produce waste &/or keep a worm farm
When you eat a lot of fruit and veg, as we do in our house, there's lots of stuff that gets thrown automatically into the worm farm. The outer leaves of lettuce, tops and tails off beans, apple cores, kiwi skin, you name it, the worms get it. They don't get citrus, onion or garlic peel. The worms eat the organic waste, and we use the water and castings to help grow other plants. It's thoroughly satisfying.
10. Get a dog!
My dog Maisy would do more for the cause given half a chance but she will eat up everything she is given. If the beans and celery are too bendy for human consumption, but not so bendy for the worms, Maisy gets them mixed up with leftover rice and combined with lean protein. In her mind it's a home-cooked dinner, in ours, it's one less thing going into land fill.
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