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3 ways to reduce food waste and save money

Published: 22 August 2018
Photo courtesy of Love Food Hate Waste.

You spend a lot of time searching for sales at the grocery store. But how much time do you spend considering how much of what you bought goes into the bin? It may be more than you think.

According to Love Food Hate Waste, an average family in New Zealand will throw nearly three shopping trolleys of edible food in the bin every year. That adds up to be an average of $563!

Jenny Marshall, sector group coordinator for WasteMINZ, says, “even the small amounts of food which we throw out uneaten can add up to a huge amount. New Zealanders throw away 7039 tonnes of potato peels every year. So even simple actions such as peeling vegetables creates a huge amount of waste. Equally, if we all made a few simple changes such as mashing or roasting potatoes with their skins on we could easily reduce the amount of food going to landfill and collectively we can make a big difference.”

Some food items that are commonly thrown out
Some examples of avoidable food waste. Photo courtesy of Love Food Hate Waste.

There are some easy changes you can make that will help reduce how much food you throw away.

Understanding “use by” and “best before”

A “best before” date is an indication of quality. It tells you up until when food will be in its best condition. That means it’s still safe to consume food after this date. For food items with a “best before” date, you can usually use your senses to tell whether it’s gone off or not.

“Use by” dates are important. “Use by” dates are for foods that might go off without you being able to see or smell it. It’s best to not consume food once it hits this date, as you won’t be able to use your senses to tell if it’s gone off.

Buy what you need

We don’t have to tell you, the first step to reducing food waste is to not buy so much in the first place! Here are some strategies to consider for the next time you go grocery shopping.

  • Don’t go hungry! The best time to go grocery shopping is after you’ve just finished eating. You can also try throwing some snacks in your bag, in case you get caught out doing a grocery store run after work.
  • Have a think about how much food you really use. Don’t get lured in by those 3-for-1 specials if you won’t be able to use everything.
  • Take a shopping list with you. This helps you stay focused. When writing up your list, think about what meals you’d like to make for that week. What ingredients can you repurpose for a couple or even several different meals?
  • Properly store your food. Planning and shopping are hard enough, so usually by the time we get home, we want to just throw everything in the fridge. But it pays off to take time to sort your fruits and veggies into the crisper drawers, or to freeze the meat that you aren’t going to use right away.

Unavoidable food waste

Despite our best efforts, there will always be some part of our food that we just won’t be able to use. But wait! Just because it’s not edible, doesn’t mean it has to go in the rubbish bin. Ask yourself these questions next time you are thinking about throwing some food in the bin:

  • Can I give it to someone else?
  • Can I feed it to my animals?
  • Can I compost it?

If you live in Papakura, Auckland Council already has kerbside collection for your food scraps. The service will be rolled out across all urban Auckland by 2021.

How can you learn more?

Check out this recent video by Re:, who talked to Love Food Hate Waste about food waste:

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Waste Community