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Meal planning made easy

Published: 20 April 2020

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By planning your meals and avoiding food waste, you’re saving money and the planet.

Kiwi families might be finding themselves with odd ingredients or trying to stretch the time between trips to the grocery store during COVID-19.

Auckland Council has teamed up with Love Food Hate Waste to provide these practical steps to help save money and reduce food waste.

Have a plan for your grocery run

Before you head to the grocery, have a look in your pantry and make a note of what you’ve already got. Then, have a think about what meals you want to cook and what ingredients you actually need. By planning your meals in advance, your grocery list is easier to use, and you are more likely to eat everything you buy.

Here are some simple tips for meal planning to get you started.

The Easy Choice cookbook is full of recipes that will please the whole family on any budget, and the latest Autumn edition uses a great mix of long-life ingredients – perfect for all those tins and dried foods in the cupboard.

You can also search online for Love Food Hate Waste recipes based on ingredients you’ve already got to use up. For example, if you cooked too much rice, you can easily make fried ricejambalaya, rice-crusted quiche, crispy fried rice cakes, or rice pudding.  

Organise your grocery list by area of the store; this will make your shopping faster and easier.

Consider what to buy if the supermarket is out of an item. For example, instead of flour or bread, think about pizza bases, tortillas, or wraps. They last for ages and work great for leftovers that might not make a meal on their own.

Buy food that’s in-season

Good value vegetables in the supermarkets in April and May are broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, potatoes and onions. Pears and apples are in season, and kiwifruit may start to get cheaper soon. Fruits and vegetables that are in-season last longer. To get more life out of greens, remove them from the plastic bag and put them in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze spinach or kale if you bought too much.  

Keep your potatoes and onions out of the plastic bags and away from each other to help them last longer. Avoid storing them in a damp place like under the sink – they last best in a cool, dark and dry place, like the bottom of the pantry. Bananas should also be kept away from other fruits because they give off ethylene gas which ripens the fruit around them.

Freezers act as a pause button preserving food until you need it.

You can freeze a lot more than just bread and meat. Sauces, hard cheeses, vegetables, and eggs can all be frozen. Hummus and dips freeze well, too. And if you’re avoiding going to the supermarket too often, it’s a great time to make a large batch of chilli, stew or lasagne and chuck your leftovers in the freezer for an easy meal another night.

Small change, big impact

Kiwi families waste an estimated $1 billion each year on food they buy and then throw away. That’s $644 per family per year, or three trolleys full of food.

Aucklanders put close to 100,000 tonnes of food waste into their rubbish bins each year, which gives off methane when it breaks down in landfill. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

By planning your meals and avoiding food waste, you are saving money, the planet, trips to the supermarket and time out of your bubble.

Read more: At Home


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