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Meal planning made easy

Published: 17 August 2020

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

Stretch the time between trips to the grocery store and save yourself money using these practical tips from Auckland Council and Love Food Hate Waste.

Plan your grocery run

Plan your meals in advance. Look in the pantry and take note of what you already have. Ask your family what meals they might want and build your shopping list around that cooking instead of working that out when you’re already in the store.

To get you started, here are some simple tips for meal planning.

If you are in need of some inspiration, the free Easy Choice cookbook is full of recipes that will please the whole family on any budget, whatever the season.

You can feed a family of 6 for about $60 a week, using these recipes.

For convenience the ingredients are listed by area of the store making it easier to get around the supermarket.

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.

Make it last

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. Bananas should also be kept away from other fruits because they give off ethylene gas which ripens the fruit around them.

New life for leftovers


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

Take advantage of your freezer

If you are shopping on a budget, consider buying frozen vegetables. Using them can reduce waste, save money and time and are just as healthy. Having a bag of frozen peas and carrots in the freezer is handy to add into a fried rice too. You can also freeze your own vegetables if you have too many.

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.

Make a large batch of soup, 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.

Using these ideas will not only save you money but, will help you reduce the number of times you need to go to the supermarket. It also means less time in a line waiting to go into the supermarket

You can feel good about reducing your impact on the environment too.

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, and trips to the supermarket.

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