Ten Easy Ways to Minimise Food Waste

Throwing away food not only hurts the planet, it’s costing us a lot of money. Why not save the planet and your budget with these ten easy ways to reduce food waste?


Liz de Vries

12/9/2021 5 min read

Key Points:
  • Every year we Australians throw away 300kg of food per person.

  • 45% of our food waste ends up in landfill causing nearly 10% of our total greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Our food waste adds up to more than $10 billion each year. We are currently throwing away around 12.5% of our weekly shop (that's on average $1,000 per year per household).

1.     Buy only what you need

How easy is it to buy too much food! You hit the supermarket and there they are, the yummy foods beckoning you to take them home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this! This is where the trusty shopping list comes in. Instead of browsing from aisle to aisle, the list on my phone keeps me 'on mission' and before I know it I’m at the checkout. If your overbuying is very persistent you could even go so far as to make a meal plan at the start of the week. Figure out what groceries you need to create all your planned meals and head to the store with your shopping list in hand.

2.     Separate your fruits from your veggies

Fruits emit a lot more ethylene (a hormone that affects the ripening and flowering of plants) than vegetables. At the same time vegetables are more sensitive to ethylene than fruits. The ethylene emitted by fruit speeds up the deterioration process in your veggies. To avoid them going off too soon, store them away from your fruit.

3.   Store all your food correctly

Use airtight containers to store food. Repurposed glass jars are as good as any and are great for your budget. Beeswax wraps also do an excellent job. Use them among others to cover bowls of leftovers, bunches of fresh herbs or cheese. For fresh produce follow this simple rule: where did you find it in the supermarket? Was it in the fridge? Store it in the fridge. Kept at room temperature in the shop? Keep it at room temperature at home. And what to do with a bumper crop from the veggie garden? Pickling and dehydrating are great techniques if you want to extend the life of fresh foods. Check out Excalibur Dehydrators Australia if you're considering the latter.

4.     Use up what you have first

When you arrive home with your groceries, put the items you just purchased at the back of the shelf or fridge and bring the products that were already there to the front. Use them up first. You could even put a 'use me first' box in the fridge. I’ve seen these a lot on my Instagram feed in the last six months and I think they’re a really good idea. Especially for family fridges and pantries.

5.     Check the dates on the pack

‘Best before’ does not equal ‘use by’. Best before means literally that. The appearance of the product will be best before the listed date, but you can still safely use it. Use by on the other hand means consumption after this date is not recommended.

6.  Don't overstack your plate

Guilty of this one too! Especially after sport. But no matter how hungry you are, start with a slightly smaller portion than you think you can eat. If you’re still hungry after you can always have seconds.

7.  Don't seek perfection

Just because an apple or carrot has a somewhat irregular shape or is on the small side doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. The consequence of us demanding ‘perfect’ produce is that an insane amount of food never even makes it to the shops. We should all be buying veggies and fruits for their flavour as much as their looks. If you must, use perfectly shaped fruit and veg to create that pretty dish and all other fresh produce for your delicious smoothies, stews, soups and crumbles.

8.  Use your leftovers

They make the best, most budget friendly lunch the next day. Or dinner on soccer training night. We have a four day rule at home: left overs can be kept in the fridge for up to four days from when they were cooked. You can keep them a lot longer in the freezer of course. Cover your leftovers with colourful - biodegradable! - beeswax wraps. They're widely available and even come in DIY kits. Envirocask and Beeutiful are two brands you'll find on our website who have a good variety of prints and sizes.

9.  Use peels and scraps to make stock

I saw this tip on TV a few years ago and it makes so much sense. Collect your veggie peels and scraps from food prep and store them in a bag or container in the freezer. When the bag is full use the contents to make stock for soup or stew. Brilliant!

10.  Still have food scraps left?

Feed your dog, chickens or guinea pigs or create a worm farm. If you have sufficient space around your home, start a compost heap or buy a compost bin.

The ShareWaste app connects people who don't have room for a compost heap or bin, or worm farm with others who are willing to take on extra organic waste.