If we reduce the amount of food we waste, we're reducing the amount of food we buy, and reducing our food bills!
In New Zealand the average family wastes around 86kg of edible food a year and that’s worth around $644! If you put all that wasted food together it would feed Dunedin for nearly 3 months. So, one of the best things that we can do to save ourselves money is to look at the amount of food we waste! Less wasted food means lower food bills. Making the most out of the food we have bought is just one way that everyone can Eat Well and Pay Less.
TIP #1 – WRITE A SHOPPING LIST
It might sound like a no-brainer but a great way to reduce the amount of food you waste is to buy only the food you need. And the easiest way to do that is to write a shopping list. Planning ahead helps you save money on your groceries for you and your family.
TIP #2 – KEEP FOOD IN YOUR FRIDGE
Keeping certain foods in the fridge helps them last much longer – apples can last up to 8 weeks! Eggs also do better in the fridge, particularly in summer because they tend to go off quicker in the warm weather. And try popping your bread in the fridge or freezer to stop them from getting mouldy. Pull out a couple slices at a time when you need them. Always wrap your open cheese too – this means that you won’t get the hard and unusable end. Beeswax wraps are great for wrapping around cheese, or you can always pop it in a plastic container. Check the temperature of your fridge too, to make sure it’s sitting at around 4 degrees. Studies show that up to 70% of Kiwis fridges are running too warm which means that food spoils quicker.
TIP #3 – AVOID STORING CERTAIN FOODS TOGETHER
Often, we just put all our fruit and veg all in one bowl, basket or cupboard, but this isn’t the best thing to do! Take bananas for example – they emit gases that cause fruits around them to ripen much quicker, so keep your bananas separate to everything else and you’ll find your fruit lasts much longer. You can use this to your advantage too, especially if you have a too-hard avocado that needs ripening, just tuck it underneath a banana and it’ll be ripe in no time! The other mistake that a lot of us make is storing onions and potatoes together. Onions emit the same gases as bananas, which means that your potatoes ripen and start to sprout sooner than you’d like! Keep your onions away from your potatoes, and you’ll get more life out of them.
TIP #4 – VEGETABLE STORING HACKS
Carrots are much better taken out of the plastic bag and wrapped in a paper towel, put in a plastic box – this way they’ll stay crunchier for longer! Bagged salad often goes soggy quickly, so when you get home chop off the top of the bag and pop in a piece of paper towel. That will absorb the moisture that’s in the salad and it will keep it lasting for an extra couple of days without it going soggy.
TIP #5 – SAVING VEGETABLES
If you’ve got something like celery that has gone a little bit floppy, bring it back to life by chopping off the ends and popping it in a glass of water. The same goes with broccoli and spring onions! Another thing with broccoli is not to waste the stalk – lots of people throw it away, but you can chop off the end and any hard bits, and use the rest of the stalk in stir-fry's, coleslaw or soups.
TIP #6 - MAKING BETTER USE OF YOUR FREEZER
Frozen vegetables are fantastic, equally as good for you as the fresh ones, and sometimes better because they’re picked and frozen quickly that preserves all the nutrients. You can freeze milk too! If you’re going away for the weekend and you’ve got half a bottle of milk you can freeze it, don’t throw it away! Then, once you’re home again you can just get it out to thaw and the milk is just as good as it was before you froze it.
TIP #7 – KEEP YOUR LEFTOVERS
Don't just throw away your leftovers! Keep them in the fridge as a snack for tomorrow, or better still, make a larger batch and have it as a meal later in the week. \
TIP #8 – USE YOUR FOOD SCRAPS
If you have the space, get a worm farm. It's a fun way to turn your kitchen scraps into rich fertiliser for your garden. Or why not get a couple of chickens? They can eat through a lot of the food you probably throw away.
Challenge yourself to reduce your food waste
By following these simple steps we can all waste less food and save money on our groceries. For more ways to eat well and pay less, check out our other articles.