According to research, the average family throws away as much as $100 worth of food every month. As well as being incredibly wasteful, this is also money that most of us can’t afford to lose. Here are some tips for minimising your food wastage so that you’re not literally throwing money in the bin.
Meal planning. If you can get yourself into the habit of planning your meals in advance, you’ll waste a lot less food. Draw up a meal schedule that covers anything from one week to one month and work out which ingredients you’ll need to put the meals together. Be sure to have a look in the fridge, freezer and cupboards so that you’re not buying things that you’ve already got. The golden rule of meal planning is to buy only what you need so that you can be sure that you’re not buying more than you’re likely to eat. If you doubt your ability to stick rigidly to your list, try paying in cash and only heading out with enough money to cover your planned spends. That way, you should avoid the temptation to add more to your haul as you won’t be able to pay for it.
Control portions. A lot of food wastage comes from cooking too. This isn’t a big problem if excess food from one meal is recycled as meals or snacks in the following days, but you need to rethink your portion control if it’s just going straight in the bin. If freezing leftovers and eating them another day isn’t an option for you, experiment with producing smaller portions when cooking until you strike the right balance and aren’t wasting food.
Get creative with leftovers. Rather than throwing leftovers straight in the bin, think about how you can incorporate them into a meal. Build a store cupboard and stockpile food items that you can help you. Things like rice, pasta and couscous are great for this and can be added to vegetables, meat, fish, beans etc. to use them up. If you find that you get bored of eating leftovers two or more days in a row, change up how you get rid of them to limit the probability that you’ll bin them through lack of interest. For example, if you’ve got leftover chicken that was originally part of a meal, add it to a salad to use up what’s left or use it in sandwiches.
Freeze what you can. Many food items have short best before dates, which often leads to them being thrown away if you don’t eat them before they ‘expire’. You can extend the life of your food by freezing it and thawing bits out as and when you need them. Not everything lends itself to being frozen so be sure to check whether the packaging states that it’s okay to pop in the freezer.
Rotate your fridge contents. Bring food items with short expiry dates to the front of the fridge so that they don’t get forgotten. If they’re right in front of you every time you open the fridge, it should encourage you to use them up.
Be careful with bulk buying. You can save a good chunk of money by buying things in bulk but only when it’s a sensible decision. Resist the temptation to bulk buy if you suspect that you won’t get through everything before it expires as it will be a waste of money otherwise.
Always take a list. Don’t rely on memory alone when you’re stocking up in the supermarket. Chances are, you’ll find that you buy things that you’ve already got at home and forget some of the things that you actually needed.
So, how much money are you throwing away? What are you going to do to reduce this amount?