I’ve recently collaborated with the Victorian Government in the brilliant Love Food Hate Waste Campaign. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the costs (financial and environmental) associated with food waste, but when presented with these stats, I have to say I was really shocked and motivated to share this info with my tribe here at Well Nourished.
Costs to your family
According to Sustainability Victoria:
• The average Victorian household throws out $2,200 worth of food each year – that’s $42 per week!
• One fifth or 20% of the yearly grocery budget is wasted on average. That’s like throwing out 1 in every 5 bags of food you buy!
• Victorians collectively throw out $4 billion worth of food each year – that’s enough to feed 367,000 families for a year, based on a weekly spend of $207.
• Victorians throw away $700 million worth of leftovers per year – that’s enough to buy laptops for 580,000 school children
Two important tools for reducing food waste is to learn how best to store food and planning your shopping and meals. I have shared my food storage ideas to reduce food waste in this post, Top Three Tips to Reduce Food Waste (and save money). Today I’m sharing four simple planning strategies (including tips for when you haven’t planned) to ensure you consume all of the food you purchase, minimise your food waste and save money in the process!
Best of all, becoming a planner can also improve your health and wellbeing, here’s how…
1. Meal planning
Planning your meals ahead is a great way to minimise food wastage (if traditional meal planning isn’t for you, take a look at point three). If you can spend a little time each week thinking about what you are going to cook, the amount of food you waste will reduce.
Meal planning is also a great way to improve the amount of variety in your diet which is really important nutritionally. Variety not only makes meals more interesting but also extends the amount of nourishment that you will derive from your meals. A more nutritious diet means a healthier and happier you!
2. Now write a shopping list
Writing a shopping list and shopping only for the fresh produce you plan to use, is really important for minimising food wastage. Even if you haven’t managed to organise a meal plan, make sure you still shop with a list and never go grocery shopping when you are hungry. Stick to what’s on the list and avoid impulse buys that you will later regret – this is much easier achieved on a full stomach! If you find this tough, perhaps consider online shopping.
3. Reverse meal plan
So you’ve had an disorganised week or perhaps conventional meal planning just isn’t for you? Lets face it, life is unpredictable, but the good news is that you can still make the most of what’s in your fridge by reverse meal planning.
So to reverse meal plan, begin by choosing the produce that you need to use most urgently – something that’s about to go out of date or the vegetables that need to be used quickest. Now hit Google and do a keyword search. For example, you have chicken on its use by date and spinach and mushrooms that have almost seen better days in your fridge – pop online and search the words ‘chicken-spinach-mushrooms-recipes’ and you will have endless ideas for how to turn those ingredients into a delicious feast in the blink of an eye. Most savoury recipes are very forgiving so if you are missing an ingredient, either leave it out or search for a replacement ingredient online.
Reverse meal planning is also a great way to try new recipes and gain confidence in the kitchen. Perhaps you could consider dedicating a night a week (the night before your grocery shop) to use up leftovers with a ‘reverse’ meal plan.
4. Keep it simple
If you can’t be bothered following a recipe, then just keep it simple. Perhaps consider grilling or barbecuing your protein and baking or steaming the vegetables you need to use. The most delicious and nourishing way to create a tasty meal from basic ingredients is by serving them with a delicious home-made dressing. Meat, grains, legumes, salads and even cooked vegetables, when simply prepared all taste better with a delicious dressing. A good quality, home-made dressing not only improves the taste, but also assists in absorbing vital fat soluble vitamins from your food.
The perfect, easy to make dressing:
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of an acid (a nice vinegar, lemon or lime juice)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Pop it all into a small jar or bowl and shake or mix to combine.
Heaps more ideas for delicious and healthy dressing recipe, click here.
So with a little planning and forethought, food waste can be dramatically reduced. This is not only an investment in the health of the planet, but also your own health (financially and physically).
For more great ideas on minimising food waste check out the Love Food Hate Waste website.
I’d love your input on this post. Do you have routines or methods that reduce food waste? Share them by posting a comment below.