The impact of food waste directly on our pockets comes from so many angles – the rising cost of food production, rates increases to cover the cost of rubbish collection and disposal (nearly all household rubbish is either food, or food packaging), not to mention the huge impact on the environment!
Yet all too often we neglect to calculate the true cost of our food spending because food is a necessity. We are roughly aware of our grocery bill – and we try to keep our spending under our budgeted amount – but we fail to factor in the quick trips to the dairy, the nights we grab a bottle of wine on the way home, or the cost of convenience foods when we’ve forgotten to pack lunch.
But what about the money wasted on food that goes in the bin?
The true cost of food wastage in this country would shock most consumers.
While we may feel pretty food savvy, it is estimated that the average household food waste amounts to nearly $600 annually. That translates to just over $870 million nationwide every year. Keep in mind that these figures are based on a rubbish bin audit – it doesn’t cover any food that may have been composted, sent down the waste disposer or fed to animals.
Reducing food wastage is not only good for your budget, it’s better for the environment, and it frees up more of your hard earned money so you can invest it in items that won’t go bad after a week.
If you’re feeling inspired to start trimming back on your food waste, here are a few ways to adjust your current shopping and food habits to help you curb the wastage:
Shop to a list
Check out what is already in your pantry/fridge/freezer before you head to the supermarket, make a meal plan for the week, and only purchase what you need. Planning meals ahead of time is and having the ingredients on hand to make them is an easy way to not only save on your grocery bill and wastage, but also an easy way to cull the need for weeknight takeaways. Double savings!
While you will have to pay for a delivery fee, it’s a great way to only buy what you need. There’s no chance you will distracted or tempted by things that aren’t on your list because you won’t see them. It’s much easier to stick to your list when you can’t smell fresh bread or instore soup demonstrations, so shop online if you’re easily swayed.
Store your food properly
Most of us store milk and eggs in the door of the refrigerator. Yet milk should be stored at the back and near the bottom where the temperature is colder, and eggs should be stored near the middle where the temperature is more consistent. Extending the shelf life of stored goods is key to reducing waste. There are great online guides about the best ways and places to store fresh and pantry goods to ensure you get the most out of your food.
Know the difference between ‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’
There is a big difference between Best Before and Use By. A Use By date should be kept to – for example fish, chicken, some dairy products etc. A Use By is a safety guide and protects both the consumer and the retailer. However, a Best Before date is just a general guide to when the product is at its best but many products can be consumed safely for weeks or months after their Best Before date. Even eggs and milk can still be safely consumed up to two weeks after their Best Before date!
Find alternative uses for perishables
Did you know that bread makes up 10% of household food waste? Get savvy with your scraps. Turn those unwanted crusts into stuffing for your Sunday roast, or breadcrumbs for schnitzel. Use vegetable trimmings and meat offcuts to make healthy homemade stocks and broths. Repurposing perishables is a great way of getting creative and creating new meal ideas while minimising food waste.
All it takes is a little bit of forward thinking, a conscious effort to only buy what you need, and finding the tastiest and most economical ways to get the most out of your food.
Being aware of just how much you can potentially save on food every year should provide any money savvy household with enough motivation to make positive changes.