Four tips to cut food waste at home

19 August 2021

Has covid changed the way you buy groceries? Maybe you’re shopping more online? What about your eating habits? Are you getting more takeaway?

UQ Sustainability shares tips to help you minimise food waste, regardless of restrictions.

The OzHarvest four-word campaign

We've written before about OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn's fabulous four-word campaign to cut food waste:

  • Look
  • Buy 
  • Store
  • Cook.

Lockdowns and restrictions over the past year have changed food habits for many of us, presenting some unexpected opportunities to put the four OzHarvest tips into practice.

Look at what you have already

One of the key tips OzHarvest recommend here is to write a list and plan your meals

Both of Australia's major supermarket chains recently reported e-commerce sales growth of more than 50% over the last year or half-year (results available here and here).

This indicates many of us are now buying our groceries online. Especially during covid outbreaks.

Online shopping is the ideal time to make a list and stick to it! You can make lists via the supermarket apps, or use one of the many terrific free shopping list apps available nowadays.

Even better, shopping at home makes it super easy for you to check the fridge before you buy something!

Buy only what you need

Being able to check the fridge more easily should mean you're more likely to buy only what you need each time that you shop. 

But we've all seen the scenes of panicked pandemic shopping. That's one area where we can pay attention and try to make choices that are as sustainable as possible.

Don't buy more fresh produce than you can use, for example. A meal plan might also help keep you on track at the check out.

This goes for ordering takeaway, too. Do you tend to over order? Think about whether you and your family or housemates can share a meal before you click the buy button. Your wallet will also thank you for it!

If you did stockpile a few extra tins early last year, consider looking up some recipes to use those now, before you buy more food. Using your tins could also give you a chance to embrace Meat Free Monday.

Store food correctly

OzHarvest have some tips on best practice food storage. Even leftover takeaways can often be kept to finish the next day.

As spring approaches and the warmer weather speeds up ripening times for fresh fruit and vegetables, store your ripe produce in the fridge if you won't be eating it immediately.

If you've also taken to planting edibles during the pandemic, you'll want to make sure your homegrown harvest doesn't go to waste. After you've offered some to your neighbours, perhaps you could consider preserving, drying or making jams or chutneys.

And don't forget, food scraps like fruit or vegetable skins can go right back into your garden via a compost. Here are our composting tips.

Cook creatively

Spending more time at home means eating more meals at home, too.

Maybe you have time to cook lunch, when you would normally eat just a sandwich at the office?

This might make it easier for you to get through your leftovers! Again, try looking up new recipes that use the ingredients you have in your fridge, before you buy more food or open your delivery app.