Every single month 710,000 Australians seek food relief and around 180,000 of these are children. Not only that but in the last twelve months, 50% of charities have reported an increase in the number of people seeking food relief. It’s a staggering amount and there doesn’t seem to be a straightforward answer as to how this is happening in such a prosperous country.
We know there’s enough food produced worldwide to feed everyone, so where’s it all going?
The short answer, unfortunately, is landfill. One in five bags of shopping in Australia ends up in the bin. We’re throwing away around $1,036 per household each year – that’s the same as a plane ticket to Europe!
So, how can you reduce your household waste? It’s a lot easier than you might think and every little bit counts (towards your overseas holiday).
1. Plan your meals
This one sounds obvious but most of us are so busy during the working week we forget. We’ve all been there, scrambling to think about what you’re going to want for dinner 5 days from now, or going shopping when you’re starving – only to come out and realise you’ve bought enough for a small army. However, if you can find five minutes to make a shopping list, standard notes apps are great for this, you’ll save money, food and time.
2. Leftovers aka lunch
What happens if you make too much? Easy, you’ve got your lunch made for work, school meals for kids or dinner when you get home after a long day…without any extra effort needed! Also, it gives you an extra ten minutes to lie in the next morning. Now, let’s not forget about the financial benefits either, lunch out costs an average of $10, which is $50 a week and that’s $2600 a year! So now you’ve got a flight and a hotel in Europe!
3. Where you store your food matters
To avoid your food going bad before you even have a chance to get to it, it’s important to know where certain fruit and veg like to live in your kitchen. Here some of our favourite tips :
- Apples: Should be stored away from other products because they produce ethylene gas. Store them on the counter for up to a week or if you want to stretch their life pop them in the fridge
- Bananas: Keep these guys away from the fridge, they belong on the counter
- Fruits with stones like nectarines, peaches and plums should all be kept on the counter until they’re ripe and then put in the fridge, you’d be surprised how much longer they’ll last
- Tomatoes: Never put your tomatoes in a fridge, this makes them rot much faster; leave them on your counter and away from the stove or the sun.
To learn more about storing fruit and veggies visit heart.org .
4. Expiration dates are not sacred
‘Best before’ dates are more guidelines for food quality and not so much for food safety. Your bread might not be at its softest after its best before date but it’s certainly not bad for you. Checking if food has gone off is really about intuition, trust your senses, they’re your in-built expiration detectors. But just in case, here are some easy ways to tell if your food has gone bad:
- Beef that’s off has a bad smell and a slimy, sticky or tacky texture. However, changes in colour are not always indicators of bad meat
- Olive oil stops smelling of olives when it goes off and starts to smell like motor oil or glue
- Green veggies turn yellow, but that doesn’t mean they’re not salvageable, just chop off those yellow parts and soak the rest in water for ten minutes to refresh them
If you do want a bit more guidance though, Business Insider has you covered.
5. There’s an app for that!
Check out OLIO, it’s a great food sharing app that connects people in your area so if you find something you don’t want or you’ve made too much food, Olio will find you a neighbour willing to take it off your hands. Don’t fancy that? What about YWaste, an app that works just like your regular takeaway. Bakeries, restaurants and cafes post their surplus food from that day on the app, where you can then buy it at hugely discounted rates and all you have to do is pick it up.
And if you do have food waste, don’t throw it out, instead think about compost. A great app to help if you don’t have your own compost system is Sharewaste. They’ll point you towards people in your local area that are only too happy to accept your food scraps for their compost bins or chooks.