How often have you had too much food leftover after dinner? Do you find the people in your household often leave some on their plates, but never eat it as that midnight snack as they plan to do? Does this food end up in the bin, leaving you annoyed with the amount of food wastage?
The good news is, there are simple ways to reduce the amount of food wasted in your home every month. Whether you invest in a bag sealer to preserve food or simply prepare smaller portions, there’s always something you can do!
Saving Food – Easy Steps to Follow at Home!
On average, 7.6 million tons of food is wasted in Australia every year. In short, that means locals discard at least 20% of purchased food.
Producing and preparing food involves electricity, water usage, transport and a whole host of other functions. So, when food is thrown away it’s not only the actual product that’s wasted but the resources used to prepare or transport the final product.
If you consider the amount of food that’s thrown out in your home over a three-month basis, it can add up to a significant amount. We’ve asked our experts to help us compile a few simple tips to help you reduce food waste and in the process save some money!
Eat Smaller Portions
One of the simplest ways to prevent food wastage is to eat smarter. Essentially that comes down to dishing out smaller portions. Dishing up smaller portions will ensure that less food is wasted at the table.
Left-overs from the pot can be frozen for lunch or used as dinner for the following day. If you’re eating at a restaurant, ask for an entrée sized meal or opt to take a “doggy” bag with leftovers to have as lunch the next day.
Also encourage your children to dish up smaller portions if they’re often wasting food on their plates. Eating smaller portions will also be a guideline to cook less food with each meal. Remember, the less you prepare, the less there is to waste!
Buy and Prepare Only What’s Needed
The golden rule for preventing food waste is to buy and prepare only what’s needed. A useful tip here is to not cook when you’re hungry! Hungry people tend to cook more than they actually need.
Prepare fresh vegetables before they have a chance to expire. If you have a few vegetables that are reaching the end of their freshness cycle, consider using them to make a stew, casserole or soup. All three of these dishes can be frozen for eating at a later date.
When you’re more aware of the number of food servings your family needs, you can save on ingredients and money. When you buy canned goods or preserved food, you can check the label for number of servings. This keeps you from overestimating the serving size and ending up with food that’ll go untouched and stale.
There are also many online tutorials from chefs that you can read and watch to get expert tips on the proportions of ingredients for the number of servings you prefer. For example, you can learn how to cook Italian pasta that’s good for four, six, or nine people.
Invest In a Bag Sealer
A lot of food is wasted because of incorrect food storage methods. Storing food in the correct containers at the right temperatures will go a long way toward keeping the food fresh for a later date.
One of the best ways to store food more effectively is to invest in a bag sealer. Placing snacks, fruits and leftovers in plastic bags that can be vacuum-sealed is a great way to preserve food. Some of the benefits of using vacuum sealers include the following:
- Save money: Food doesn’t get thrown away as it can be vacuum sealed to remain fresh.
- Preserve food: Vacuum sealing food with a bag sealer prevents the growth of mould and bacteria since the food is deprived of oxygen.
- Protect food: When food is vacuum-sealed, it protects food from dehydration and freezer burn, giving it longer shelf life.
- Hold food flavour: Vacuum sealing food keeps in the moisture. This means juices aren’t dried up and the flavour of the food is preserved.
- Efficient storage: Unlike storing food in containers, vacuum sealing makes it easier to organise and store food in the fridge. You’ll be able to see what you’ve stored, and it will be fresh for months!
Put Your Food Waste to Use
If stored food can no longer be eaten, look for alternatives to throwing it away. Create a compost pile in the bottom of your garden or give the food to friends or neighbours who have chickens or pigs.
But how do you make compost using food waste? In a large container, like a repurposed pail, add a layer of soil. Add shredded paper and place the food scraps inside. A mix of dry and wet materials helps balance moisture and prevent foul smells. Next, use a repurposed lid and seal the container tightly.
If you know for certain there’s no way the leftovers are going to be eaten, don’t put them in the fridge to expire. Share with neighbours, friends or family. If you’ve prepared too much, invite a friend or two over for dinner.
Donating food to relief organisations like Foodbanks or shelters is also a good place to start. If the ingredients aren’t spicy and contain ingredients that dogs can eat, you might also enquire if your local animal shelter would like to spoil a few dogs with some table food.
In addition to donating food, you can reduce food waste by being aware of the available sustainable food suppliers and ways to reduce the use of other resources during meal preparation. Practising sustainable food sourcing and preparation can help you save money, which you can donate to Ghana or any other country to help reduce the hunger rate worldwide.
Planning meals and portions aren’t only for people following a strict diet. Taking the time to plan your family’s portions based on what they’re known to eat will go a long way to ensuring more empty plates and containers are left behind.