10 ways to reduce food waste at home

Reducing food waste is not only good for the environment, but also for your wallet.

Here are ten actionable tips to help you cut down on food waste at home....

1. Plan your meals

Planning meals in advance is a powerful tool to reduce food waste. Before you go shopping, take time to map out your meals for the week. This way, you buy only what you need and avoid impulse purchases that often lead to waste.

Tip: Use a meal planning app or a simple notebook to jot down your weekly menu and create a shopping list based on it.

2. Store food properly

Proper storage extends the life of your food. Learn the best ways to store different types of food. For instance, keep fruits and vegetables in separate bins in your fridge, as some produce like apples emit ethylene gas that can spoil others quickly.

Tip: Use airtight containers to store leftovers and transfer pantry items like flour, grains, and nuts into sealed jars to keep them fresh longer.

3. Understand expiry dates

"Best before" and "use by" dates can be confusing. "Best before" indicates quality, meaning the food is still safe to eat after this date but may not be at its peak flavour. "Use by" dates, however, are about safety and should be adhered to.

Tip: Trust your senses - look, smell, and taste - before throwing away food that has passed its "best before" date.

4. First in, first out

Organise your fridge and kitchen cupboards so that older items are at the front and newer ones are at the back. This method, known as FIFO, helps ensure that older items are used before they spoil.

Tip: Designate a section in your fridge for foods that need to be consumed soon, so they’re easily visible and prioritised.

5. Make the most of your freezer

The freezer is your best friend when it comes to reducing waste. Freeze leftovers, bread and even herbs. Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen and used later in cooking.

Tip: Label and date everything you freeze to keep track of what you have and when it needs to be used.

6. Get creative with leftovers

Transform leftovers into new meals. For example, leftover roast chicken can become a chicken stir fry, and less-fresh vegetables can be turned into a hearty soup, or blended up with herbs and tomatoes to create a tasty pasta sauce.

Tip: Search for recipes that specifically use leftovers or combine various ingredients you have on hand.

7. Compost

Composting is an excellent way to deal with food scraps like vegetable peels and coffee grounds. Composting turns waste into nutrient-rich soil that you can use in your garden.

Tip: If you don’t have space for a traditional compost bin, consider a small indoor composting system, a worm tower or a community composting program.

8. Portion control

Avoid cooking more than you can eat by paying attention to portion sizes. Start with smaller portions, and offer seconds if needed. This reduces the likelihood of uneaten food ending up in the bin, and makes it easier to repurpose leftovers.

Tip: Serving food 'family style' in a big dish is an easy way for everyone to only take what they need, and your leftovers are ready for the fridge once you're done.

9. Preserve food

Learn preservation techniques like canning, pickling and drying. These methods can significantly extend the shelf life of seasonal produce and reduce waste.

Tip: Start with simple recipes like homemade jams or pickled cucumbers to get the hang of preserving.

10. Get everyone involved

Teach your family and friends about the importance of reducing food waste. Make it a fun and educational activity by involving everyone in meal planning, shopping and cooking, and sharing your favourite low-waste recipes.

Tip: Create a family challenge to see who can come up with the best zero-waste recipes, or track how much waste you’ve reduced together.

By implementing these tips, you’ll not only reduce the amount of food you throw away but also save money and contribute to a more sustainable environment.

Start small, make gradual changes, and soon reducing food waste will become second nature.