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It’s that time of the year again, when your best laid nutritious eating plans tend to go out the window.
And I’m all for a bit of festive indulgence—goodness knows we all deserve a bit of joy this year—but while you may be throwing away your usual eating plan, temporarily at least, make sure you’re not throwing away a whole bunch of food with it.
There are no two ways about it, food waste is a huge global issue.
You may not think twice about chucking those leftovers you didn’t get around to eating, or that very sad looking tomato at the bottom of the veggie drawer that looks like it possibly pre-dates the pandemic—but it all adds up.
In the ACT alone, around 26,000 tonnes of household food waste goes to landfill each year.
“If edible food waste around the world was a country it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses,” says Yvette McKay from the ACT Government.
“Because it’s not just about the uneaten food itself. That food also required resources like land, water, transport, refrigeration and packaging. And when food waste goes to landfill, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.”
And it’s not just a problem for the environment—it’s most likely also hurting your wallet. It’s estimated that Australian households waste up to $3,800 every year by throwing away food that could have been eaten, which works out around $73 a week. Ouch.
So enough doom and gloom—what can we all do? The ACT Government has launched Love Food Hate Waste, a program to help us all reduce our food waste at home, with inspiring ideas, recipes, facts and resources.
Given the festive period is one of the most food-filled times of the year, here are some of their tips to cut down your food waste:
It’s all in the planning
What is your number one defence when it comes to avoiding food waste? Get planning. Most of us have learnt the hard way that going to the supermarket hungry can spell disaster, and it’s almost just as bad if you head to the shops without a list.
Before you even leave home, take a look at your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you have, and plan meals around that.
“And be realistic about how much food you’ll really need and try to prepare only what you and your guests will eat,” says Yvette.
To store is not a chore
Once you’ve got all your food home, it’s time to get strategic. By storing your food properly, you can keep things fresh for as long as possible, and help keep your food out of the bin.
Make sure everything is put away and stored in the right place, use airtight containers where relevant, and put labels on any food you’re freezing. Keep an eye on use by and best before dates, and make a mental note of when each bit of produce is at peak.
“My whole week revolves around the day my avocados are perfect, and that day, we have to have Mexican,” says Yvette.
As for any leftovers, Love Food Hate Waste has plenty of tips on how to best store your Christmas favourites to keep them fresher for longer.
Spread even more Christmas joy
Got people coming over to yours for a festive shindig? Instead of asking people to bring a plate, why not tell them to bring some Tupperware?
If everyone brings a container, you can keep the joy going by sharing any leftover food when they head home. They’ll be thanking you the next day when they have something delicious to tuck into, and you won’t be left with more leftovers than you can eat.
Take it away
Another big culprit of food waste around this time of year is heading off on holidays and completely forgetting about all the food you have at home, only to get home and realise it’s all gone off.
“Why not try to eat your fresh food stocks before you leave, pack an esky to take some fresh food with you, share excess produce with your neighbours before you set off for your trip or simply cut it up and freeze ready for a meal when you get back?” says Yvette.
Want more ideas on how to cut down and even eliminate your own food waste? Visit act.gov.au/foodwaste.
What: Love Food Hate Waste, a program to help you reduce food waste at home
Details: See act.gov.au/foodwaste