What the fork, Australia! Mozo data has revealed that, as a nation, we’re throwing out an eye-watering $8 billion worth of food per year making it our second biggest unnecessary money drain.
Bringing it down to a more personal level, that nationwide costs means that the average Aussie household is throwing out $950 a year in groceries, or $328 per person. Just imagine what that money could do to your family holiday fund or how much interest it could accrue in a high interest savings account.
Our wasteful food habits don’t look so good when we compare them with the rest of the world, either. According to Ten Insider, Australia ranks as the second least resourceful food consuming country in the world, with a whopping 400,000 tonnes of precious nutrients finding their way into landfill every year – that’s almost 400 kilograms per household!
But fortunately, we’ve caught you just before the festive season arrives and our fridges begin to fill up with fresh food and tasty treats. Check out nine of our top tips to minimise your family food waste and maximise your savings.
1. Plan your grocery trip
Whether you grab your notepad and pen or prefer a digital list, planning your grocery haul is super important and means you’ll be able to make savings immediately.
Our friends at RaboDirect found that 43% of Aussies throw out their food because they simply buy too much of it. To avoid this expensive trap, do some extra homework before you leave the house, scour the pantry and fridge and make sure you’re not doubling up on products you already have.
2. Don’t be swayed by specials
You’ve neatly compiled your list, but haven’t taken into account the in-store specials and now that you’re being confronted face-to-face with those flashy tags streaming down the aisle, you might be considering a whole range of products that you actually don’t need.
Resist the temptation, trust your preparation and stick to the list!
3. Move older food to the front of your fridge
RaboDirect’s research also found that 82% of us throw out a bunch of our food because it goes off before we can use it, so take a little time when you get back from the grocery store and move your oldest foods to the front of your pantry and fridge and make sure you use them first.
4. Monitor what you do throw out
No one is perfect, so our tip here is to take note of what you do throw out and check this list again before you go for your weekly shop.
Maybe you haven’t actually been using some of the stuff you’re planning to buy and even if you think you will, maybe you’d be better off buying a little less of it.
5. Inaugurate leftover night
I’m not sure about you, but by Friday night the fridge at my house is packed to the brim with towers of tupperware containing the best bits from four nights of homemade dinners.
Clear out the fridge (making space for the incumbent weekend grocery haul) and recreate your favourite meal from the past four days, saving on what could have added up to be quite a pricey takeaway dinner.
Rinse and repeat each week and you’ll soon be looking forward to a new family tradition – leftover night.
6. Get creative in the kitchen
We all had dreams of being 3-star Michelin chefs when we were a bit younger, right? Okay maybe that was just me, but put the fun back into cooking and get creative by making meals using just the items you currently have in your kitchen or pantry.
We recommend having a crack at this on the weekends when time is of a premium and the temptation to take the takeaway route is high. To get your creative juices flowing, here are 19 recipes you can probably replicate with what you have at home – thanks Buzzfeed!
7. Become a storage master
This is a two-part tip.
Part 1: Check your fridge seals and thermostat to make sure it is performing optimally and doing the best it possibly can to keep your food fresh. PS: You’ll also save on energy costs.
Part 2: Know your fridge zones. Knowing what goes where in the fridge is absolutely key when it comes to making the most of your food. If you’re unsure of where to stock the cold meat or if the cheese should stay on the top shelf, check out Food Republic’s handy infographic here.
8. Grow your own
Grow your own what? Preferably everything, but we all know that isn’t really realistic. What you can do, however, is put some of your precious pennies towards curating your favourite selection of fresh herbs in a mini herb garden.
Not only will you immediately cut grocery costs but fresh herbs have the power to bring leftovers to life, are stacked with micronutrients and you can pick the exact amount you need which means you won’t be throwing any out.
9. Keep it simple
We’re going to advocate you spend some money now, but don’t lose us – this is on good advice. Speaking at RaboDirect’s sustainable food pop-up this week, award-winning chef Martin Boetz revealed the three items to always have on hand: lemon juice, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
These staples, he said, will freshen up a whole host of leftover or uncooked veggies and when you add some simple herbs (from your personal garden), you’ll be able to create a whole host of simple yet delicious meals. Put them on the list, now!
By following our top tips, not only will you be doing a great thing for the planet, and also your fellow human, but you’re likely to build up a nice little savings kitty and make sure you’re putting that to best use by comparing a range of high interest savings account here.