Imagine 5 shopping bags full of your favourite food in front of you. Now imagine throwing 1 of those bags straight into the trash.
OK, we know what you're thinking - there's no way you'd ever disrespect food like that. But, according to research conducted by Foodwise, Australians throw out a staggering 20 per cent of the groceries they buy, so chances are you might already be doing it.
Food waste is sadly an epidemic that only seems to be getting worse, but there are ways to fight back. We've put together 5 great tips to get you on your way.
1. Get the most out of your compost
Composting is a super obvious but effective way to reduce (and reuse) food waste. It doesn't really require that much effort, plus it provides you with nutritiously-rich fertiliser your garden will love you for - win-win.
You can compost fruit and vegetable peelings, meat scraps, egg shells, teabags, and a bunch of other organic food scraps. Put your compost in a spot where it has drainage and is semi-shaded (too much heat will dry it out), and let nature do the rest!
2. Best Before vs. Used By
Most people see the date on an item of food and assume that's when they must part ways, but that's not necessarily the case. There's a key difference between 'Best Before' and 'Used By' dates, and it's all in the name.
If something says 'Used By', you want to make sure you've eaten it before that date rolls around. But if something simply says "Best Before", it's the manufacturer's way of telling you that while this product will probably be better if consumed before that date, it's probably still safe to eat afterwards if it's been stored properly.
3. Be sure to store (correctly)
Which brings us to our next point; storing food in the right way. Putting things in airtight containers so they don't get stale or attacked by unwelcome critters, making sure you rotate items in your fridge so there's not a forgotten carrot abandoned at the bottom of your crisper drawer, and even making sure your refrigerator temperature is set correctly (between 1-5 degrees Celsius) all go into ensuring food lasts longer and doesn't have to exit your home in a body (garbage) bag.
4. Write that grocery list
Sure, it sounds simple, but for some reason it's still an area that many shoppers struggle with. Making a list before you go shopping has many benefits. It forces you to check what you've already got before you go (and not double up on food that will later be wasted as a result). It saves you money on impulse purchases. And - what we're all here for - it makes sure you're organised with your meal plan so that the food you buy will end up being enjoyed, not thrown out.
5. Love your leftovers
We've all misjudged the amount of dry pasta to cook and ended up with enough spaghetti to feed the east coast of Italy. Whether it's a completed meal or components of a meal (think that delicious pasta sauce you just made), putting it in a container and freezing for another day both saves food waste and means you'll have an easy option down the track when you're feeling a little uninspired to cook.
Being conscience of your food at all stages, from what you buy at the grocery store through to making sure you use everything before it gets spoiled, goes a long way in making sure you waste significantly less food. And if it all seems a bit overwhelming, remember - even small steps go a long way to making a big change.