How to avoid wasting fresh food

Food wastage costs Australians a massive $5.2 billion each year and contributes to roughly three million tonnes of unnecessary landfill. To make that a bit more personal, let’s take that number down to how much the average household throws away – 136kg of food or $616.

Yes, you did read that correctly. On average, your household is literally throwing away more than $600 each year by not eating your fruit and veg.

So how can you save that money rather than wasting it?


Being organised makes life a lot easier and this applies to the kitchen too.

  • Go through your fridge and pantry and take stock of what you have and don’t have. This is a great way of finding out what you do and don’t need, and saves you from buying the sort of items you already have enough of.
  • Make a shopping list and write down only what you need – nothing more, nothing less. This can also help you think more about what you feed yourself and your family, maybe showing how many unhealthy products you usually buy.
  • Meal planning can be a clever idea for those households who are on a tight budget, or are just looking to eat healthier foods. Combining planned meals with your shopping list should also help you cut down on unnecessary foods that may just go to waste.

Cook in bulk – have meals on hand

Fresh food will often sit at the bottom of the fridge until it goes off, so the best thing to do is use it while it’s still fresh. Meal planning can help you organise what you’re going to cook and when, and doing a big cook at the start of each week is a good plan.

Cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers also makes busy working weeks easier because you can take your frozen meals to work or school for lunch, or use them as a quick dinner.

Try a vegetarian meal

If you find there are still lots of veggies left in your fridge at the end of the week, perhaps it’s time to try a veg-heavy meal. Not only will it be packed full of nutrients, but it will also be super healthy.

Opt for frozen veg

There are misconceptions about how healthy frozen veg is, but it’s just as good for you as fresh veggies are. This is because the vegetables are frozen when they are picked and all of the nutrients remain sealed inside.

Frozen veggies are popular amongst Australian consumers, with 53% buying them because they tend to waste fresh veg, our most recent survey on the subject found. Others simply love the convenience they offer, as chopping veg can be time-consuming. Having a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables is probably ideal, giving you the best of both worlds.

Healthy school lunches

It’s easy to stick a packet of crisps and a ham and cheese sandwich in your kids’ school lunch boxes, but it’s also a good idea to give them some healthy food options. So, instead of chips, why not opt for crackers and cheese, or perhaps carrot sticks and dip. Put some salad on that sandwich and pack some fruit as a sweet treat like grapes, mandarin segments, bananas, apples or oranges.

For more tips on how to use your fresh food and avoid wasting it, check out the Food Cents Program.

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