Our individual shopping habits are profoundly linked to the amount of food we throw out.
With $7.8 billion of food already being wasted by Australians each year, food price increases are coming at a time when many can least afford it. Past analysis of why we waste so much food show that we buy far more than we need and bin food which is perfectly edible.
Here are some tips to help you plan your shopping for a waste free kitchen:
1. Shopping list
One of the most simple things you can do to avoid over-buying is write a shopping list. By taking two minutes before you leave the house to check your cupboards, fridge and freezer, you can quickly gauge what you already have in stock and simultaneously avoid food duplications whilst getting ideas for your next meal.
2. Plan a weekly menu
Plan a weekly menu, including supplies for morning teas and lunch boxes. Work it so that you can make the most out of leftovers. On the last night of the week, make a list of simple perishables such as a savoury mince or casserole dish. Write down all ingredients needed, then cross-check the list with your fridge and pantry. That way you buy only what you don’t have already. You’ll also save money by not impulse buying, and you’ll have a healthier and more varied diet for it.
3. Special offers
You’ve heard this one before, but it’s one worth repeating: always think twice about bulk buy specials. While buying on mass can be a great money saver – especially for dry goods which can last months stored well in your pantry – they can also be a notorious cause of waste. If you’re taking advantage of special promotions, always check the use-by date to be sure you have enough time to use it. For perishables especially, it’s a great idea to make a plan for how to use excess to make sure nothing goes to waste. Freezing goods in airtight containers before they reach their used by date is also a fantastic option to prolong their edible lifespan.
4. Know when not to shop
The golden rule: never go food shopping when you’re hungry. Not only will it make you susceptible to typical food waste traps such as those mentioned above, it’ll also push you to do your shopping faster than you might ordinarily. Snap decisions are often the most wasteful and speed can often get in the way of making smarter, more sustainable choices. So remember, eat first, then shop.
You’re unlikely to let your children dictate the way you dress in the morning, or the colour you decide to paint your house. The same should apply for foods. While it’s a fantastic idea to get your kids involved in the kitchen and helping to choose foods from your local market or store, don’t let their spontaneous desire for foodstuffs draw you into buying foods you don’t want. Especially if they’re choosing a food simply because of the packaging, these foods will often loose their interest for kids and become more fuel for your kitchen waste bin.