Australians send four million tonnes of food to landfill every year – but it’s easy to reduce food waste with these 5 easy tips.
Around 40 per cent of the average bin is leftovers and fresh produce that has been left to wilt.
This waste is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — for every tonne of food waste not sent to landfill, almost one tonne of CO2 emissions is saved.
So, what do we find in Australian bins and how can we reduce what we’re throwing out? It is possible to reduce your ‘waste footprint’, but it requires organisation and forethought.
You can put these easy tips to work straight away.
1. Fresh food
There are two key reasons why we’re throwing out fresh food; we’re buying too much of it and we’re not storing it correctly.
Storing food correctly
You know how everyone thinks they should store their potatoes with their onions? Turns out that’s wrong. Read our handy guide on how to store veggies and keep them fresher for longer.
Plan your meals
The average Australian household throws away one in every five bags full of groceries; an easy fix for the home is to simply reduce the amount of stuff that you buy overall.
There are hundreds of meal plan templates available online – start by choosing from your favourite cookbook or browse the hundreds of recipes available online.
Once you start planning ahead, you can make accurate grocery lists, avoid impulse purchases and have a plan for all the ingredients you bring home.
There are two ways to reduce the leftovers you throw out; store any large quantities you may not get through in the next couple of days in the freezer or simply pack them for lunch the following day.
Did you make a roast or have you got a little too much leftover rice? Simply add some lettuce leaves and salad ingredients for a super easy and stress-free lunch. Leftover fruits and veg? Freeze them. Fruits make great smoothie and porridge additions, and veggies can be used in a soup or stew.
3. Packaged and long-life products
Buying packaged food in bulk can look like a great money saver, but not if you only get halfway through before the rest is spoiled. Use smaller airtight containers and ziplock bags for portioning out products like rice, pasta and cereal into a day or week’s worth apiece. Some foods can have their excess frozen; even cooked pasta will freeze (just make sure it wasn’t beyond al dente, or it can go to mush on reheating). Toss through a bit of olive oil, let it cool, into a bag and straight into the freezer. Reheat in the microwave or let it soften a little and then dump it in the pot with your sauce at the end of its cooking time.
#HisenseHack: With “My Fresh Choice” features you can choose either deep freeze, medium freeze or even light freeze. -18C to -5C in the Hisense 695L French Door Fridge.
When it comes to packaged meals, they’re handy in the smart fridge, but expensive to throw out. Either freeze them if you’re not eating them that night, or go back to your meal plan and factor in homemade meals you can have waiting in the freezer. Making your own can be far more economical overall.
Long-life products like milk, juice and tins are brilliant, but check what’s in your pantry regularly and move things that need to be used soon to the front.
Don’t you hate the feeling of tipping out a bottle of beautiful red wine that you started but never got to finish? Check out the dozens of recipes for making red-wine vinegar with the leftovers.
Flat soft drinks in the fridge or after the party? Check out lemonade and cola recipes for sticky and gooey BBQ sauces. Delicious!
Around 11 per cent of our kitchen bin is filled with takeaway food. Takeaway meals are often the result of failing to plan for the week, but big servings may mean you can’t even finish a treat that’s been factored into your weekly meal plans.
Trust us when we say you can revive old takeaway; you can make leftover pizza crust crispy again! But don’t use the microwave. Instead put your soggy slices in a pan for 4-5 minutes with the lid on – and your toppings will be hot too!
Here are some other fun things you can do with food scraps:
- Onion peels add a hearty kick to soups and homemade broths.
- Add green vegetable stems to your smoothies for added fibre.
- Stick green onion ends into a pot of soil (or a cup of water) and watch more grow.
- Make cheese from leftover milk. It can be hard to finish two litres of milk before it expires. Don’t wait for it to curdle, set some aside and make cottage cheese.
- Reuse your coffee grounds around seedlings and doorways to keep ants away. They can also get rid of odours and stimulate your potted plants.
- The same can be said for citrus peels. Rub orange peel directly onto your skin to deter mosquitoes, or dry and blend with water then dilute for a spray that will keep ants away. Dried peels can also get rid of musty smells.
- Overripe bananas make great banana bread. The same can be said for other bruised fruit. Muffins anyone?
- Forget store-bought breadcrumbs. Pop dry stale bread in the blender and store in a jar — super easy. So are croutons — chop up stale bread, sauté it with oil and garlic or spices and scatter on salads or soup.
#HisenseHack: Learn how to revive vegetables. For example, there is a way to put the crunch back into celery. Put limp stalks in a bowl of cold water with a few slices of raw potato. After an hour or so in this starchy bath, the stalks may rediscover their crunch. Stop celery browning before it starts by soaking stalks for 30 minutes in 4 cups of cold water mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice before storing in the fridge — a trick that will also crisp celery just before it’s served.
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