Give a cluck about food waste this year
Every year Kiwis throw away tonnes of food – 122,547 tonnes, in fact, all of which could have been eaten.
That figure doesn’t include what supermarkets or restaurants are throwing away, it is purely what us Kiwis are putting into our rubbish bins at home.
Each household in New Zealand throws away 79kgs worth of edible food every year – that’s like buying 55 size 14 chickens and then chucking them straight into the bin.
It’s clucking crazy!
Not only is it a waste of money and resources, but it is also harming the environment. When we throw away food and it ends up in landfill, it generates greenhouse gases which are a major contributor to climate change.
It’s also astounding that we’re wasting good food when many Kiwis don’t have enough to eat.
That’s why we want you to give a cluck about food waste this year!
When it comes to reducing food waste, every small action adds up.
Making a few small changes to how you shop, store and cook your food can make a huge difference and will reduce how much food you waste, and save you money at the same time.
These are Love Food Hate Waste’s top 10 tips to reduce your food waste:
1. Store your bread in the freezer
Kiwis throw away 20 million loaves of bread every year, mostly because it has gone stale or mouldy. There’s a simple way to fix that – keep your bread in the freezer instead of the pantry and it will stay fresh and mould free.
2. Eat your leftovers
If you’ve made too much, don’t throw away the leftovers. Even if it is just a small amount, it’s worth popping them in the fridge for later. Check out our delicious recipes for turning small amounts of leftovers into a meal.
3. Keep bananas out of the fruit bowl
If bananas are kept in the fruit bowl they ripen faster due to the ethylene gas released by fruits such as apples and pears. Once bananas are ripe they then produce ethylene gas which ripens other fruit. Keep bananas out of the fridge and away from other fruits. If they have gone too brown, pop them into the freezer and then use them for one of these recipes.
4. Store potatoes and onions away from each other
While it may be convenient to store potatoes and onions together, as they both like cool, dark conditions, storing them together will cause them to sprout faster. Keep your potatoes in your pantry and your onions somewhere else.
5. Plan your meals, make a list
By knowing exactly what your family will be eating for the coming meals, you’ll be able to buy only the food you need. Make sure you check your cupboards, fridge, and freezer before you make your meal plan and shopping list so you can use up what you already have.
6. Give a cluck about chicken
Kiwis throw away 3,400 tonnes of poultry every year – and that’s NOT including chicken bones. That’s over $40 million of chicken going to waste. Chicken is often linked to food poisoning, so it is no surprise that at times we are overcautious when it comes to eating it.
Find out everything you need to know about storing, cooking and eating chicken so that the bones will be the only part of the chicken that you throw away.
7. If in doubt, freeze your food
Freezers work like a giant pause button, preserving the quality of food almost indefinitely. If you’re not sure when you are going to eat something, freeze it, then it will be there when you need it.
Think it can’t be frozen? Think again. Almost everything can be successfully frozen, with the exception of vegetables with high water content like lettuce and cucumber.
8. Don’t peel your produce
Peeling vegetables (and many fruits) is a waste of food, time, money, fibre and nutrients. You may not think those few potato skins make a difference, but collectively in New Zealand we throw away 13,658 tonnes of vegetables peelings and 986 tonnes of fruit peelings every year.
You don’t need to peel most of your produce, instead just wash your fruit and vegetables before eating them to remove any dirt. If you do have potato peels, try making these crispy potato skins.
9. Know what dates are important
Knowing the difference between use by and best before dates will help you throw away less food. Food can be safely eaten past a best before date, providing there is no sign of spoiling. On the other hand, food should not be eaten after its use by date, unless it was frozen beforehand.
10. If you can’t eat it, give it to someone who can
Maybe you have leftover birthday cake, a tree brimming with citrus or a bottle of milk you’re not going to use before you go on holiday. Before you biff it, ask if there is someone else who may want it. Could you give the cake to a friend, ask your neighbour if they would like some fruit and take the bottle of milk into the office?
On a wider scale, there are other places that you can donate food. For packaged food, try food banks or the Auckland or Christchurch Community Fridges. For cooked food, look at social networks like Meals for Mums or The Social Pantry.