Monday Motivation #09 – 10 Tips for Avoiding Food Waste and $aving

Waste Not Want Not: On Friday I set the challenge of coming up with your best ‘Scraps Recipe’ [for a prize – which is open until Thursday]. Mine was eating the leftovers from my kids’ dinner – does that count? Or does it mean I should get a dog instead of a cat?

In this first part of the World Environment Day 2013 ‘Think.Eat.Save’ theme we challenge food waste. The only fact about food waste I’m going to repeat here is the first one from the UNEP site;

Roughly one third of the  food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3  billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

How extraordinary! And what an opportunity for us to make a difference! In my own home state of New South Wales, Australia, we toss out some $2.5billion worth of edible food each year. [stats and image from NSW EPA]

For the start of our WED food week here’s a list of easy ways in which we can reduce our food costs [purchasing and waste], carbon emissions and waist lines, and free up some of those resources for others. And here’s the gem: none of this will cost you a cent – in fact most of it will save you money. I’ve used ALL of these, and they ALL work;

  1. Stay hydrated; often when our hunger reflex kicks in our body is often just looking for the water found in carbohydrates;
  2. Eat slower; it takes around 20 minutes for the stomach to bother talking to our brain to say ‘happy now’. Chew. Talk. Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls. I’ve even tried meditating on each mouthful – zone in and pay 100% attention to the food;
  3. Reduce portion sizes; even a 10% reduction on your plate will all add up. Replace it with water;
  4. ‘Use By’ Vs ‘Best Before’; Use By means you can’t eat it after that date. ‘Best Before’ means you can eat after that date [except for eggs] – just use your judgement and your nose;
  5. Don’t shop hungry; going into the supermarket hungry is asking for trouble. Have a snack before you head into the store. Buy something from the bakery that is usually strategically located right outside the supermarket entrance;
  6. Leftovers – take them to work; saves you a bundle each week with just a little organisation;
  7. Donate; if you’re a business with leftover food get in touch with the local food charity. There are a growing number of these around who will come and collect the un-used food from your event/conference/outlet and distribute to the needy. Oz Harvest in Australia is a great example. Great guide on food donation here at NSW EPA;
  8. Freeze it; get the tupperware – you know you love it. On a lazy day you can nuke it and save yourself the cooking;
  9. Get creative; eat your scraps! We often have a few errant veggies that avoided their fate during the week. There is always a way to sort them out in your last meal before grocery shopping. Check out last Friday’s challenge and the prize on offer;
  10. Plan your menu; of everything on this list, I’ve found this one to be the most effective. By planning out your whole week of meals you don’t leave as much room for wastage. In my case we usually end up being short of something rather than have wastage.

Set yourself the challenge this week of not wasting any edible food at all. Chances are you’ll identify a few ways to save some money – the rest is icing.

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