10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money


Studies show that Australians throw out around $8 billion worth of edible food each year. This is obviously a very big problem for the environment and our own budgets as well.

“If food waste was a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, more than 30 percent of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing to eight percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Plastic bags, metal cans and the cardboard boxes our food comes in all add up too! For example, if you’re chowing down on a lasagne, can’t get through it and decide to toss the uneaten portion away, half of the emissions that result from it being made, processed, packaged, shipped, stored, picked up and cooked are also wasted. To give you an idea of the enormity of the problem, if food waste was a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. That is a scary thought.

If you’re keen to start in your own backyard, kitchen, garden, home and rubbish bins, here are 10 ways to help reduce food waste that not only save your wallet but contribute to a greener planet:

Do a meal plan for the week. Decide what you’re going to eat on which days and what ingredients you need. I like to meal plan on Sundays for the coming week, but do what works best for you.

Create a shopping list. That way you won’t be enticed to veer off it buying extra items, which might result in more spend and more waste. Less is more!

Purchase fresh, quality organic food where possible and batch cook/prepare. Fresh salad leaves and muesli or yoghurt in a jar are healthy, nutritious and easy to prep and pop in the fridge, grabbing when needed. Soups and slow cooks like curries are also great to batch cook and freeze, reducing wastage.

Buy food in bulk. According to a BulkFoods Study in the US, consumers can save an average of 89 percent on the cost of their grocery shop by purchasing bulk foods like sustainably sourced nuts, seeds, flour, dark chocolate, nutritional yeast flakes, and sea salt which I scoop directly from glass canisters into my own, banishing those pesky plastic bags for good.

Recycle, recycle, recycle. Most Aussies are on top of this, but if you’re not, now is the time to start! Most local councils have good waste services, but you can always go one better by doing your own composting or investing in a worm farm. I am loving composting and its quite addictive once you get going!

Buy straw alternatives. Australians use an estimated 10 million plastic straws a day. I was shocked when I read this. They’re so lightweight but are not biodegradable or recyclable and frequently end up in the ocean in the stomachs of fish, birds and turtles. There are now alternative straws made from stainless steel, bamboo and sustainably grown paper straws which are a better investment.

Invest in beeswax wraps. If you want to kick the single-use disposable habit, beeswax wraps are a great plastic-free alternative. They can be used instead of clingwrap to cover food and keep it fresh, are reusable and can be refreshed is the wax starts to wear. There are lots of options in store.

Compostable bin liners: Plastic bags can take up to one thousand years to decompose in landfills. A better solution is compostable bags, with one brand shown to biodegrade 99 per cent within the first month in a commercial composting facility. If you’re a pet lover, small biodegradable bags are good for doggie pick-ups too.

Reusable mesh fruit and veg produce bags. Instead of packing fruit, vegetables and bulk-food shopping into plastic bags, using a lightweight, mesh, reusable produce bag is much better for the environment.

Water filter. One million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the globe, with our insatiable thirst for bottled water creating a crisis that experts say is as bad as climate change. First things first, ditch the plastic bottles. If you’re concerned about water quality, use a good quality water filter – otherwise just fill up your stainless-steel bottles.

Reusable cups. After plastic bottles, coffee cups are the second-largest contributor to rubbish and they are lined with plastic film, making them difficult to recycle. Since ABC’s War on Waste exposed that we throw one billion disposable cups away each year, sales of re-usable coffee cups have exploded. If you’ve left your reusable cup at home, most
cafes now offer organic coffee in compostable cups, made from plants, not plastic.

About Lee Holmes:

Lee Holmes holds an Advanced Certificate in Food and Nutrition and is a certified holistic health coach (IIN), yoga teacher, wholefoods chef and bestselling author of the Supercharged Food series, which includes Eat Your Way To Good Health; Eat Yourself Beautiful; Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian; Heal Your Gut; Supercharged Food for Kids and Eat Right for Your Shape.