Australians waste a staggering amount of food every year, but do we really care? RaboDirect’s latest Financial Health Barometer tell us that ignorance is the key driver of food wastage in Australia – and if we reduce this it will not only benefit the environment, but also help you save money and lower your financial stress.
- According to the results, which are laid out in the Food & Farming report , many Australians are unaware of the savings they can make by reducing food wastage, or how easy it is. Key statistics on food wastage in Australia include:
- 80% of survey respondents say farming and food production is important, but 73% know little to nothing about it
- 89% of baby boomers, 76% of Gen X and 73% of Gen Y say farming and food production is highly important to Australia
- Most consumers don’t know that it takes, on average, 1000 litres of water to bring one meal of food to the table
- New South Wales residents spend about $159 a week on food – almost 20% more than Tasmanians
- The more a household spends on food, the higher the wastage
- Consumers living in state capitals generally waste more
- Gen Y is the most wasteful generation, with more than one in four saying they waste more than 20% of what they spend. They’re also less appreciative of the impact of food wastage
- Men care less about food wastage than women
- Reducing food wastage is key to feeling less financially stressed
Australians love food to excess, wasting $10 billion of it each year, about $21 per household each week. And with the state of our finances, we are putting more than just leftovers in the trash.
Think about it this way: saving that $21 every week could mean a decent holiday in three years, dining out once a month, or $20,000 in the bank for your kid’s education in 18 years.
Reducing your food waste
The first step to reducing waste is knowing what you spend versus what you actually consume. You can do this by keeping a food diary and tracking what you consume and throw away.
Understand the reasons behind your wastage. Is it because you can’t find a use for certain food? Do you simply forget about it? Do you buy too much of it? Do you throw away your leftovers?
These tips can see you reduce food wastage, helping the environment and your financial bottom line.
1. Plan your weekly shop in advance
Allocate a weekly budget for groceries and plan your meals in advance so you buy only what you need. Use a budgeting or money management app to track your spending, or visit ASIC’s MoneySmart website for useful tools and tips on managing money.
2. Eat your leftovers
Have the previous night’s leftovers for lunch, or make one meal a week using leftover ingredients.
3. Find a use for old produce
Use leftover meat to make stocks and stews, and slightly wilted vegetables in smoothies. You can also turn overripe fruit into juices, loaves and crumbles.
4. Create a space for soon-to-expire items
Designate a space in your fridge for foods about to expire. That way you have a visual reminder every time you open the fridge.
5. Preserve or turn leftovers into compost
Pickling and canning are great ways to make food last longer. But if all else fails, turning your leftover food into compost can ensure you never waste another fruit or vegetable again.
6. Treat date marks as guidelines
If stored properly, many foods may still be safe to eat past their use-by dates. Just check the quality of your food first before throwing it out.
7. Don’t over-serve food
Resist the urge to over-serve your guests if you're entertaining at home and you’ll cut back on wastage. A good tip is to use smaller plates.
8. Donate to a food bank
Donate the foods you know you won’t use to a food bank or a charity. A few in Australia include Foodbank, SecondBite and OzHarvest.
9. Rotate your fridge
Load new food into the back of the fridge so older items are at the front. This way your food will spend less time in the fridge and there’s less likelihood of older items going bad.
10. Don’t bulk buy
Bulk buying from wholesalers is a great way to save money – but only if you have plenty of freezer and pantry space, or lots of mouths to feed. Also, avoid buying bulk quantities of certain foods such as brown rice, nuts, olive oil and spices.
By playing it smart with food, you'll not only help the environment, but also improve your personal health and financial wellbeing in the long run.