I don’t know if you have been to the shops lately to buy food but I have, and let me tell you, it is expensive! The cost of food in Australia feels like it is going up and up! So naturally it is time to smarten up and get wise about our food waste.

Every year Australians are throwing out 3 million tonnes of food waste. That is the equivalent of 136kg of waste for each person. What does that mean, well it has been estimated that over 64 per cent of water use is for agriculture. Throwing out a kilogram of beef wastes up to 50,000 litres of water used to produce it, while throwing out a kilo of rice wastes 2385 litres.

That is incredible!

I am not going to be the first to say I know everything about safe keeping of food – I do have a nasty habit of leaving food on the stove top after I have cooked it and then proceed to eat it for the next few days and wondering why I feel sick! Yikes!

One thing that has always confused me is the old USE-BY and BEST BEFORE dates. So here is a quick explanation!

Is it safe to eat?

Use-by: If a food can become unsafe, it must have a use-by date and it can’t be sold after that date. You’ll find use-by dates on perishables such as meat, fish and dairy products. Don’t eat any food that’s past its use-by date, even if it looks and smells OK.

Best-before: Most other foods must use best-before dates, a guide to how long they’ll keep their qualities – unless they last two years or more, in which case they don’t need any date marking. The food should be at peak quality until the date given and still be safe to eat after that date, though its quality may suffer. Some foods, such as bread, can use a ”baked on” or ”baked for” date instead of a best-before date (the baked-for date can’t be more than 12 hours after the bread is baked).

According to FoodWise;

Going beyond the financial cost of food waste, our wasteful habits are simply not sustainable for the environment. When food waste rots in landfill it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than the CO2 pouring out of your car’s exhaust. When we throw away food, we also waste all of the resources, fuel and energy that were used to get that food from the paddock to our plate.

We’ve now reached the point where we are spending $5 billion a year on food that we buy but don’t eat.

So it is time for us to get serious about our foodwaste, so here are some simply steps you can take to be smarter with your food!

  1. Use a shopping list. This way you are sure you know what you need to buy and you don’t make bad decisions while in the shops. Make sure before you leave the house to shop you know what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. No need to have 6 bottles of tomato sauce!
  2. Plan weekly meals. If you have a plan for what meals you will be cooking and eating that week you are able to shop with more precision. If you aren’t the greatest of cooks this is a fantastic idea as you can plan you meals and learn as cook for the week. This will also reduce the amount of times you go to the shops! Make sure you add in your work lunches and you can always make and freeze some snacks such as cupcakes! That way you don’t waste them if you don’t eat them all.
  3. Never do your shopping when you are hungry. Trust me, you will shop badly if you do this! If I shop hungry, I always end up buying something I don’t need! (and inevitably it is something that is unhealthy too!)
  4. This is a tough one – try not to let your children dictate what you to buy! Yes this is hard, and sometimes actually impossible. Make sure you know what you want, and where it is that way you avoid those side trips down the chocolate & chip aisle which usually is a the tantrum spot for kids.
  5. When shopping try to avoid overly packaged food items. Fresh is best and if you have planned smartly with your weekly meal planner than you will know what you want and you know when you will use it by. Your crisper and freezer is your best friend and it is best to use them! If you want a big salad on Friday make sure you store the vegetables you bought on Sunday properly to make sure they last the week. Simple – no more packaging or wasted food!

For more ideas and information on being foodwise check out FOODWISE CAMPAIGN

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