How often do you pour out curdled milk or abandoning mouldy bread? Is your fridge’s crisper drawer a place that harbours only decay and rotting kale?  While we’re not in the habit of judging, this all makes you part of Australia’s really, really bad culture of wasting food – plus, it’s costing you a mint.
Food rescue charity OzHarvest estimates that Australia wastes $20bn of perfectly good food a year, a combination of rotting groceries and aesthetic-driven food standards – say, for example, an ‘over-curved’ and therefore apparently unsellable banana.
It’s frustrating, especially given that as a country we’re producing enough food a year for 60 million people yet there are still 2 million people on some form of food relief.
5 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Own Food Waste & Feel Like Captain Planet
And while I’m not keen on the ‘blame millennials’ game, we’re really pulling more than our weight here – last year’s RaboDirect study found 1 in 4 millennials admitted to binning up to 20% of their weekly shop.
With both your wallet and our environment in mind, I asked Fiona Nearn of OzHarvest for her tips to end food waste.
“If you start off with good [food] habits, you’ll keep them for the rest of your life,” says Fiona. “And since millennials are the ones who need to care about the planet as they’re the one’s who’ll be here. Change really does need to happen at home.”
Let’s get cracking.


The biggest mistake shoppers make is wandering down the aisles with no real idea of what they’re going to cook. That’s how you end up with a basket of buk choy, Nutella and tomatoes with no discernible way to use any of them.
“Just plan your meals: maybe not every day, since you’ll eat out a couple nights a week,” says Fiona. “But plan like three or so meals, then, say, you’ll have leftovers for a night too. Have an idea of what you’re going to cook, and use up what’s in your fridge before you fill it up again.”
It’s really simple, but what this means is DON’T GET TEMPTED BY THE SALES. You didn’t walk in expecting to buy two bunches of kale for $3, so the reality is you probably won’t use them in anything. Definitely not both bunches, at least.
5 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Own Food Waste & Feel Like Captain Planet
When there’s a six-for-one deal going. (Photo:
And you never have need for four limes, no matter if they’re the same price as two.


If you don’t know what you already have, how can you know what you need?
Doubling up on produce or perishables is all-too familiar for most people – you’re pretty sure you have tomatoes, but you don’t want to get home and realise you don’t, so of course you’re going to buy more.
That’s a recipe for a mouldy, mushy surprise in your crisper come next week.
“Just before you go, check what you have in your fridge and on your shelves,” says Fiona. “Write a list, or snap a quick picture or ‘shelfie’.” 
Despite the terrible name, a shelfie is the easiest way to double check what you have/don’t have when you’re in the store. It might look a little weird on your camera roll, though.


If your freezer is a wasteland of spilt frozen peas and one bottle of Grey Goose you’ve been holding onto for a ‘special night’, you really need to re-assess.
“The other part of good fridge management is using your freezer too,” says Fiona. “Check your use-by dates. Bread is the number one thing being wasted in Australia: it’s overproduced, too. Just put it straight in the freezer, and toast slices or leave one out – it’ll defrost in like 30 minutes.”
Plus, if you’re making a sandwich for work, you can make it on frozen bread – by the time you eat it, it will have defrosted.
You shouldn’t throw out pasta when you’ve made too much, either: just give it a rinse with cold water then freeze it for next time.
Generally speaking, just be aware of use-by dates when shopping and plan accordingly. If your sausages are good until Saturday but your steak’s taking a left corner tomorrow, prioritise.
One simple tip is to create a space in your fridge for meat for any at-glance stocktake, as well as preventing anything getting shoved towards the back, becoming increasingly gross as time goes on.


5 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Own Food Waste & Feel Like Captain Planet
The OzHarvest Market. (Photo: OzHarvest)
If you’ve been watching the ABC’s War On Waste, you’ll know that Australia’s fixation on picturesque produce is resulting in perfectly edible food being left off our supermarket shelves.
“Fruit and veg comes in so many shapes and sizes,” says Fiona. “But it still has nutritional value in it.”
OzHarvest estimate anywhere from 20-40% of Australia’s fruit and veg is deemed too ‘ugly’ to be sold thought the winds of change are blowing.
Harris Farm has recently started selling ‘imperfect fruit’ at discounted prices, and in April OzHarvest opened its first pay-what-you-can supermarket in Sydney suburb Kensington, stocked purely from supermarket rejects and surplus. Fiona says the best way to change the status quo is through purchasing power.
“The more we can show supermarkets that size or shape doesn’t matter, they’ll change accordingly,” says Fiona. “They call it a consumer issue at the moment, but we can change that by shopping from imperfect range or going to the shop that sells wonky fruits or by buying from local markets.”


5 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Own Food Waste & Feel Like Captain Planet
Or, you know, shwifty. (Photo: Rick & Morty/Adult Swim)
If bread is the number one wasted food product in Australia, fruit and vegs come in close second. And now that winter has arrived, it’s near a crime to not make the most of your crisper for a heart-warming bowl of soup.
“From limp lettuce to bendy carrots that still taste perfectly good,” says Fiona, “it’s just a matter of getting a bit creative.”
“People’s first instinct is to throw it away, but soups and stews are so easy to make.”
If you see a slightly less fresh piece of fruit and veg, OzHarvest has an A-Z guide to avoiding food waste. Essentially, just have a think before you throw it out.
If these tips seem a little obvious, it’s because they are. Food waste is easily reducible, if we all just do our part.