An (almost) zero waste home - Food Waste

Many of us were raised to not waste food, but sometimes things slip through the cracks. And what does, adds up. The average family throws away three shopping trolleys full of food every year. 

Just let that sink in.

It’s an obvious waste of money, but also a huge waste of resources and effort that went into growing and producing it all. And then there’s the whole landfill thing. When we throw food away, it gets put in a big hole in the ground and is compacted down – hard. In this weird anaerobic environment, organic waste creates methane which is a crazy powerful greenhouse gas.

So how do we reduce the amount of food we’re wasting? The good news is, some really simple changes can have a big impact.


It may sound obvious, but having a weekly meal plan means you’re way more likely to buy what you need and use it! There’s also the added benefit of avoiding the 5pm “oh, what’s for dinner?” dilemma.

Eating whole:

We often throw away parts of food that could have been eaten. Choosing to eat ‘nose to tail’ or ‘root to shoot’ makes your food go further – think stir frying your broccoli stalks and making stock from your meat bones and vege offcuts.

Know your dates:

Expiry dates on food can be confusing, but if there’s one thing to understand it’s ‘best before’. This date is an indication of quality not safety. Things past the ‘best before’ date should be safe to eat, they just may no longer be at their best.


If you don’t need leftovers the next day, freeze them for an easy meal another day. If things are going to go off before you can eat them, I throw them in the freezer too – most things are ok to freeze. Things like avocados can be chopped up and frozen for smoothies, and I’ll grate excess veges or cook fruit to freeze in ice cube trays.

Left over night:

Friday night is leftover night in our house. It normally involves throwing whatever is left on a pizza. It’s an awesome way to do a sweep of the fridge and ironically it’s the kids’ favourite meal!

Make do:

Instead of starting a meal by asking “what do I feel like?” switch to starting with “what have I got?” I often jump online and search ‘what can I make with…’ and it’s amazing what you can come up with. Challenge yourself to skip a shopping trip and live out of your pantry if you want to get creative!

For more information and ideas about reducing your food waste head to Love food, hate waste

The rest:

There will always be some sort of food waste left to deal with.

If people can’t eat it, the next best thing is to use it to feed any animals you have (assuming it’s ok for them to consume).

After that, the next best thing is to compost it so that it becomes great feed for the soil. Compost binsworm farms and bokashi bins are all great options. For ideas on how to get started check out The Compost Collective, or connect with others via the Share Waste app.

Small changes, big impact.


This is part 3 in our 6-part monthly series by behaviour changer Nic Turner of Mainstream Green.  Stay tuned for the next post where Nic shares easy ways to simplify the products you use in the bathroom.