22/06/2017 13:08 BST | Updated 22/06/2017 13:13 BST

Six Easy Ways To Reduce Food Waste

If you throw out one burger, the water waste is equivalent to a 90 minute shower.

That could have been tomorrow's lunch.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you think you don't waste much food, you might want to think again. As Australians, we actually discard a whopping 20 percent of what we purchase.

That's like bringing home five shopping bags of food and then immediately chucking one of those bags in the bin. One in five.

Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways you can manage your food waste output, and it doesn't mean you have to hoard carrot peelings in your freezer for a stock you know you're never going to make. (Though reusing your scraps is actually a really awesome thing to do if you're handy in the kitchen.)

Keen to know more? Here are our top tips.

How to reduce your food waste in 6 easy steps

1. Check what's in your fridge before you shop

No one actually goes about wasting food on purpose, it's more that we don't realise we're doing it until it's too late.

"So many people waste food because they don't check their fridge to see what they already have before they go shopping,"Annika Stott, sustainability strategist at OzHarvest tells HuffPost Australia.

"Then once they arrive back home, they realise they've doubled up on ingredients."

asiseeit via Getty Images
Shop smart, not big.

2. Buy only what you need

Supermarket specials can be tempting, but write a list to make sure you don't veer off course. Also avoid the temptation to fill your fridge to bursting point 'just in case' you need something.

"The fridge actually has a lot to answer for because there's this mentality to 'stock the fridge'," Stott says. "But often we don't actually get around to using what we buy.

"That goes for avoiding supermarket specials, too. So much of food waste comes down to simply buying too much in the supermarket to begin with."

If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

3. Plan ahead

If you're not sure who is going to be home during the week, don't cater as if they will be.

"Being aware of what you have and what you need, and who is home for dinner and what's happening this week is really beneficial when it comes to figuring out exactly how much food you need to purchase," Stott says.

Anna_Om via Getty Images
Let's just hope she's throwing a massive fruit-and-veg dinner party every night this week. Otherwise, this fridge is way too full.

4. Fall in love with leftovers

Made too much dinner? Take it to work to lunch the next day! This incredibly simple premise is something Stott says Aussies don't do enough of.

"Be happy to take what you had for dinner and have it for lunch," she says. "Or if you're feeling really confident you can try to transform them into entirely new meals."

Don't know where to get started? Check out these recipes.

Globally, we waste 3.7 trillion apples every year.

5. Store your food correctly

Did you know if you store your fruit and veg in the fridge they can last two weeks longer? And don't be afraid to use your freezer, either.

"People in homes can really take advantage of your freezer. It's a really, really great way to save food, because it acts like a pause button," Stott says.

"Any food that's close to expiry can go in the freezer. Then you can cook from the freezer once a week to keep things rotating around."

Leftovers don't have to be just for Christmas-time.

6. Know your expiry labels

It may sound simple enough, but actually a lot of Aussies are misinterpreting the expiry labels found on food.

"People guided by labels often throw away something that is perfectly edible," Stott says.

"For instance, lots of people don't know that 'best before' actually still means you can eat it after."

Use by and best before dates

  • Use by date: Foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons. Foods should not be eaten after the use by date and can't legally be sold after this date because they may pose a health or safety risk.
  • Best before date. You can still eat foods for a while after the best before date as they should be safe but they may have lost some quality. Foods that have a best before date can legally be sold after that date provided the food is fit for human consumption.

Source: Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.

Still not convinced?

"Wasting food wastes everything," Stott says. "Labour, land, water, money.. not to mention the love that goes into producing that food, and it doesn't even get eaten.

Stats that you might find difficult to swallow

  • If you threw away a burger, it would waste the same amount of water as a 90 minute shower.
  • If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses.
  • Eight percent of greenhouse gasses are caused by food waste -- so yes, there is a correlation with climate change.
  • The Australian government estimates food waste costs the country $20 billion a year.
  • The average family in NSW wastes $3800 worth of food every year.
  • Globally, we waste 3.7 trillion apples every year.

Those wanting to find out more about food waste strategies can keep an eye out for the UN and OzHarvest's Think.Eat.Save events, which take place around the country, starting in Sydney on 24 July.

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