If cleaning out your fridge each week supplies you with a steady diet of frustration and guilt, as well a pain in the hip pocket, then consider this: Australians waste an estimated 4 million tonnes of food annually.
Up to 40 percent of the average kerbside garbage bin is food; that's equivalent to 178 kilos, and over $1000, per person every year in the bin, according to the Foodwise campaign.
As hard as that loss is for your budget to handle, it's even harder on the environment; consider the water and energy required to grow food, and the fuel used to transport it. Then when food rots in landfill it gives off a greenhouse gas called methane, which is 25 times more potent than the carbon pollution that comes out of your car exhaust.
But you can stop the flow from fridge to trash by simply buying things that you'll eat and enjoying them before they spoil. These tips will help you to save money, cut back on how much you toss and curb the 5 o'clock "what's for dinner?" panic.
Strategize before you shop
Planning doesn't have to be a rigid, complicated task; if a magnetic notebook stuck to your fridge works, have it. If you want to plot your dinners with a meal planner, then go for it. For a more casual approach, look at your upcoming week and subtract any nights you won't be home for dinner then figure out when you'll eat leftovers or grab take-away meals. For the remaining nights, jot down recipes or simply plan the protein component for each meal before you shop. Shopping online for your groceries can help you to avoid impulse buys and keep an eye on how much you're spending.
Organise your fridge
To keep your refrigerator from becoming the graveyard where celery goes to die, keep stock of what's on the shelves. When you buy new groceries, borrow a trick from the supermarkets and rotate older items to the front; if you see them, you're more likely to use them. As items near their use-by date, move them to a "use it up" shelf, so you remember what needs to be eaten soon.
Shop at a local farmers' markets
As cook and television presenter Maggie Beer says: "think local and think seasonal" when shopping. Using local farmer's markets is one of the best ways to not only ensure low food miles, but also fresher food options.
Or grow your own!
Having a vegetable patch within a few metres of the kitchen certainly leaves a very small footprint. Not only does it mean your family will be eating some of the freshest produce available, it also allows the opportunity to recycle food scraps to a worm farm in order to use their manure in compost.
Put the season in a jar
Preserving in times of plenty is one of the most effective guards against waste. Knowing how to make jams, sauces, chutneys and pickles means you'll never throw out veggies again – or your hard-earned cash!
For more information about where to park your extra money, compare savings accounts and then watch your money grow!