Over 2000 members responded to our food waste survey, and nearly half of them left us with detailed comments and feedback. We heard some strange stuff, from hunt-and-kill your own meat to dumpster diving ‘freegans’, not to mention red-back spiders in the compost!! but there is an absolute gold mine of wonderful information from 1MW’s members.
We can’t publish everyone’s comments, but here are our top selections! This is what our members said about…
- Creating a quick view menu guide makes food planning & shopping easier. It also means we eat better foods and more interesting meals. Finding a good bulk food co-op reduces packaging wastes, supports local economies and makes you more aware of the food cycle.
- I think pre-packaging is a killer – you are forced to buy more than you need. Supermarkets should be encouraged to avoid pre-packaging.
- When shopping – I don’t put fruit and vegetables in individual bags unless absolutely necessary (e.g. grapes). Having loose potatoes or apples in the trolley or conveyor belt may not be as convenient but since starting this practice, there are a LOT less plastic bags in my rubbish bin! For the fruit and veggies that last longer when kept in bags, I just reuse the ones that are already in the crisper.
- I challenge myself to never throw away food. I buy near use by food at supermarkets, cook and freeze the meals for later use. Not only does it stop supermarket waste it saves me money!
- Eat with the seasons, educate your children about where their food comes from, always buy Australian produce & support Aussie farmers! – Charmaine
- I’d like to mention an app called Ethical Shopping. It really enlightened me to what goes on behind the scenes of what you buy. Very simple to use and VERY useful.
- I know my Mum (no judgement on her it’s out of being loveliness!!) tends to want to fill the cupboard and fridge full of food, because she likes to feel like there’s plenty of food for people (my sister and me when we stay and her friends)… we had a conversation about it, and I said it’s much nicer to have good quality food, maybe smaller amounts but food that we will eat and enjoy, instead of going for quantity… I think a lot of parents may do this or just people in general. PS… I’ve talked to friends and they say their Mum does it too, so perhaps something about being aware of this and changing it?
Meal planning –
- Recently we have changed our style to eating food on the day of purchase i.e. meat veg fruit. Cooking and eating less has lead to a joyous trend towards portion control. This trend has given us a greater sense of wellbeing. Go planning! – JLC
- Before I started doing a fortnightly menu I would often buy things just in case and would end up throwing a lot of fruit and veg out at the end of the week. Now that I know what I’m going to cook every day, and only shop for what I need, it’s cheaper and everything gets eaten. It’s also a lot less stressful as there’s no more – what are we going to have for dinner tonight? – Sharon.
- I just can’t emphasise enough how important it is to plan your meals, to write shopping lists and just prepare before you go to the shops. I know I forget often, but when I remember it always helps. I’m trying to take my own advice!
- Menu planning keeps me sane. I can work out how to feed everyone, even when we have very tight schedules. I know when leftovers will be created and plan to use them so they don’t get wasted.
Using what you have –
- I have recently sat down & I have been totally dismayed about the weekly increase in the cost of buying food and what is being wasted and finally started putting into practice that what is in the cupboard is to be used before buying anymore…also the little that I have started to save since starting is going into a special tin for a weekend away or something else that is special!! – Toni D
- When we overfill the pantry you don’t realize you’ve already got that product because you can’t easily assess what’s there. Organizing the pantry would be the key to less food wastage for our family and getting people to check what we’ve already got before they reflexively buy it. It’s a challenge but I think we can consciously improve this!! – JB
- Recently we found there just wasn’t enough money left over to carry us through till our next pay, I was able to get 5 days worth of meals just using the bits n pieces left in our fridge, pantry & freezer. It was a real eye opener. – SBM
- Apart from the obvious benefits to the planet, making efforts to reduce food waste actually makes a huge difference in your actual food bills. Since we started making weekly menus and making our shopping list from them we are saving heaps of money! Occasionally, when we know we have heaps of food/ingredients in the fridge and cupboards, we have a week where we don’t go shopping – and challenge ourselves to be creative with what’s already in the kitchen. A week with NO food bill! And it’s fun! – LR
Leftovers and food waste –
- I believe we would waste much less if we understood why organic, biodynamic foods such as fruit veggies and meat are so important. When you buy these sustainably grown foods and pay a little more, you value it more and so are more vigilant about throwing it out! Feedlot factory farms and soil nutrient depleting mass agriculture are not the answers to ridding our world of starvation. We need to value our earth and food sources more, which will naturally filter down to less food waste and a healthier world! Sounds very simplistic put like this, which it is not, but simple things are often just as important as complicated ones.
- I always divide up all of the evening meals equally onto both dinner plates and storage containers. Then the storage containers either go in freezer or the fridge for the next days work lunches. Nothing is left in the cooking pot and it goes straight to the sink! – MW
- Placement in the fridge is a key factor. Leftovers at the front of the shelf in a bowl or plate ready to heat up will be eaten by hunter/grazers very quickly. Meals pre-prepared or leftover need to be ready-to-serve and they will be eaten. Seems to be too much effort for teen/young adults to have to serve selves up from one or more pots but if its plated ready to go, it goes! Our busy lives work better with big cook-ups on home nights and re-heats on busy nights. We rarely buy take-aways, perhaps 3 times a month.
- I freeze my bread and get it out as I need it, doesn’t take long to defrost (bread goes off to quickly these days and if not frozen ends up wasted). I freeze grated cheese as well, I use it on hot foods so it melts down anyway and doesn’t go off before it’s all used up. If I get an ingredient that is hard to use, I’ll try and research recipes just for that particular ingredient and try and use it up before it goes off. I always use my leftovers for lunch the next day!! When dad over cooks for everyone, each of us kids take some home with us so we know it won’t get wasted!! It’s pretty easy NOT to waste food. – Karissa
- Eat ugly food! Don’t throw something out just because it has a little brown patch on it, or is a little bruised. Most of the food is still just as healthy & delicious, even if it doesn’t look as nice.
- If you don’t have a compost bin you can still put peelings, outside leaves from lettuce, cabbage, etc. eggshells and banana skins directly on your garden. Don’t dispose of meat or fish scraps this way, however! Also, don’t ditch that last bit of milk in a bottle – top it up with water and give it to your plants (especially gardenias) – they love the traces of magnesium and calcium. – JB
- Stopping food waste is so important and can be achieved through 2 simple steps: 1) “Flexible” meal plans- get creative with what you have (including leftovers) and what’s in season 1) “Freeze”- best to do sooner rather than later- Freeze first and think what to do with it later.
- Use same-sized lidded see-through containers for left overs so at a glance you can see what is on hand. When I roast a piece of meat I carve it all up and then leftovers are easier to use. Bones etc are disposed of and therefore takes up less room in fridge…- Judy
- My partner is a chef, and whilst I enjoy the amazing food we eat I quite often find it difficult to explain to him how upset it makes me/annoyed I get when he just throws things away. Kitchens in restaurants etc. can be such wasteful places and this is his every day. I am beginning (slowly) to make him understand the importance of less waste. – Jess
Growing your own/sharing –
- I think that when people grow their own food, they become more conscious of not wasting it. With all the effort that goes into planting and cultivating comes a greater awareness about where food comes from, how to eat more seasonally; it forces you to become more creative about how to use any excess. All of this helps to reduce overall waste in the long run, not to mention that nothing tastes better than homegrown!
- Growing your own food helps reduce food waste, because you know how much time, effort and resources goes into producing it! You become much more aware and treat it like the precious commodity it is. The food I waste tends to be the food that I don’t have any real understanding about how it was produced… Hands on education is the key!
- We grow a lot of our own vegetables and fruit, as well as suply our own eggs and honey, and take part in a monthly Crop & Swap group meeting – this has taught us just how much goes into producing food. A bee must visit 1 million flowers to make one kg of honey; female pumpkin flowers are open for pollination for just one day. The prices in the shops don’t reflect the true value of the food; and I think this leads to people undervaluing it in their homes. Would you throw a diamond ring in the bin? – Melanie
- Sharing with others in your apartment block or neighbourhood. I’m in a small apartment block, with primarily single people and couples, so I bake a cake and share! You make friends, share stories and waste less. – KB
- When my chilli bush has a whopper crop – I take the excess that we will never use to work and offer them to my colleagues for free. Everyone loves something free and I get to find out who in the office are real chilli lovers!
Good food ideas –
- Keeping a list of quick easy to prepare meals which use variable ingredients is a good prompt when feeling too tired for meal preparation or thinking creatively. It helps avoid a fast food purchase and uses up bits and pieces that might otherwise be wasted. Such meals as soups, pasta sauces, stir-fries and vegie pasties are easy to produce with this hint. The list is important. It’s a prompt, no deep thinking required. Our favourite is pasta cooked with roughly chopped veggies [any variety], topped with a can of salmon or tuna, a slurp of a sauce such as chilli or soy, a splash of lemon juice and grated cheese on top. Sprinkle with herbs, nuts and seeds. Quick, yum and healthy! Even quicker, pasta cooked and added to a pan of garlic, almonds and olive oil. Finish off with fresh parsley and lemon juice. Easy. Yummy. We also love rice, bean or pasta salads with a store bought roast chicken added. Just shed the skin if avoiding any fat. There are never leftovers of any of these meals. – KAY
- Sometimes when I am cooking sweet potato, I deliberately cook more, so that I have sweet potato mash which can be the base for any meal, fish can be served on top, grand children love it as a topping for crunchy toast with a slither of fine fried egg served on top, a couple of sliced cherry tomatoes on the side. Yum!! That sweet mash has just been a beautiful addition to some healthy oat raisin & walnut breakfast muffins we had on the weekend!! I never tire of finding wonderful ways to use healthy fresh food. – Robyn
- I have 2 meals I basically do for leftovers being a vegie soup and a meal called pasta meush. Pasta mush is made by cooking onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes and leftover veggies and meat.
- My favourite meals and desserts lately are simple and easy, like a roast vegetable lasagne or an apple and pear crumble – getting back to less expensive, less likely to be wasted, basic ingredients like sugar, butter, flour, milk, eggs, cheese and fruit and vegetables.
- Pitiful, but I used to throw away broccoli/cauliflower stems, celery tops etc. Was told some of the best restaurant soups were made using these! Vegetable soup, and variations, is now a household and economic favourite. Can vary flavour, consistency (smooth or chunky) and add-ins for tasty, and healthy variations.
- We would have ‘bits n pieces’ picnics for those lazy dinners rather that takeaway. They consisted of attractively presented bits from the fridge, cupboard and freezer. The last 2 biscuits in a packet, the remains of the sundried tomatoes, one off fruit and veg, sliced up and arranged. Dips made with the last scoop of cream cheese and lonely shallot. Alone nothing to create a meal, together a great looking picnic. – Jennifer
Thanks a million to everyone who took part in the food waste survey!