How to reduce your food waste

Planning your meals and preparing a shopping list can help you save time and money and help to prevent food waste. Food planning can also help improve nutrition, reduce the stress of planning 'what's for dinner' and make your trip to the grocery store much quicker and easier.

Start with a food stocktake

Check your fridge, freezer and pantry cupboards regularly to take stock of the food you already have at home, before you head out to shop. This way you won't buy double-ups and end up throwing food away because you haven't used it and now it is past its 'best before' or 'use-by' date.

Write a meal plan

By planning meals, you can avoid impulse buys and know exactly what you need to purchase - saving money, time and excess food. Turn leftovers into tasty dishes.

Plan for portions

Portion planning can help reduce wasted food and ensure a varied, healthy and balanced diet.  Portion sizes vary between men and women and age groups. As a guide, the Australian Government's Eat for Health website recommends the following standard portion sizes for one person for one meal:

  • 75g of vegetables
  • 150g of fruit
  • 75g of cooked rice or pasta
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 65g of cooked lean red meat, 80g of cooked lean poultry or 100g of cooked fish
  • 150g of cooked beans or tofu
  • 30g of nuts
  • 1 cup of milk, 2 slices of cheese or 200g of yoghurt

Make a shopping list

To avoid buying excess food, not buy items you don't need and save money - write down the items you need with the quantities in a list.

  • check the 'best before' or 'use by' dates and only buy ingredients that you can use in time
  • avoid food shopping when you are feeling hungry - you'll buy less and save money
  • avoid impulse food purchases by doing your grocery shopping online with your shopping list
  • think before you buy 'two-for-one' specials - do you really need two? A deal is only good value if you can use the food
  • buying in bulk can be a good option as long as you have the right storage and can use all of the food before it spoils or perishes

Best before and use by dates

The 'use by' date is used for food that needs to be eaten by a certain date due to safety concerns. This is different to the 'best before' date which provides a guide on how long you can expect food to retain its 'quality' attributes including colour, taste and texture. Learn more about the guidelines used for food dates on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

Get the best out of your fridge and freezer

  • Store perishable food and cooked foods in your fridge or freezer.
  • Check the temperature in your fridge is steady - between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius. If not, then check your door seals.

Safe fridge storage

  • Avoid overcrowding in your fridge - air must circulate around food to keep it cool.
  • Store fresh produce, raw meat and cooked foods separately to avoid cross contamination.
  • Avoid leaving food out of your fridge for more than 2 hours.

Use your crisper wisely

Foods behave differently. Generally, foods that 'rot' should be stored in low humidity while foods that 'wilt' should be stored in high humidity. If your crisper drawer has a manual humidity control function, adjust it to suit the type of food you are storing.

Visit Council's Environmental Sustainability web pages to find out more about minimising food waste.