Food Waste Part 1

10 May 2018
Food waste is full of startling statistics as I shared in a previous post. Sometimes statistics don't tell the whole picture, sometimes they can be overwhelming and leave us feeling a little helpless. There are many parts of the food production cycle that we can't impact on directly. However, there are many things that we can do at a household level.

Reducing food waste is something that we do around these parts pretty regularly. The reality is that there will be some food waste - even if it's just the inedible bits of food. So, we are all about aiming for less waste not necessarily no waste.

Over a series of posts I'd like to dig a little into food waste - where it happens in the household and what we can do about reducing it. I'll also dedicate a post to utilising any food waste that we do have so that it is turned into a resource rather than a waste (shout out to Chris from Gully Grove for highlighting this very important point on my last post on food waste).

I thought I'd break this series down into three main areas:
  • Reduce - what steps can we take to create less waste?
  • Reuse - if food needs to be used up or repurposed what can we do with it?
  • Recycle - how can we turn food waste into a resource?
Lettuce and coriander (gratuitous garden pic)

It can be good to get a picture of what's going on in your own household so I'd challenge you to do a little food waste awareness audit. Over the next week take notice of what food is being wasted and why. You may even want to keep a little list (or maybe that's just the Type As among us that like the lists??). Knowing what is going on will make it a lot easier to target any changes to be specific for your household.

Over this series of posts I'll share ideas about what works for my household and tips that I've come across. There is no one way or one 'right' way. Do what works for your household. Try a few strategies and adopt the ones that work for your lifestyle and most importantly your values.

I'll also link to some other blogs and resources that I have found useful. So, if you have any good resources or links to share feel free to add them in the comments of this or any post in the series - the more contributions the better.

Tomatillo plant and fruits (gratuitous garden pic)

Food waste is a waste of more than just food. It's a waste of all the resources and time that went into producing that food. It's a waste of our time going and getting it and then having to replace it. It's clearly a waste of money. When we throw food waste in the bin we waste the potential resource that could be created if we recycled it in some way. And that's just at the individual level.

So, take some time to get aware of what's going on in regards to food waste in your neck of the woods. If you do pretty good in this area please follow along and add tips and tricks to the relevant part of the series to help others along.

Shall we declare a war on waste...oh, that's already been done so we better not get into any copyright disputes. See you on the next post.

Food waste series

Intro: Part 1
Reduce: Part 2
Reuse: Part 3
Recycle: Part 4
Food waste: the Australian picture


  1. Laura, we have a small bin in the kitchen where the peels etc. go and then it gets put onto the compost heap when it is full. No food waste goes onto our garbage bin but we have 1/2 acre and have a number of huge compost heaps so that may not work for people living in a unit with no backyard.

    1. Definitely a little easier when you've got the space to use up the compost - I've got a few strategies/ideas to share in part 4 which I hope will help out those without garden space of their own.

  2. I also have a compost bin for kitchen waste. Paper, cans and extra glass bottles go to the recycling bin. I mainly buy second hand stuff if I need something. Upcycling is one of my hobbies. :)

  3. This is a topic our household has been actively addressing for some time. A couple of things we do are:
    My husband takes left overs for his work lunch every day. I purposely cook to ensure we have them.
    If there are any leftovers left over after hubbies lunch, I have been known to more than occasionally have them for breakfast. Reheated lamb chop and veggies for breakfast, anyone? Why not?
    Stale bread and the end crusts of bread are stored in a bag in the freezer. Once the bag is full, I wizz them up in the food processor for fresh breadcrumbs.
    Excess lemons or grapefruit are juiced and frozen in ice cube trays for year round lemon juice. I also zest a lot of the lemon rind and store in the freezer for baking and cooking.
    Any left over lemon peels are packed into a large glass jar of vinegar and soaked for three weeks, then strained off. The resulting citrus vinegar goes into my homemade cleaning products.
    Veggies which are nearing the end of their shelf life can always be turned into soups if they are looking a little sad.
    The brine from jars of capers, gherkins or pickles are often used as a base for homemade salad dressings.
    Bags of flour, nuts and seeds are stored in the freezer to prevent them from going rancid and needing to be thrown away before they are finished.
    Almost all bones are saved in the freezer then turned into stock. I even save the cooking water from my corned beef in the freezer and use as beef stock. It also makes a delicious base for French onion soup.
    Veggie scraps are composted and then eventually make their way back into my veggie garden.
    There is always something that is overlooked from time to time. Something that got pushed to the back of the fridge and is a little limp or unappealing. For those things, provided it is not mouldy or rotting, well our backyard chickens enjoy those, and reward us with delicious free range eggs.
    I try to have a quick tidy up/review of my fridge contents once a week just before I do my next grocery shop. I quite often can squeeze another meal from the remaining contents before needing to start on the current week’s groceries.
    We’re not perfect though. Sometimes things can just get away from you. So long as your giving things your best shot, do waste any time beating yourself up when you feel like you’ve slipped up. Making an effort in the first place is the most important thing and can lead to important changes.

    1. Great strategies Melanie - I'll add many of these to the upcoming posts. I think you emphasise a really important point - give it your best shot and don't beat yourself up if things don't go to plan.

  4. Our veg and much of our fruit peelings are either composted or go into our worm farm, either way they are made into a fantastic resource for the garden. Our meat scraps go to our dog who thinks all his Christmases have come at once when that happens:) Meg

    1. Yes, turning any waste into a resource is definitely an important part of the cycle.

  5. It's great to read your post, and the subsequent comments. Because whatever we're doing, we're taking more responsibility for completing the food cycle. Like others have commented already, our chickens get a lot of food scraps. Which they turn into eggs. Then there's the hole in (or on) the ground, composting system. Whereby a fruiting plant is put on top, once it's filled. We then get a food crop (several years later) from that investment of food scraps.

    We also dump our cooking water, out the back door for the brush turkeys to pick through. Their regular visits fertilise our backyard for us. If I was living in town, I would still do this, and let the skinks pick through the remnants and maybe eat a baby snail or two, while they're at it.

    We value-add, certain fruit peelings (apple and pineapple) to make vinegar. So we get a second product from the skins, after eating the fruit. And I also like to plant the seeds, to see if I can get another free crop, from my original purchase. I've gotten a myriad of pineapple plants and several avocado trees, from doing this. Also pumpkins, squash and even an apple tree! Unfortunately, it doesn't get cold enough here, to make it fruit. But we still get the annual leaf drop to feed the soil. What I want to set up next, is a worm farm.

    I didn't have a plan to do all these things, at once. I might have become overwhelmed, otherwise. It developed over the years instead, as I became fascinated with living systems. I enjoyed seeing the productivity that emerged, from taking responsibility for our family food waste. It was way more fun, than just putting food in the bin.

  6. This is definitely it Chris for me - taking more responsibility. Even when things aren't perfect. And yes, definitely doing things in small steps which do end up naturally building on each other.


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