Australian households are overspending on groceries and it’s costing them around a $1000 a year in food waste. We look at how to break the habit.
I often eat my kids leftovers out of food-waste guilt, but when that doesn’t happen I bin the scraps and walk away to shun the evidence.
Food waste is a massive $8.9 billion problem in Australia and if we break that down, women are binning over $854 worth of food each, every year compared to $927 for men.
The figures come from the latest Rabobank Food Waste Report, which shows that while Australia’s food waste problem is the 4th worst in the world per capita, it is at least a $700 million improvement on 2017.
Like most women, I do feel guilty by my own food waste and use the bin as an out of sight, out of mind remedy. Indeed the report found that 41 per cent of women and 33 per cent of men are also annoyed by their own actions.
That irritation also applies to watching others, with the survey showing that another 41 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men are bugged by wasteful others.
Interestingly though, 25 per cent of women and 19 per cent of men don’t lose sleep on how that food waste affects the environment through excess packaging.
The report, which is based on a survey of over 2,300 Australians, also found that 41 per cent of people with kids at home blamed their food waste on their children not eating what they had prepared for them.
Now this I can really relate to, but is it really the fault of children when we are cooking the meals? This is a constant battle in my house with three kids, but arguably it’s also one that I could be doing more to control.
Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce food waste, particularly when you have kids.
- Eat leftovers and encourage your kids to do this as well.
- Freeze food from left over meals.
- Plan meals in advance. This could even be something you do with the kids by asking them what they like, you’ll make sure it gets eaten.
- Actually eating most of what is in the fridge, including the fruit bowl, before doing another shop.
- Referring to a list during your next food shop.
- Not shopping when you are hungry, and ideally not shopping when all the kids are hungry too!
- Use a food compost and a food scraps caddy in the kitchen.
- Plant a herb or vegetable garden. You are less likely to waste the precious food you grow.
- Think about portion sizes, particularly when it comes to feeding kids. Consider, are they hungry, or just wanting to pick?
- Avoid over ordering when using food delivery services
Those people living in the city were found to be far worse at food wastage than those living in regional areas, where the actual source of the food was likely to be closer.
Convenience seems to be an issue here. For example, people who do at least 20 per cent of their grocery shopping online waste 19 per cent of the food they buy.
It seems that those under 36, the millennials, are repeat offenders when it comes to food waste and practicing bad habits. Gen Z and Gen Y are still the biggest dollar value wasters.
While the research found there was a small difference between city dwellers (13 per cent) and their rural counterparts (11 per cent) waste levels, rivalry between states and territories continues.
Queenslanders were the only state whose food waste behaviour has regressed, with the research revealing they wasted an extra $43 a year on year.
Per capita percentage, West Australians and people in New South Wales were the worst culprits wasting 12 per cent of their grocery shop, while people in the Northern Territory and Tasmania were the least wasteful only throwing away 9 per cent of their shop.
Victorians made the biggest improvement, reducing their food waste year on year by 5.5 per cent, totalling almost $300 a year per household
The report also found that on demand food delivery services were found to be closely linked to food wastage. Those using these services were found to be wasting 15.2 per cent of their food compared to 8.4 per cent among those who don’t use them.
This article first appeared in Financy.