We all waste food – often without intending to!
To avoid wasting food it is important to understand the dates on the food labels:
- “Best-before” date
Food is still safe to eat after this date, as long as it has been stored correctly and is not damaged, deteriorated or perished. The ‘best-before’ date simply tells you when food is at it’s optimum.
- “Use-by” date
Don’t eat food after its ‘use-by’ date. It may contain bacteria and be unsafe to eat, even if it looks fine. Food must be eaten or disposed of by the ‘use-by’ date – compost or worm farm any food you’re not going to eat where possible.
- “Display until” or “sell-by” date
These are provided for retailers rather than shoppers, to help with stock control. Look for the ‘Use-by’ and ‘Best-before’ dates which often appear near the other date labels.
Keep a stock of staple dry foods such as pasta and rice so you can always rustle up meals out of leftovers and food that’s gone past it’s best. Check your cupboards and fridge before cooking to spot foods that need to be eaten up.
Before you go to the shops, check your cupboards and fridge to make a shopping list to reduce the risk of buying something you already had. But remember to take your list with you! Smartphones can be used to make lists with their simple note-taking apps that are often already on your phone – some people are much less likely to forget to take their phone!
Incorrect storage is one of the main reasons we waste food. Put new cans and packets of food behind old ones to ensure existing food does not accidentally expire from being out of sight. Keeping your fridge below 5 degree Celsius will help your food stay fresh for longer.
Using your freezer is a great way to make the most of your food, especially if dinner plans change at the last minute. Label and date individual portions in airtight containers, because frozen food will not last forever – this guide from the US Government will help you decide how long frozen portions can be kept.
Correct portion sizes are crucial to cutting food waste – we often serve too much food because we want to make sure everyone will have enough to eat, but end up wasting food – or overeating!
The NSW Government “Love Food, Hate Waste” website has an easy way to get your portions sizes right – their Serving Size Calculator will tell you the weight of food required from dozens of food types to feed the number of adults and children you are cooking for.