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Are you scraping money into the bin?
By Tammy May

Love food; hate wasteHow much food goes to waste at your house? According to research, Australians throw away about $5.2 billion of food every year or 3 million tonnes. That’s a lot of food and an awful lot of money.

I usually find the reason is poor planning. I’ve either failed to menu plan so the food spoils before I use it or I haven’t stored it properly. (I’m notorious for being in such a hurry that I throw the shopping into the fridge then wonder two days later why a fresh bunch of coriander hiding under a bag of apples suddenly looks like seaweed.)

Just by taking a little extra time when we bring our groceries home we can save hundreds of dollars a year by avoiding waste. Here are some ideas:

  • Herbs (except basil) should be wrapped in a damp paper towel and refrigerated in an airtight container or zip-lock bag—stored this way, herbs will last for weeks. Basil will turn black in the fridge—leave it on the bench in a glass of water.
  • For fruit such as grapes and cherries, wash immediately and refrigerate in an airtight container.
  • Protect your veggies (except mushrooms) from the air by storing them in the crisper in reusable zip-lock bags. Mushrooms fare better in the fridge in a paper bag.
  • Some fruit and veg do better out of the fridge—eg. avocados, tomatoes and bananas need to ripen at room temperature before being refrigerated. Once your bananas have ripened, you can put them in the fridge for up to two weeks. The skin will turn black, but the fruit inside will be fine. Speaking of bananas…
  • Bananas produce a gas that helps fruit to ripen. In a fruit bowl, they make great company for fruit you want to ripen quickly, but they’ll also cause their companions to spoil more quickly. (For over-ripe bananas, here’s a cheap and easy wholemeal banana bread recipe.)
  • Leftovers don’t have to be fed to the dog. Serve them up for lunch the next day or pop them in the freezer for next week.
  • Meal planning is a great way to avoid waste and stick to your food budget. Plan a weekly menu of meals and only buy what you need.
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