According to a study by Foodwise, Australian consumers waste 20% of the food they buy – that’s akin to throwing away one in every five bags of groceries.
So why is this happening?
It may be largely due to the fact that leftovers aren’t very exciting. In fact they’ve got a pretty bad rap. They’re not as appealing as freshly cooked food and they never seem to go together.
We’ve all got those questionable containers sitting at the back of our fridges that we try to ignore. They’re basically waste before they’re even plopped into their container. It’s why the average Australian household ends up throwing away $1,036 of food each year.
But we’ve got it all wrong. Leftovers don’t have to be boring, we just need to change the way we think about them.
Not only are they wallet friendly, they’re environment friendly too. All of that rotting food gives off a greenhouse gas called methane, a gas that’s 25 times more potent than the carbon pollution that comes out of your car!
So if you’re interested in wasting less and saving more than a thousand dollars a year on your groceries, read on to see how you can make friends with your leftovers.
Change your mindset
The first and most important step is to change the way you think about leftovers. Try to imagine them as ingredients instead. This will help you think more creatively about how you can start combining things to make a new dish because you’re treating your leftovers just like any other item in the fridge.
Plan, plan, plan
Planning is key to making good use of your leftovers. When you’re preparing for your weekly food shop, think about what you can transform your leftovers into. For example cooked veggies can become soup, mashed potatoes can go on the top of a cottage pie, and pasta can turn into a pasta salad or bake. Picking a theme for the week such as Mexican or Asian can be helpful too as you’ll utilise the same core ingredients for each dish. Woolworth’s leftovers to makeovers has some great suggestions on how to transform last night’s meal into something completely different.
Get smart about storage
Store good in glass or plastic containers at the front of your fridge so they’re visible – this makes them much harder to forget and you’ll use them up quicker. Use freezer bags for any items you want to freeze and make sure to label them with the freeze date and contents.
Make leftovers night happen
Lots of household have an ‘easy tea’ night. This could easily be turned into a leftovers night. Your cue comes when the fridge starts to fill up – it’s a perfect excuse to eat up extra food and make some much-needed room in your fridge.
Eat your dinner for lunch
This is an old stand by for savvy cookers that cuts down on your kitchen time too. Make double the amount of food for the night and you’ve got lunch sorted for the next day.
Turn veggie scraps into stock
Rather than throw them away, pop them into a freezer bag as you go. Items you would traditionally throw away like carrot and zucchini tops, ends of onions and produce past its prime can all go in the bag. To turn your scraps into stock, simply bring the contents to a boil and simmer for two hours and you’ve got yourself a delicious homemade stock.
Portion off and freeze items you know you won’t get through right away like bread, meat, cheese and tortillas, that way you won’t risk any of these staple items going to waste. If you’re freezing leftover meals, make sure to cool food completely before storing in the freezer; the same goes for any items you’re placing in the fridge too.
More information on leftovers
With just a little bit of planning and creativity, you can master your leftovers. It’s a satisfying way to save without cutting corners; you just need to use what you have already.
If you’re finding it hard to save right now and you’re falling behind on your finances, talk to us today. We’ve helped thousands of Australians get back on track and we can help you too. Call 1300 368 322 now or simply fill out the contact form below.