Confessions of a food-waste hoarder

I hate to waste food but, inevitably, it happens. Despite meal planning like a pro, things don’t always work out as planned.

I know I am not alone in this. In New Zealand, where I live, the average family wastes around $563 worth of food every year. In the United States, for a family of four, its around $1600 worth of food each year. It’s pretty shocking.

Food waste, food waste friday
New Zealand’s Food Waste.
Image credit: WasteMINZ

I feel terrible about throwing away what was perfectly good food. And so I don’t – I hoard it. Half empty bottles of salad dressing languish at the back of my fridge until they are a year out of date. A little container of unused canned tomatoes sits growing mold. You get the picture – it’s not pretty. Eventually something smells and I can’t ignore it anymore, and out it all goes.

Well that was until now. I am owning-up to my food waste. I’m starting out with a clean fridge and a new approach. As part of Food Waste Friday, I will report in each fortnight on my food waste.

Food waste, Food Waste Friday
Inside my fridge – 19 June 2015

Am I the only person who hoards their food waste? What’s your best tip to reduce the amount of food you waste?

0 Replies to “Confessions of a food-waste hoarder”

  1. Great food for thought. My partner shopped last week and has been away, he cooks different meals to me so he buys different foods. I went in yesterday and tried to cook up what was left but unfortunately there were vegetables, herbs and salad that I couldn’t use (floppy). We have managed to reduce our waste in regards to packaging and what we buy but I do need to take on the food waste issue. Tomorrow I am shopping, I’ll be thinking of this. When we lived in Holland we had a really small fridge. It was really good it meant we shopped locally at the green grocer and butcher every day or second day for dinner and it worked really well.

    1. That’s a great point you raise Fran. I think our large fridges are part of the problem. We can store more than we eat and because we have so much room we don’t need to plan our purchases carefully.

    1. Yeah it’s a great poster. I had a quick look for something similar from the USA. I couldn’t find anything that put the facts about household food waste out there quite so effectively. FoodShift ( seemed to have the most accessible, consumer-focused information that I could find.

      1. Thanks for using our poster Amy. A lot of time and effort went into it so I have passed on your comments to the team of volunteers who created it. We love the sound of your foodwaste friday challenge so will share your blog posting on our Love Food Hate Waste facebook with your permission.


        Jenny from Love Food Hate Waste NZ

        1. Hi Jenny, what great volunteers you have. I am a keen follower of the Love Food Hate Waste Facebook page and would be delighted for you to share my blog posting. Thanks.

  2. Greeting from the UK. I did that obligatory fridge clean the other week. The only way I find I can avoid the issue is only buying stuff like salad on the day I’m going to eat it. Otherwise life happens, my husband changes his mind on what he wants to eat, and it gets wasted!

    1. Salad is one of my trickiest items too. It’s definitely more soup than salad weather here at the moment so that is in my favour at least.

  3. I think the best way to reduce the amount of food wasted is simply to have a more organized fridge where everything is as visible as possible. When the fridge gets disorganized, it’s so easy to end up buying multiples of things simply because you aren’t aware of what you already have.

    Also, it can be helpful to set aside a time each week to go through the fridge and see which items are about to expire. You can even put a post it on there as a reminder. This will give you a chance plan meals incorporating those items before they expire so that they don’t end up getting wasted.

    Hope this helps 🙂


    1. Thanks Lauren, great tips. “Out of sight, out of mind” is definitely a contributor to my food waste – so I will take these tips on board. I just discovered your article “Are you a ‘Disorganized Perfectionist’?” – yep that is me! It helped me understand why the Minimalist Game is working so well for me as an approach to decluttering. Small changes rather than all or nothing.

  4. I’ve been doing the Food Waste Friday on and off for about a year. For a while, Eli and I lived in a tiny student apartment with a tiny bar fridge, and we had hardly any food waste – except the stuff that got frozen from being too close to the ice part!

  5. Nice idea Amy! I have a designated space in my fridge for all the leftover bits and bobs in containers – that way they never make it to the back of the fridge and it’s easy to see what needs to be used up. My happiest days are those when my lunch isn’t dictated by what needs to be used up and I can have what I want for lunch! Good luck with Food Waste Friday – I’ll be interested to see how you go!

    1. Hi Polly, I like your thinking about a designated space for leftover bits in the fridge. I’ve actually been trying that this week. I have been putting stuff I need to use up quickly on the most prominent shelf and it has really helped me to not forget about the random stuff.

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