Love Food Hate Waste at Home

To help you get the most out of your food budget and cut down any food waste this holiday season, we have some tips to share.

Meal planning and shopping list

Planning how much food you actually require can be a big help in avoiding buying more than you need – which saves money as well as reduces food waste.

Meal planning is especially useful when it’s for an event where you’re cooking for more people than usual, such as birthdays or Christmas.

  • When making a meal plan, start with what you already have in the cupboards. Old bread in the freezer? Turn it into breadcrumbs for chicken stuffing or bliss balls (see the recipe below).
  • Once you have your Christmas and New Year meals planned, write a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Beware of bulk-buy deals – they may look good but if you don’t use all of it then it’s a waste of food and money. Buy in bulk only those items that you know you’ll use such as pantry essentials (flour, rice, etc), or that have a long shelf-life (tinned food).

New Zealand has a food waste problem

Every year, New Zealand households throw away 157,389 tonnes of food – enough to feed the population of Dunedin for nearly three years. That is equivalent to 271 jumbo jets of food, worth about $1.17 billion each year.

Portion size

Knowing how much food to prepare, especially if you’re inviting guests, can be difficult. How much a person eats can vary, so here’s a handy guide:

  • Protein (meat) should be the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.
  • Carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, rice etc) should be equivalent to the size of your clenched fist.
  • Vegetables and salad should equal two cupped hands.
  • Fats (cheese, dressing etc) should be the size of your thumb.


Try to reduce the amount of leftovers by cooking only as much as you need to eat – but sometimes, such as at Christmas, leftover food is hard to avoid. That’s when your creativity can kick in.

  • Use leftovers as fillings for pies, toasties or savoury/vegetable bread puddings.
  • Mix leftovers with eggs for a frittata.
  • Pad-out leftovers with pasta, rice, beans or salad.
  • Soups are great for using vegetable leftovers.
  • Crumbles and smoothies can use up all sorts of leftover fruit.

Ensure leftovers are covered or in a sealed container before they go in the fridge, and don’t reheat them more than once.

If you’ve still got more leftovers than you can get through, pop them in your green food scraps bin or compost bin.

Another option is to get in touch with a food rescue charity such as On The House, which distributes quality surplus food to those in need.

Fridge and freezer

Using your fridge and freezer well can extend the life of your food (both fresh and leftovers).

  • Up to 70% of our fridges are too warm, meaning food won’t last as long as it could. Keep your fridge below 5⁰C.
  • Get leftovers into the fridge within two hours of the food being dished up, and eat them within two days from the fridge or two months from the freezer.
  • You can freeze a wide range of food, including bread, bananas, grated cheese, eggs (with yolks and whites separated first), milk, cake (sliced) and general leftovers.
  • Always defrost leftovers completely, in either the fridge or the microwave, before using them. Cook the food within 24 hours of defrosting and do not re-freeze them.

Want more tips?

Check out Love Food Hate Waste which has great information on meal planning, recipes for leftovers, and more.

Love Food Hate Waste New Zealand logo.      Zero Waste Taranaki logo.