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These 15 foods are massively contributing to the food waste crisis

A close up of cereal rings in milk, emphasizing food.

Food waste is a HUGE problem.

It’s a waste of money, valuable sustenance, a burden on our landfills, not to mention it creates harmful methane emissions. It’s a global issue, and on top of all of the negatives, there are really few things more frustrating about adult life than throwing out food that was perfectly good to eat a week ago. Put simply, food waste is foolish, and we should all be doing our part to do less of it.

If you want to be part of the solution and not the problem, be extra diligent when you’re buying these 15 notoriously wasted foods:


Unless you have a family of 6 or are eating it daily, it’s pretty much impossible to get through a whole container of lettuce without being beaten by the dreaded wilt and slime.

Avoid food waste by keeping it cool and dry, using it in more dishes, buy heads over containers and chop it up yourself.


Bread is one of those things that you either have none of when you need it, or you have way too much of it that you can’t finish. And until they start selling it by the slice or in half loaves, it will probably continue to be wasted in droves. Don’t even get us started about the strange quantities that hamburger and hotdog buns come in…

Avoid food waste by freezing what you won’t use in time and pushing the expiry date a bit.

A stack of slices of bread - food waste.

Ground beef

Many people don’t realize just how quickly ground beef needs to be cooked, and although most have the knowledge about the importance of cooking it properly, we are often unprepared for the grey meat greeting that ground beef gives us on day 3 or 4.

Avoid food waste by meal planning and freezing.


It’s another tricky food that lasts for surprisingly less time than other veggies. Tips get soggy in a few days, and the usual snap is replaced by bendy stocks in no time at all.

Avoid food waste by eating it promptly.



Milk is a staple that we always seem to have in the fridge, but often forget when we bought it last. Rather than risking it, we then dump it down the drain if there’s any doubt if it’s still safe to drink.

Avoid food waste by buying smaller quantities, labelling well and using the old sniff test. Often milk is actually fine to drink 2-3 days post the labelled sell by date.


A big bag of potatoes is something we often think is a great deal, buy once in a blue moon, use a few times and then forget about. When we remember that we still have potatoes to use, they’re often soft and sprouting limbs in our pantry.

Avoid food waste by storing them in a cool, dark place and avoid buying a whole big bag unless you’re actually going to use it.

A variety of fruits and vegetables, emphasizing the importance of reducing food waste, are on display at a market.


Green one day, brown the next. Bananas are notorious for taking too long to get to the perfect ripeness, and then once they are perfectly ripe you’re rushing to eat the whole bunch in one or two days.

Avoid food waste by buying them unripe, buying fewer and baking into tasty banana bread once overripe.


Cheese is basically mould, but you’d be surprised at how often it’s thrown out and deemed expired, just because it’s getting a little smelly.

Avoid food waste by buying in smaller quantities or pushing the expiry date a bit.


Rice and Pasta

You would think that rice and pasta are foolproof, but a lot of the waste often comes when it’s time to cook them. We can’t ever seem to figure out how much pasta or rice to cook for two people, and when we cook too much we end up throwing away the surplus. Rice is also one of those foods that is rarely eaten in entirety; those extra few grains that you leave on your plate add up over a few meals.

Avoid food waste by portioning better before cooking and eating your leftovers.


Notoriously delicious, and notoriously short lived. Berries top many people’s favourite fruit lists but they aren’t cheap, and the feeling of realizing your berries are mouldy on day 2 is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Avoid food waste by eating them promptly, or as a smoothie ingredient alternative, opt for frozen berries instead. They’re cheaper, and they won’t expire.

A person holding red and black berries.


We buy yogurt with good intentions, and then we expect it to last as long as cheese does. That expiry date creeps up on us every time, so we rarely finish it all before the packaging tells us it’s time to throw it out.

Avoid food waste by pushing the expiry date a bit – it’s still often fine to eat up to 4 days post labeled expiration.


In theory apples are the best kind of fruit – you can buy them and they’ll last for what seems like an eternity. But regardless of their long shelf life, we often forget about them, and since you very rarely crave an apple, they often end up slowly wrinkled and forgotten in the fruit bowl

Avoid food waste by storing in a cool, dark place, buying seasonally, or just whizzing one up with a few other left over fruits in a blender, et voila – a tasty morning smoothie.



A cereal box comes in handy for pretty much any meal when you’re in a pinch, but committing to a big box is often a recipe for waste if you’re trying a new variety, in turn leading to not-so-crunchy spoonfuls.

Avoid food waste by keeping it in an airtight container, or taking your cereal to work with you for a desk brekkie if you don’t have tim at home in the mornings.

Deli Meat

Another staple with a short shelf life. Planning out your lunches for the week with a pack of lunch meat seems like a responsible idea, but overestimate how much you need or opt for lunch out with your friends a couple of times, and you’re throwing out all of that meat come Friday.

Avoid food waste by buying in precise quantities or eating promptly.


Buying that bunch of fresh herbs seems like a good idea when we’re all excited about a new recipe, but the reality is we probably won’t get through the whole thing, leading to heartbreak at the site of the poor yellowing coriander in the fridge.

Avoid food waste by buying in smaller portions, storing herbs in a glass of water in the fridge, or freezing once used.