Make the most of your leftovers

Last updated: 19 January 2022

The environmental impact of wasting food

Food in landfill breaks down in a way that can create greenhouse gases, including methane, which leads to poor air quality and is bad for our health. When we waste food, we also waste the valuable resources used to grow our food (water, soil and energy) and all the energy used to process, package and transport food from farms and factories to our homes.

Facts about wasted food

  • Wasted food is responsible for around 15 per cent of Victoria's non-energy greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of around 29 billion litres of water - enough to fill almost 12,000 Olympic size swimming pools. (Source: Path to Half)
  • Victorians throw out 250,000 tonnes worth of food every year – enough wasted food to fill Melbourne's Eureka Tower.

Save money by using up your leftovers

The average Victorian household throws out approximately $2,200 worth of food each year. By storing food correctly, using up food in the cupboard or fridge, cooking wisely and sharing leftovers you can save money, time and the planet.

How to make the most of your leftovers

There are many ways your family or household can make the most of leftovers. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Store your food correctly

  • Check your fridge temperature is between 1 to 3 degrees Celsius and the freezer temperature is minus 18 degrees Celsius. Read more about how to save food.
  • Store leftovers in well-sealed, clear and labelled containers in the fridge or freezer.
  • Create a ‘use it up’ shelf in the fridge for food that needs to be eaten first.
  • Arrange the fridge or pantry so that food that needs to be eaten is easy to see.
  • Freeze food that will not be eaten within the next 3 to 4 days.

For more detailed information, see how to store fresh produce.

Fridge displaying recommended temperatures. Negative 18 degrees celcius for freezer and 1 to 3 degrees celcius for fridge.

Cook wisely

  • Every week, try to make a meal that combines any foods that need to be eaten.
  • Make a few serves to store in the fridge or freezer for later.
Stacked containers with pasta sauce.

Share your leftovers

  • Share leftovers with family and friends if they cannot be frozen or safely stored for later.
A doormat with a container of food.

How we manage waste in Victoria is improving

Across Australia and around the world, governments are grappling with how to waste less and recycle more. It's a big, complicated problem and there's no easy, quick fix.

In 2020, the Victorian Government released Recycling Victoria: a new economy, a plan to invest $380 million to fundamentally transform our waste and recycling sector to build a circular economy. This campaign is part of the Recycling Victoria program to reduce waste and make more productive use of our resources.

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