Check what food you have before you shop

Last updated: 1 March 2023
Illustration of hands holding a shopping list in front of an open refrigerator.

Small acts are all it takes to make a big impact

The best way to reduce food waste is to avoid it in the first place. Checking what food you already have at home before heading to the shops:

  • helps you plan your meals for the week around the ingredients you have at home
  • saves you money because you avoid buying food you already have
  • can save good food from going to waste, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of valuable resources.

It’s a small act with a big impact on Victoria’s sustainable future.

Why it matters

Food waste in Victoria

  • Each year, Victorian households throw away 250,000 tonnes of edible food – enough to fill Melbourne’s Eureka Tower.
  • The average household in Victoria throws away $2,136 a year in wasted food.
  • Almost two thirds of the food Victorian households throw away could have been eaten.

(Sustainability Victoria, Path to Half Report, 2020)

The environmental impact

Food thrown into your rubbish bin ends up in landfill. Food in landfill breaks down in a way that can create greenhouse gases, including methane, which affects air quality and public health. When we waste food, we also waste the resources used to grow our food (water, soils and energy) and all the energy used to process, package and transport food from markets to our homes.

Tips and tricks

Do a stocktake

Look in your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you shop and remember to check for expiry dates. This way you know exactly what you have, what needs using up and what to buy.

Make it a habit

Get into the habit of checking what you have by making it the first step of a routine that could also include planning your weekday dinners and making a shopping list.

Prepare your pantry

When you bring new groceries home from the shops try changing the position of the older groceries in your fridge or pantry. Move older items and any food that needs using up to the front and place newer items towards the back. This helps ensure that older food gets used and not wasted.

Find a small act that works for you

There are many other easy ways to reduce waste and recycle more. Find a small act that works for you and be part of Victoria’s sustainable future.