Shuffle Your Food: A Simple Idea for Saving Money by Wasting Less Food

This article is about a simple idea to reduce carbon emissions from wasted food

Food waste is a colossal waste of money, water, land and carbon.  It’s not a malicious thing, just cheap food and bad habits.  Let’s look at one really simple idea that can help you save cash by wasting less.

Rotate items in fridge to force them to your table

If you shuffle your food around you’ll waste less and save money. Today I’m going to talk about how you can get to grips with the rotting food in your fridge but first up I’m just going to throw out a few food waste statistics to get you motivated. Food waste could be costing your family over $1,000 in the US the average is about 900 dollars in the UK it’s about 700 pounds and in Australia is over a grand.

If food waste were a country it’d be the third biggest carbon emitter

The average Westerner wastes about 100 kilos of edible food per year. That’s just the stuff upstream. The systemic food waste is far greater than that. If you were to put all the world’s food waste in a bin, it would need to be one kilometer deep and more than two kilometers tall. That’s a really big bin. The emissions from all this food waste are greater than any country like Germany, Brazil or India. In fact, they’re only surpassed by the USA and China. So that’s the global picture. Now let’s talk about your fridge. With one of the videos from our food waste series, the fourth happened in this project is about shuffling and storage. And that’s about making better use of the food that you’ve got.

Set up the fridge to be shuffled

Our fridge used to be the right size when there were just two of us. But now that there are four of us, it’s a little dinky. I’m going to use it to demonstrate a system that will help you use your food before it goes bad and gets thrown out. This is how our fridge used to look before we started being proactive about how we move food around.

Shuffle the food so there’s always a serving ready to be eaten

There’s nothing special about how I’ve got the fridge now. There’s milk in the side, vegetables, some leftovers, some yogurt, a bit of cheese, and then a bunch of sauces and stuff up top. Pretty regular looking fridge. So this is the exact same fridge with the same food after a 5-minute reshuffle. Now it might look the same, but it’s actually changed quite a bit. Basically, what I’ve done is made sure that everything that needs to be eaten in the next two days is on the top shelf. Now I’ll grab my camera, you can come in here, and you’ll see that we have some leftover lasagna, some custard, some vegetables, hummus, and a bit of smoked mackerel. Now that’s everything that was in our fridge that needs to be eaten quite soon. A clever way to make a habit of moving stuff around your fridge is every time that you open it, make sure you move something.

One way to cut down on food waste is to be more savvy about your use-by dates and store your food more cleverly. For example, you can put bread on the top shelf of your fridge so it’s in your face, and wrap up foods that need it.

Lindsay Wilson
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I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.