Food Waste

Reporter: Francesca Belperio

Every year Australians bin five and a half billion dollars' worth of food that's dumped straight into landfill. It's a shameful fact that most of us pay little attention to but here's why you should. Flinders University student Vicki Mavrakis is part of a team of researchers looking at food waste in SA. She spent hours watching local families at meal times. "On average Australian households waste around $616 worth of food a year, which is quite a lot of money when you think about it. We need to change the way we look at food and as consumers we can do that," says Vicki.

Cook Silvia Hart runs the Seasonal Garden Cafe in Hahndorf, Adelaide and she's on a mission to make us all frugal foodies. "I'm really passionate about using everything we can for every five bags of shopping one gets thrown out... so for every $100 that's a $20 note going in the bin would you throw out $20?" asks Silvia. Silvia's aim is to clear the fridge at the end of each week... So, on the menu $10 plates of leftovers. "We take all the food we've got left and we cook it up into one plate wonders delicious, really, really fresh and tasty and the kids love it," says Silvia.

So before throwing out that sad looking fruit and veg, Silvia's going to show us how to save it and save you money... Her first tip: store food to last.

"Say you've bought your herbs like this (fresh - cut bunch), I do this get a Chux, a brand new chux. rip it off, throw your herbs in it, roll it up and dampen it in your fridge and that will keep them really beautiful and fresh (so how long will they last?) A whole week easy," says Silvia.

Another trick Silvia puts chopped parsley, chives and thyme, puts them in ice block trays, fills them with olive oil and then in the freezer they go.

"So you just take a cube out when you need it and put it in your cooking," says Silvia.

She blends stale bread into bread crumbs and stores them in the freezer and when it comes to fruit and veg she doesn't waste a peel.

"Here is the most dense nutrition of the food so super nutritious for you and we're throwing that out so this can go straight in my juicer produce bags and they are a plastic that stops the food going off so I put something in and it will keep it for 2 weeks," says Silvia.

But how far do her food saving skills go in an average household like the Roberts?

"We're always after trying to find nice recipes and new innovative ways of recreating things and things that don't look as pretty as it did the day we brought it," says Jane Roberts.

"With a pantry like that I've got heaps of ideas of what I could do let's have a look in your fridge

there's a few things in here that have seen better days but I'm sure we can cook them into something delicious," explains Silvia.

The challenge? Take these would-be scraps to create three delicious dishes with zero waste.

"Most of us would have limp lettuce or rocket, Jane would throw this to her chooks but I'm going to make salsa verde," says Silvia.

Silvia blends almonds, garlic, olive oil and greens and even uses the garlic skins, coating them in olive oil to use later as garlic oil.

Back in the kitchen...

"Jane I found some old spices in your pantry which between you and me were a little bit past their best before date but they still smell fine to me and they're good so unless it says 'use by' we can still use it," says Silvia.

She adds it to the pot of bruised apples, rhubarb and butter to create an apple crumble, while the limp veggies are transformed into a meat-less shepherd's pie.

"Here's my trick with mushrooms, just grate them in here we go, three meals from all those sad veggies in the fridge and all I've got left to show for it is this here ( veggie stalks & lemons), I'm not going to let this go to waste because I'm going to juice this," says Silvia.

Silvia's top food saving tips:

Plan your weekly meals

Buy food only when your fridge is empty / near empty

Use the Food you have first

Buy a juicer and use it

Think of your food as money

Silvia's Leftover Recipes

The Seasonal Garden Cafe

79 Main Road Hahndorf, South Australia

Salsa Verde ~ green sauce

1 cup of ground almonds

Juice and zest of one lemon

4 cups of leafy green... e.g. rocket, basil, parsley

2 + cups of olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves

Salt to taste

In blender place olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Process until combined

Add in leafy greens and combine. If too thick add more oil.

Add in ground almonds. Less if you want a thin salsa verde or all for a thick dip.

Salt to taste

Store in clean jars for 7-10days in fridge

Meatless Shepard's Pie

3 cloves of garlic

4 cups of mixed vegetables chopped fine or grated

700ml passata

A handful of herbs chopped (parsley, thyme, oregano...)

Olive oil

1kg mashing potatoes

100g tasty cheese grated

50g butter

100ml milk

To make pie filling

In enough oil to cover the base of a heavy based pan fry off chopped garlic and vegetables. Once semi cooked and starting to brown add in passata. Use a small amount of water to clean out the passata jar. Cool until vegetables are cooked through. Salt to taste.


Clean and boil potatoes until fully cooked. Remove from heat and drain.

Mash with butter and milk until creamy. Salt to taste

To assemble

Place vegetable stew in casserole dish and carefully top with mashed potato. Sprinkle with grated cheese and cook in a 200c oven for 10-15mins until golden brown on top.

Apple & Rhubarb Crumble

4 cups of chopped apple

1 bunch of rhubarb roughly chopped

1 cup pangkara flour

1 cup spelt flour

100g butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoon butter

In a heavy based pan placed 2tablespoon butters and diced fruit with 1/4 cup of sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook until fruit begins to break down.

In a mixing bowl combine flours, remaining butter and sugar to make a fine crumb.

In a pie dish place cooked apple and rhubarb and top with crumble. Bake at 190 for 20 minutes until crumble goes golden brown.

The stay fresh bags used in the story can be purchased through: