This brilliant fridge hack will save you time and money 15



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Australians waste a staggering $6 billion of food a year, and a quarter of the average household bin is filled with uneaten food. Not only is this a huge waste of resources, it’s a terrible waste of money – it can also mean we spend more time shopping for things we don’t actually need.

Geremy Farr-Wharton from the Queensland University of Technology set out to find the best way to help households reduce the amount of food they throw away, testing three options.

Unsurprisingly, the most effective was the least high-tech (he tried a fridge cam and an app to help you know what’s in your fridge at all times), and it’s something we can all do with minimal effort.


The researcher explains why this low-tech solution works so well: “My study showed that households generally have one to two members who do the shopping, but crucially there is typically just one person who takes responsibility for putting the food away. This means other occupants often don’t know where to find specific food items, leaving them unsure of what foods are available.

“Respondents in my survey often reported finding foods such as half a tomato lurking in the fridge, and being unsure of how to use it or how it got there, would just leave it to go off.”

Sound familiar?

So what’s the solution? Colour coding your fridge.

Here’s how it works: you place coloured pieces of plastic on the shelves of the fridge (you could also use coloured tape) – green for fresh produce, red for meat and so on.

On the door of the fridge you post a note or chart explaining the code so everyone is thinking about where they are going to put that item before they’ve even opened the door.

Farr-Wharton says, “People generally found the system quite easy to manage, particularly in family households. The outcomes of the project saw food waste reduced quite significantly.”

Do you despair about the food waste in your home? Could this help you? What other tips do you have for preventing food being thrown away?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. We give our leftovers to chickens and geese nothing goes to waste in our house and in return we get beautiful golden yolked eggs

  2. Geremy Farr-Wharton I hope you didn’t spend too long on this because nothing can cure the boy look.

    2 REPLY
    • I know all about the boy look. The only place a male looks for anything is at eye level. I keep telling him “You ain’t never gonna find your shoes/wallet/sunglasses suspended at eye level from the ceiling. For 39 years I’ve been telling him this but he still doesn’t “get it”

    • I have one who is exactly the same and try as I may I cannot change him. The only thing he can find in the fridge is a cold beer.

  3. Whoever did the research for this obviously has not enough to do. 1 My kids were taught to LOOK and if the item not found to write it on the shipping list, same went for toiletries etc. 2 Anyone preparing meals only has to LOOK in the fridge to see if the ingredient is there. Items in my fridge jars, bottles etc, always go back in the same place. 3 I don’t know about anyone else’s fridge but mine, even though a standard size, is not big enough to do the colour coding thing. 4. Raw meat of any sort goes on the bottom, vegies in the crisper, food containers on any shelf, cooked meat on the top shelf.

  4. Do I despair about the food waste in my home? No. There is none. Veg trimmings go in the compost.

    Could this help me? No.

    What other tips do I have for preventing food being thrown away? Make a list and stick to it and don’t buy extra perishables just because they are on special. B|

    2 REPLY
    • Do you live alone Bruce? I can’t imagine two saints living in one house. Yes I do despair at the food wastage in my home. That’s because I’m married to a tosser. He walks round the supermarket tossing all manner of foodstuffs into the trolley. Then next bin day, I am the tosser. Some into the bin and some into the composter.

    • Ah, very good. My 2nd wife was a tosser so I know the feeling.

      I’ve been on my Pat Malone for the past 27 years so I know what I need in the shop, I know where everything is in the supermarket so it is a quick and easy excursion. I also have a tight fist on the budget. Food for the past 4 years has been in the $64 to $65 perweek bracket so I’m happy. Cheers and thanks for your comment. B|

  5. My brother suffers from fridge and pantry blindness, poor thing! If it’s not right in front it doesn’t exist! He tells me I hide things! Lol. Sometimes he can’t see his favourite things even when I especially but them to the front! So, this might assist in restoring his vision! Worth a try.

  6. We very rarely waste food. Leftover dinners get put into containers and frozen, perfect for lunches. Any left over cooked veggies perfect for bubble n squeak for breakfast. Uncooked veggies/fruit great for juicing. Whatever we don’t want it’s either the dog gets or goes into composting so not really wasted.

  7. The only time I have had any ‘wasted’ food was after the mini cyclone we had here in April. We were without power for four days so all the perishable food in the refrigerator had to be discarded. Fortunately there was not a lot as we had just returned from two weeks in Thailand two days before and I had let everything ‘run down’ and had just done a small shop – enough for three days for the two of us- the day before.

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