Week one: Understanding food waste in your household

To kick start the Six-week Food Waste Challenge, it's important to understand the drivers behind food waste in your household. If you understand what you waste and why, you can make informed changes to your meal planning, grocery shopping and food preparation practices.

Calculate your food waste

To record and analyse what you throw away, download our free editable and/or printable food waste diary (PDF - 3.5Mb).


  1. Set up for the challenge
    Keep a copy of the food waste diary close to your kitchen bin to remind you to record your food waste as its generated. 
  2. Recording your food waste
    Every time you go to throw food waste away, use the food waste diary to record exactly what you threw away along with the reason it is being thrown away. Don't forget to record liquids such as milk, soup and beverages, as these also count as avoidable food waste.
  3. Analyse your findings
    At the end of the week, analyse your recordings and look for recurring behaviours that are causing the wastage. For example, if you are regularly throwing away plate scrapings, this may indicate you are serving up too much food, which could be combated by allowing your family to serve themselves. If you are throwing away leftovers, you might be cooking too much food, which can be combated by exercising portion control during the cooking process. If your children’s lunchboxes are regularly coming home with uneaten food in them, consider changing up what you offer them. Whatever the causes, perusing your findings and identifying common behaviours that lead to wasted food will help set you up for success in the next five weeks of the challenge, but beyond this too. Once you recognise a common behaviour, you can choose to target it specifically which will lead to faster results and financial savings. 
  4. Total your food waste (optional)
    At the end of the week, you might choose to tally up the total amount of food waste and allocate a dollar value to each for extra motivation. Don't forget that while the total amount of food waste being thrown away is interesting, the key to really reducing your household food waste is knowing why each item was thrown away. 
  5. Pat yourself on the back for completing Week one
    Congratulations, you're now more aware of the food you're throwing away and why. Don't stop here though! Join us for week two of the challenge where you'll learn how to use up the items in your fridge, freezer and pantry before they end up in the bin. 

Subscribe now

Stay up-to-date and help make Brisbane a cleaner, greener city by sending less to landfill by subscribing to the Clean and green in Brisbane e-newsletter.

Last updated: 9 July 2020