Published 19 February 2021

Cooking the right amount of food is one of the best ways to save money and reduce food waste.

There are several reasons why we over cater. It may be that we don’t know who is coming for dinner, we worry we won’t have enough for everyone, or we serve over-sized portions.

Understanding portion sizes, following a recipe and cooking dishes that use the same ingredients are just a few ways to avoid food waste.


Knowing your portion sizes

We all know overeating can impact how we live our lives. Serving the right amount of the right food will not only improve your health, but will also reduce food waste.

So how much should we be eating? Our hands are a useful guide for how much we need to cook: 

  • One palm-size of raw meat is about 85 grams, which is one serve. 
  • Potatoes, rice, pasta and legumes should be the size of your clenched fist
  • Fruit, nuts and seeds should be the size of one cupped hand
  • Vegetables and greens should equal two cupped hands
  • Meat and eggs should be the size and thickness of your palm
  • Cheese, spreads and dressings should be the size of your thumb.

Following the portion size recommendations on food packaging will also help reduce food waste.


Pay attention to portions

Cooking too much food can be a waste. Once you have selected a recipe, look at how many people the meal will serve and adjust the ingredients to suit.


Cater for who’s coming

When cooking, it’s not only important to know how many people are coming, it’s good to know who. We all know hungry teenagers tend to eat more than children and older people. 


Think beyond the recipe

Experimenting with new dishes is a great idea, but collecting everything needed for one big meal can lead to many leftover ingredients. It’s hard to buy half an onion. To avoid leftover ingredients going to waste, try choosing recipes that use similar ingredients.

Leftover stir-fry vegetables can always go in an omelette or with pasta. Leftover roast chicken can be used in a soup.

Using ingredients in new and different ways is also a good way to avoid food boredom.