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Combatting food waste this Christmas

Posted by Rabobank Australia on


As a dietitian, Deanna Kensington is well-versed in the science behind food – so when it comes to minimising food waste in her busy household, this mother of three has some particularly savvy tricks up her sleeve.

Thanks to her food-focused career, Deanna has a unique insight into ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates, which she believes is a helpful tool mitigating waste.

“I definitely don't eat foods past the 'use by' date but for 'best before' items my husband and I have the same views and are happy to consume them if they haven't started to spoil yet,” she explains.

“Sometimes items, especially vegetable items like mushrooms, green beans, pumpkin, potatoes get eaten past their best before dates, Greek yoghurt is another one we are happy to eat.”

Meal planning is also key in ensuring you know what you have in your fridge, and how and when it will be used before it spoils.

Deanna, who has young children aged one, five and seven, said her meal plans were incorporated into her weekly shop.

“I plan what meats I am going to purchase for the week and plan the meals around that. A book collated with recipes that we all enjoy provides inspiration if I’m stuck for ideas, and the easiest nights are the meals I make that all five of us can eat, but that's not every night.”

“All our meals are bulked up with at least four different types of vegetable and salad items, and I also take into account what foods are in season, as fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season are easily accessible and often on special too! I like to have frozen vegetables in my freezer such as peas, beans and corn to add to meals to bulk up when I'm starting to run low on my fresh vegetables.”

Deanna, a Sydney-sider, said a typical week usually included one roast meat dish, such as chicken or lamb, one pasta dish, two fish days – one salmon, one white fish, and something to barbeque such as a pork chop, steak or lamb cutlets.

She said the rest of the week afforded her the opportunity for a bit more creativity, preparing meals such as osso bucco or lamb shanks, chicken and leek pie or schnitzel – ‘it could be anything!’.

Deanna estimates that thanks to these concerted efforts, only 5 per cent of her weekly shopping goes uneaten and is thrown out, the majority being food that has spoilt – or she laughs, the vegetables her one-year-old throws on the floor.

Much of Deanna’s potential food waste is intercepted and used in a pasta sauce enjoyed by the whole family, consisting of leftover roast chicken – which she has generously shared today.

“In reality, leftover food that has remained un-eaten in the fridge for too long, or fresh items such as bread that have gone stale or mouldy would be the main culprits for waste.”

As someone who has always had a keen interest in food, Deanna admits she has always tried to minimise waste, and even more so with children to feed.

“I've always enjoyed food – cooking it and eating it – so I personally have no trouble eating what I need,” she said. “I try to teach my kids about the importance of food to help you grow and nourish the body too, so they see the value in food as they grow, the consequence of having a dietitian as a mum!”

Wasting food was also a concern, she said, “because if it's not getting eaten here, it could have been better used somewhere else.”

As a Rabobank online saver, Deanna said she was proud to be supporting a bank that contributed directly to Australian farmers, and the production of quality fresh food.

“I’m always conscious of where my food comes from, and try to buy Australian products, especially fresh produce, and I don't like buying frozen prawns from another country, for example, when I know Australian products are fresh and superior,” she said.

“And while I personally don’t have the opportunity to contribute to Australia’s wonderful food offerings, saving with Rabobank feels like my small contribution – I’m rewarded everyday with great produce from our farmers, so I’m more than happy for our farmers to benefit from my savings.”

Leftover Pasta Sauce

Deanna’s pasta sauce consists of left over roast chicken, shredded and warmed through with some garlic and onion and a dash of olive oil in a pan.

Leftover vegetables are then added, as well as fresh vegetables such as mushrooms, squash (when in season), broccoli, frozen peas and zucchini.

Once vegetables soften, add a bottle of tomato passata.

Sprinkle some dried oregano in and let it simmer for about 15 minutes so everything can cook through.

Just before serving, stir through some sun-dried tomatoes.

Sometimes to make it different, Deanna turns it into a pink pasta sauce by adding in half a can of the Nestle carnation evaporated milk lite and creamy.