ONE in five bags of bought groceries ends up in rubbish bins in a shameful waste of food, experts warn.
Households are throwing away an average $600 to $1000 a year in uneaten products, latest research estimates.
Milk is the most wasted individual fresh item, followed by lettuce, bread, tomatoes and yoghurt, according to a study commissioned by appliance maker Panasonic Australia.
Poor meal planning, confusion about storage methods and expiry dates, and "two for one" specials tempting shoppers to buy more than they need are blamed, the Herald Sun reports.
Advocacy group Do Something! founder Jon Dee said some waste specialists believed at least 20 per cent of groceries were now discarded, an attitude that was horrifying to the older generation.
"We should be ashamed about how much food we throw away," Mr Dee said.
"It's not just the food, but all the water and energy and other components used to bring that food from paddock to plate that is wasted," Mr Dee said.
Victorian households turf food worth about $2 billion, out of the $8 billion tossed nationwide, according to Do Something!
The calculations are considered conservative.
Fareshare chief executive Marcus Godinho said this was a sad irony given 300,000 Victorians ran out of food and could not afford their next meal at some stage each year.
Mr Dee said tonnes of farmers' produce didn't even make it to supermarkets because it was considered the wrong size or too ugly.
Many consumers forgot about food left in pantries or fridges and let it go mushy or mouldy.
Others piled dinner plates too high and could not eat it all, or were unsure about storage methods and times.
Perfectly good food was also thrown away as people didn't realise that unlike "use by" dates, products marked "best before" could still be eaten afterwards if they looked and smelt OK.
Waning cooking skills had also seen a drop in creative ways to use leftovers, which were instead binned.
Panasonic's separate survey of 500 Australians found one-fifth of dumped food was from unfinished meals.
Heidelberg Heights mum Tia Mohamed actively discusses the importance of avoiding food waste with her family.
"I have been talking to the kids about how food needs to be eaten if it is in the fridge before we buy more," Ms Mohamed said.
"I also freeze when I don't need it straight away."Read more at the Herald Sun.