Food For Thought : Love Food, Hate Waste

Posted: October 29, 2014

How do you make the most of food, eat healthy, and avoid wastage? Here are some handy tips!

Feed an empty stomach, not the bin. Tonnes of food is wasted the world over, and it is something worth thinking about seriously. Right from the time food is produced to the time it is consumed, the amount of food wasted could have been enough to feed millions of hungry people worldwide.

We  waste food in our homes, restaurants, supermarkets, weddings, and at parties. We do not realize how much food we throw away every day. Is there any way we can reduce this wastage? If we are wise and do not waste what we have, we will have enough food in the future.

Here are simple ways to avoid food wastage in our own homes and lives.

Buy only what you need

In our busy schedules, we keep buying things in excess so that we do not run out of essentials. Thus, we end up with foodstuff that we cannot consume.You can buy only what you need by having a budget based on the number of family members.

One of the most important things is a shopping list, which can be made by having a look at your fridge (and its capacity to store) and cabinets for the items that need re-stocking. Have fixed days for groceries, and make sure that you do not shop when you are hungry, or else you will buy more! Do not forget to carry the list with you and stick to it. Carry limited cash so that there is no splurging.

Don’t be tempted by offers, discounts, and displays

We are often lured into buying surplus items just because there are deals and discounts (chocolates, biscuits, drinks, and wafers etc). These are fine when you are hosting a party or splitting them and sharing with a friend, otherwise the deals only make you buy more than your requirement.

During the festive season, when there are attractive food displays, we tend to be influenced by other shoppers and by the festive mood, and start panic-buying; this should be avoided.

Buy mini bottles and sachets

Whenever possible; avoid buying the food or ingredients for a recipe which come in large packs. When you wish to try a new product or make a new recipe, you can buy mini bottles or sachets. e.g. A mini soya sauce bottle for Chinese recipes or mini packets of certain masalas for your curries.

Mini packets are easy to finish, you can try new flavors each time, and they are also convenient to carry, especially while travelling.

Organize

Keep your kitchen and fridge organized by labelling all foodstuff – e.g. neatly labelled grains and lentils can make your cabinets look organized, labelled castor sugar and refined flour can make them easy to identify as both look the same. Have a designated place for each item, so you know exactly what you have and where it is (this can also help when you make your shopping list).

Make it a habit to check the ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates while storing food items (tinned, frozen, and packaged) and store them in the right order. Keep food visible, so that the ones that need to be consumed first will not be hidden and discovered after they are soggy or have gone past their expiry date. Green leafy vegetables can be placed first, so that they can be used before they go bad.

Keep food fresh

In order to eat fresh and healthy, one needs to keep food as fresh as possible. One of the key things is keeping your refrigerator at a healthy temperature. Use airtight containers and zip lock bags to store dry food items and fresh food. This can keep them fresh for a longer period. Perishable items like prawns can be cleaned, deveined, and preserved for longer by applying salt to them.

Make use of excess/ leftover food

Any leftover food can be frozen, reheated, and eaten the next day. If food is cooked in excess, you can bring it down to room temperature, keep it in zip lock bags, and freeze it. You can reheat and have it on a day when you are tired or bored to cook. This should not only save you from cooking a meal the next time but will also prevent wastage.

While hosting a party, any extra food can be parceled and given to friends who will be more than happy. Certain items, which can only be purchased in bulk and cannot be consumed, can be shared with a friend e.g curry leaves, which are sold in a bunch.

One can make great recipes out of leftovers – fruits likely to become over ripe can be used to make smoothies, excess vegetables can be used to make soups, put in baked dishes, stir-fried, or put in sandwiches. Chapati can be used to make chapati poha for breakfast, wraps, or you can even make chapati laddoos( mash chapati and jaggery).

Rice can be used next day to make simple rice dishes like tempered spicy rice, veg or chicken Thai rice (which requires leftover rice). Sour curd can be made into kadhi. Surplus tomatoes can be pureed and additional onion, ginger, or garlic can be made into a paste and frozen.

Excess-milk-based sweets like pedhas or burfis purchased during festivals can be frozen and had later or one can make sweets like kheer where the mava in the mithai thickens the kheer.

Order less and serve less

Whether it is a takeaway or while at a restaurant, order sensibly. If you are unable to finish your food at a restaurant, do not hesitate or feel shy to carry the leftovers home in a ‘doggy bag’. At a wedding meal or at a buffet party, serve yourself small quantities of what you like, rather than piling your plate with food – you can go back to the table for further helpings if you like. One can also train children to do the same. You will not overeat nor will food find its way into the bin.

Feed the hungry 

We can make a difference by giving a meal to an underprivileged or a hungry person, and help fight hunger. When you give others what you have been blessed with, more blessings will come back to you in return. Feeding a hungry dog (bread/ chapattis) or a stray animal like a cow (fruit or excess vegetables) will give you tremendous joy.

Each time you bin food, you need to think not just of your hard-earned money that is being binned, but also of the countless poor people that sleep hungry every night.

Love food, hate waste.

This post was first published here.

Pic credit: Image of plate of food via Shutterstock.

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