Remember when our mothers used to tell us to finish our food because there are “poor children starving in Africa”?
Well, mom wasn’t wrong and there’s 100% truth in that.
While poverty is a serious issue that needs tackling, so food wastage on the other side of the coin, and it begins with you. It’s actually not very difficult to reduce food waste at home, — all it takes are small tweaks to the way we buy and prep our food at home.
A great starting point would be to stick to a shopping list at the supermarket, followed by keeping track of how much food you actually throw out.
You’ll be surprised at how much food we inadvertently waste, and having it on paper might just shock you into reducing your food wastage at home.
Here are some other simple ways to make the most of the food you have at home and waste less:
1. Use the “First In, First Out” principle
FIFO, or “First In, First Out” is a principle you should take to heart especially when storing groceries that you’ve just bought.
It simply means that when you’re putting away new groceries, move the older products to the front and the new ones to the back.
That way, you won’t forget about the old items that you have and risk going past its expiry date. This method works for both the fridge as well as your dry goods pantry.
2. Freeze vegetable trimmings for stock
Did you know that all the excess skin and peelings from your vegetables can still be put to good use? Don’t toss them out!
Keep extra trimmings such as carrot and potato skins in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer. Once you’ve accumulated enough, you can use them to make vegetable or chicken stock.
Oh, and don’t forget to freeze up excess chicken bones too, while you’re at it.
3. Designate one day a week to use up all the produce in your fridge
We’re sometimes guilty of forgetting about the produce we have in the fridge, especially if we don’t cook at home that often. What later happens is perfectly good produce rotting, rendering them useless.
Don’t let that happen anymore—designate one day of the week to use up all the fresh produce you have in the fridge.
If you think it’s slightly ambitious to mix all the different stuff you have in your fridge into one meal, worry not.
There are many recipe ideas out there that advocate using up leftover produce in your fridge—even condiments! You won’t run out of ideas.
4. Reuse overripe produce
If you happened to forget about the fruits you left at home to the point that they’ve gotten slightly overripe and are a little squeamish to eat on their own, don’t throw them away just yet.
However, you can throw them into the blender to create a smoothie. Once they’re all blended up, you won’t even remember that they were once overripe.
Other than smoothies, you can also make jams out of the fruits, or pickle overripe vegetables. There are many creative ways that you can reuse overripe produce, even if you don’t consume them fresh!
5. Compost food scraps
Did you know that most of the food scraps you toss out can be composted? From eggshells to coffee grounds, and fruit peelings, these are all compostable.
Just set up a corner of your garden with bare soil and alternate layers of twigs with your food scraps.
In about two to three months depending on the weather, your compost should be ready for your plants to feed on. Find out more about how to set up different types of compost here.
6. Store your food the right way
Not many people know how to properly store their food items to maintain or extend its lifespan. For example, produce such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, and cucumbers are better stored outside of the fridge.
You should also separate foods that produce more ethylene gas from those that don’t, to avoid premature ripening and spoiling.
Examples of foods that produce ethylene gas include bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and green onions.
They should be kept away from ethylene-sensitive foods such as leafy greens, berries, and potatoes to avoid them from spoiling quickly.
If you find that your fresh herbs wilt quicker than you can finish them, consider freezing them in ice cubes of olive oil to preserve their freshness.
You can also store your bread in the freezer if you tend to take longer to finish up a loaf.
7. Keep leftovers for your next meal
Nobody’s perfect, and we can’t always portion our meals precisely. There’s bound to be some extra food from, say, dinner. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to toss it out!
Simply repack these leftovers for your next meal. Have them for lunch the next day, and you’ll even save some extra money by bringing lunch to the office. Plus, you’ll be able to get out of suggesting where to eat with your colleagues, because you’re all set.
Just be sure to store food in the fridge within two hours of cooking. You don’t want to end up having a bad tummy later on.
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