It is a situation that every household faces - the monumental amount of food that is tossed out as garbage every month. Globally, we are facing a crisis whereby at least a third of the food produce that we buy are thrown out either because it has gone bad or past its expiry date.
In Singapore, close to 800,000 tonnes of food was wasted in 2016 alone and this number is continuing to rise. This number is equivalent to about 2 bowls of rice being dumped into the trashcan daily per person and at this rate, we will require a new landfill every 30 years and a new incineration plant every decade.
Food wasted equals to money wasted. In January of this year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore reported a 2% inflation in food prices in Singapore and it is expected to continue rising in the future. In order to lower household expenses, it will be best to start by minimizing food wastage because it is something that can be done easily and with minimal changes to your lifestyle.
- Plan ahead
Before you head out to the markets to stock up on your groceries, take the time to plan your meals for the week with detailed notes on how much of each ingredient you will require for a recipe. When you are at the shops, be sure to stick to your plan and try not to get items that you do not need.
- Shop at the market
It is only in the food markets that you will be able to buy ingredients loosely so that you can choose to buy only what you need. For instance, if you need only about 7-10 candlenuts for grandma’s special Nyonya Bua Keluak recipe, you don’t have to buy a large packet of it from the supermarket and leave it sitting in the pantry for god knows when you will cook that delicate dish again.
- Prevent from serving too much food
Unless you are the only one at the dining table, the thought of pushing uneaten food from various half-eaten plates into one container to keep as leftovers seems less than desirable. Serving less food during mealtimes will leave more untouched food in the pot that you can stow away to enjoy another day.
- Know how to store your food
In order to be able to store food for a longer period of time, the freezer is the way to go. After making your weekly grocery round, set aside some time to repackage your items; for instance, if you have bought 4 pieces of chicken breast, separate it into portions for use in each meal, keeping the ones that you will not be cooking soon in the freezer. This will keep the meat from spoiling and you can keep it for up to 9 months. Other foods that you can keep in the freezer include stock and broths, fresh herbs frozen with olive oil in the ice cube tray, and baked goods. As for storing vegetables, leafy greens should be rolled up in a clean towel; mushrooms in a paper bag; carrots in a container of water keep them fresh.
While you may have made a thorough list of all the meals of the week, we have to admit that there are times when things don’t go as planned. For example, you bought a pack of potatoes to add into your curry to serve to guests at your dinner party but it was cancelled at the last minute. In such cases, don’t just leave the potatoes in your pantry to spoil, use them for another dish instead.
Food wastage is an issue that concerns all of us and it is our responsibility to solve this problem. Even though individual effort seems futile, we must remember that if we are able to influence the people around us to do their part in this mission, collectively we can definitely attain desirable results.