If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that now more than ever we need to be conscious about the planet and stop wasting our precious resources. Food waste is a global issue and here in Singapore, it’s increased by over 20% over the last decade, with 744,000,000 kg of food wasted in 2019 alone. That is the equivalent of everyone throwing away 2 bowls of food every day. Crazy! Not sure where to start? Here are our top ten tips on what you can do at home to help.
1. MEAL PLAN
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But a little planning can go a long way. By spending 10 mins of your weekend planning for meals for the week ahead, you can outline the 3-4 core ingredients that you're going to need to get in fresh (think protein and vegetables). Then look in the cupboards to see what you already have to complement them. Plan how you can use the protein and vegetables for multiple meals!
2. DOUBLE UP & TAKE LEFTOVERS FOR LUNCH
Batch cook evening meals that store well in tupperware that you can eat chilled or reheat at work. Your wallet will thank you later! The added benefit? You’re saving on single use plastic that your shop-bought lunch would have come in.
3. SUBSTITUTE EXOTIC ITEMS
Recipes often call for a small amount of specific ingredients, but you can substitute these based on what the intended taste is. For example, if you want some acidity, add some vinegar. Heat? Add some dried chilli flakes. Stick with the flavour profiles of acidity, sweetness, salty, bitterness and sourness. Taste, experiment and find the balance of flavour.
4. MAKE YOUR OWN
Some ingredients are sold in huge quantities that you won’t use all of. For example, you might have the odd coffee with oat milk. If this is the case, instead of purchasing a litre of oat milk at the supermarket, try making your own! It’s actually much easier than you might think. Plus, making your own is always a healthier option as there are no hidden added ingredients like preservatives or sweeteners. Check out this 5 minute recipe.
5. PLAN ONE MEAL A WEEK WHERE YOU USE LEFTOVERS
Think along the lines of a stir fry where you can chuck in literally any leftover vegetables, then add your protein (chicken, prawns, tofu, beef), and some rice or noodles that you’re bound to already have in the cupboard. Bring it all together with a miso-sesame dressing. Easy!
6. TURN YOUR SCRAPS INTO STOCK
If you have vegetables that are starting to turn bad, chop them up and chuck them in a freezer bag. Do the same for any vegetable scraps you would normally throw away (we’re talking onion peel, carrot peel, broccoli stalks, tops of spring onions and leeks etc). Once you have collected a decent amount, put it all into a pot with some herbs, garlic, and onion, and seasoning. Cover with water and simmer for a few hours, then skim, drain, reduce and store. And voila! You have your very own homemade vegetable stock. Instant flavour for any casseroles or slow cooker delights.
7. PAST IT'S BEST? START GARDENING
If your ingredients are beyond edible, you can still extract and prepare the seeds to grow your own produce for the future. Little tomato plants are fascinating for the kids.
8. BUY FROZEN INGREDIENTS
Frozen vegetables allow you to use the exact portion you need without any waste. Shelflife is extended significantly and flavour and nutritional value are minimally impacted. For ingredients such as cauliflower rice - you can purchase this frozen and pre-riced. Efficient and resourceful! It’s usually cheaper than buying fresh too, so it’s a win-win.
9. STORE YOUR HERBS PROPERLY TO EXTEND THEIR LIFE
If you can, we’d always recommend growing your own herbs at home, then you can pick the exact amount when you need it. But if you’re buying them from the supermarket, always wash and pat them dry with paper towels. For more hardy herbs, wrap them in slightly damp paper towel and then store them in a tupperware or a reusable bag in the fridge. For more delicate herbs, snip the stems (save these for your veg stock!), then place them in a glass jar or tupperware with a little water in the bottom of the fridge.
Alternatively, if you’re often guilty of normally throwing away fresh herbs after using a small amount, try substituting for dried herbs.
10. STORE YOUR VEGGIES PROPERLY TO MINIMISE WASTE
This cheatsheet from the New York Times tells you everything you need to know. Our advice? Ditch the cling film and plastic bags and invest in reusable options, such as tupperwares, silicone covers, reusable freezer bags, and beeswax wraps.
Credit: New York Times
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