More than one-third of all food produced globally is wasted or spoiled. In Singapore, we threw away 790,000 tonnes of food in 2014, which is equivalent to two bowls of food per person, each day. Over the past 10 years, food waste in Singapore has increased by about 48%.
Not only is this an environmental problem, it’s also a downright, well, waste of food. Most of us are guilty of it so here are some ways we can reduce food wastage – and save money in the process too – especially now that the festive season is upon us.
Buy Only What You Need
It sounds so easy but, thanks to human impulses, it’s a lot harder to practice in reality. As you prep for your Thanksgiving or Christmas party, make a shopping list before going to the supermarket and only buy what’s on it.
If there happens to be a buy-one-get-one-free deal when you’re there that you don’t necessarily need for your party, only go for the bulk buy if you know for sure that you’ll consume it all before the expiry date. The first rule: If you don’t buy what you don’t need, you won’t have to throw anything away.
Don’t Go For Looks
Because most people only buy fruits and vegetables that look ‘good’, the odd-looking ones often have to be thrown away by supermarkets. There’s nothing wrong if they're not the ‘right’ shape, size or colour – they’ll still taste the same – so do your part and buy these instead. And really, if you’re going to be cutting up your produce for your different dishes, it really doesn’t matter what they looked like originally.
Take stock of what’s in your fridge and pantry before you shop, so you know which items you already have and don’t need to buy.
While you’re at it, think beyond this big party and figure out how to organise your fridge for your weekly supermarket shopping. Look for expiring items that need to be consumed before they go off, and when packing away new items from the week’s grocery run, push the newer ones to the back, so you’ll use the older ones first. If you’re organised and know what’s in your fridge and pantry, you won’t have to throw away any food.
If you’ve cooked too much for your Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations, don’t throw the leftovers away. Freeze them to be consumed at a later date.
Or if there’s just enough for one more meal, take it to work for lunch the next day. If you have fruits that you know are going to go bad in a couple of days, take them to work and snack on them.
Can You Make Something With That?
If you realise you only have a few bits and pieces of various foods left in your fridge and pantry, don’t throw them away but instead think of whether you can make a meal out of them. Fried rice or noodles are great dishes for just throwing practically any type of meat, vegetables and sauces in. Make juice out of fruits and vegetables or pickle them.
Donate Unused Food
If you think you’re not going to eat it, give it to someone who will. The Food Bank Singapore takes personal donations of excess food items and they have drop-off locations all over Singapore. Organisations such as Food From The Heart and Lions Home For The Elders also accept food donations, contact them to find out more.
If You’re Eating Out…
Food wastage is not only about what you throw away at home, it’s also that plate of spaghetti you didn’t finish at the restaurant. When you eat out, lookout for portion sizes and only order what you can eat. If you feel you can’t finish a whole meal, get someone at your table to share it or get the restaurant to pack the remainder home for you – and make sure you eat it the next day and not throw it away.