3 tips for cutting down on the amount of food (and money) you waste

3 tips for cutting down on the amount of food (and money) you waste
A survey of 1,016 people conducted from January to July this year found that 80 per cent of respondents are bothered about having to throw food away.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Eating is a national obsession in Singapore, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't get a least a little flustered at the mention of their favourite restaurant or hawker stall.

However, there is a dark side-we also waste a lot of food, with $200 million worth of food being thrown away annually. Singapore households waste an average of $170 worth of food and drinks a year. And more than half of this food waste is the result of ordering, buying or cooking too much.

If you're guilty of wasting food, you're not only throwing away food that some starving kid in a third world nation would have loved to get his hands on-you're also wasting money.

Here are three tips for cutting down on the amount of food you waste.

1. Da bao leftovers to work

It doesn't make sense to throw away your leftovers every evening, only to stand in a long lunchtime queue the next day.

Simply da bao your leftovers and have them at lunch, and you'll solve not only the problem of having to fight for seats during lunchtime, but also that of being forced to eat unhealthy meals at hawker centres every day.

Make it a rule to never throw away food if you can help it, whether you cooked it yourself at home or are eating at a restaurant. Even if you don't end up eating it, someone else in your household might get hungry.

Restaurants in Singapore are usually more than happy to doggy bag your leftovers for you. If you eat at hawker centres regularly, make it a habit to carry a small tupperware container in your bag-you can even get collapsible ones to save space.

2. Share with neighbours, friends and colleagues

Instead of throwing away excess food or letting groceries go bad before you can finish them, share any extras with neighbours, friends and colleagues.

This is particularly pertinent for home cooks who find it difficult to finish all the perishables they've bought at the supermarket.

For instance, let's say you've bought too many eggs and won't be able to finish them before they go bad. Instead of tossing them, whip up a big quiche in the oven and then invite your neighbours to come over and partake in it.

In fact, if you monitor your food supply closely, you can make it a habit to organise social events that will enable you to share with others when you're having trouble finishing what's in your fridge. For instance, whenever you're having trouble finishing your groceries, round up your colleagues for a pot-luck lunch or invite your friends over for dinner.

3. Ruthlessly organise your groceries and plan your meals

If your fridge is a minefield of expired products, you need to make the effort to be more organised about using your groceries.

Buy a whiteboard and use it to track the expiry date of products you tend to have trouble finishing. You can also use it to list meat and vegetables in the fridge so you can see at a glance what meals to prepare.

You should also make meal plans at the beginning of the week before each trip to the supermarket, and then construct your grocery list based on what you plan to eat during the week. This will help you to avoid buying items that you're not quite sure when you'll use.

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