The 16th of October is World Food Day and Helping has put out a great infographic to help spread the word about just how much food is wasted every day here in the UAE. I have to say that I was pretty astonished that such a small country as the UAE, wastes over $13 BILLION in food every year that is almost $36 Million of wasted food EVERY DAY!
In effort to reduce that slightly big number of $13 BILLION, here are some tips for reducing food waste in your own home... and therefore paying yourself back some of that $13 BILLION.
1. Shop smart
Buy less food. Simple, right?
More often than not, some of the food we buy in the supermarket will spoil before it’s eaten and get thrown away. Even if it’s only a small amount each time, it all adds up. Avoid getting sucked in by food offers you don’t need. Making a meal plan for the week can help. Then write a shopping list containing only the items you know you will use for those meals. And the number one classic piece of advice: never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry!
2. Work with what you’ve got
Regularly check use-by dates and make meals using items that are reaching their expiry date. This will help reduce the amount of food you throw out, and the different combinations of ingredients can make for some exciting meals. Check out a site like foodgawker for some inspiration. And remember, if stored correctly, some foods can be safe for a few days after their expiry date.
When you make a big meal, save any excess food. It can be your lunch for the following day, or simply a snack for when you get peckish. You can freeze most food in individual portions in freezer bags, too. This can serve as quick dinners in a few weeks’ time when you can’t face cooking!
3. Store food properly
Proper storage of certain foods can drastically impact their longevity. Of course, the longer you can preserve food, the less you end up throwing away.
You should have a cool and dry cupboard or storage area for any dry, long-life products. Sealable plastic containers, jars with lids, and resealable bags are all ideal for these foods. Choose a container that has adequate space for your produce without allowing too much air inside.
Keep your fridge clean and hygienic, and at the right temperature (ideally around 4 degrees Celsius) and your food will stay fresh for longer. Get into the habit of rotating your foods in the fridge each time you shop. Bring items from the back towards the front, as these will have the soonest use-by-dates. This prevents anything from being left at the back and spreading bacteria if it goes off.
4. Serve sensible portions
When we eat out at restaurants, it’s normal to get too much food. This has begun to affect our meals at home. Avoid over-serving food when cooking for friends and family by serving smaller portions at first, then dishing out any more to those who are still hungry. You might also try serving food on smaller plates - the same amount of food on a smaller plate seems like more food, as it seems to be taking up more space on the plate..
5. Reuse, recycleMany items that you might just toss in the trash once you’ve used them still have life left in them. Take used coffee grounds for example - there are plenty of inventive ways you can use them before they go in the trash. such as keeping your fridge odour-free. You can also use old lemons to disinfect surfaces, or even clean the inside of your fridge.