I think almost of us are guilty of this once in a while - cooking too much food at home or over-ordering food at an eatery and not being able to finish the food in the end. Truth is, we don't realise how much food we throw away every day, from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce.
Partly because we live in a country where poverty does not seem to be a prevalent social problem, we tend to gloss over the issue of food waste. But here's some food (pun intended) for thought: when we buy, order, or cook too much food, we waste our hard-earned money. Money that could have been used for a fun family outing... or in my case, together with my monkies.
Did you know that Singapore generated 786 million kg of food waste in 2015? To put things in perspective, that is enough to fill more than 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools and equivalent to two bowls of food waste generated PER PERSON PER DAY. Gosh.
At this rate of producing waste, Singapore will need a new incineration plant every 7 to 10 years, and a new landfill every 30 to 35 years. Problem is, Singapore has only one landfill - Semakau Landfill - and it may run out of space sooner than expected if our habits do not change.
And with an increasing number of people making the lifestyle switch from eating out to having home-cooked meals, reducing food wastage begins right at home. By cooking smart and making good use of leftovers, we can reduce the wastage of food... and in the process, save money while protecting the environment at the same time.
And speaking of cooking at home, the wifey and I have all along been involving them in the process. Because by including kids in the meal preparation process, it increases their interest and appetite for healthy eating. When parents convey interest and enthusiasm for cooking nutritious meals, they are more likely to instill the same attitudes in their children.
The above photo was taken 4.5 years ago, and they were highly enthusiastic in conjuring up their very own ham and cheese sandwich. See how tiny Ale was back then?
Fast forward to present and she is a great helper to have in the kitchen.
But more than just being a great help, involving them in the food preparation process also encourages and teaches them how to prevent food wastage. By letting them participate in the kitchen, they get a first-hand look at the contents in our fridge and also, understand why it is important to always buy and cook just enough so as to prevent leftovers which might lead to food wastage.
Just like when we decided to head to the park playground over the weekend, but not before preparing some egg mayonnaise sandwiches as snacks.
Here are some tips that we follow when it comes to prepping food for the family:
Cook just enough
With the monkies growing day by day, their appetites have increased as well. So we make it a point to determine the amount to be cooked with their appetites and eating habits in mind so as not to prepare an excessive amount of food.
Keep track of what’s in our kitchen
We plan meals according to what we have in the kitchen, and what’s expiring soon. Which brings me to my next point.
Draw up a grocery shopping list
We involve the monkies in listing down the groceries we need by planning ahead for a week of meals. We usually only cook during the weekends so planning ahead not only reduces waste, it also allows us to make fewer grocery trips, saving time.
Cook a “use-it-up” meal every week
We use only what’s already in our kitchen, including leftovers. Much like the hard boiled eggs. There were 2 eggs left over from breakfast so after checking with everyone in the family if they would like egg mayonnaise sandwiches for snack time, we decided to boil another 3 eggs to ensure that just the right amount of sandwiches was prepared.
And here's another way to get the whole family involved to help build up some enthusiasm for using up leftovers: hold a cook-off contest to see who can make the best use of leftovers! Teach the kids to reduce food wastage by exploring ideas and recipes on how to repurpose leftover ingredients into new meals.
There is nothing wrong with bread ends and crust
Or bruised fruits and vegetables for that matter. Some kids are used to leaving bread crust untouched or cutting it away. In our household, we ensure the monkies eat all parts of bread. Hopefully, this teaches them the importance of valuing food.
If there are any excess food that cannot be stored for too long, we share them with our neighbours
The great thing about having kids help prepare their food is they tend to finish their food promptly. No nagging required.
See what I mean? LOL.
Now that was super quick. Although I highly suspect this had something to do with their lightning eating speed.
Well, as long as they are happy, no?
By making small shifts in how we shop for, prepare, and store food, we can save time and money, and keep the valuable resources used to produce and distribute food from going to waste. And if you need more tips, there is a handy guide that you can download too at www.cgs.sg!
The guide will help you better understand how much food waste is generated in Singapore , and why it is a problem. More importantly, it contains tips on how to reduce wastage when cooking at home (including helpful recipes in using leftovers!), grocery shopping, eating out as well as kitchen hacks to get more out of the food in your kitchen!