Though I love cooking, it bums me that by the end of the week, a lot of the food I cooked gets thrown away and the vegetables I bought wilts away. When I talked with a few of my friends, I understood that it was pretty common in many households.
You either overstock the fresh produce or cook a lot more than needed and keep them in the refrigerator. Often you forget about it and by end of the week ( hopefully!) when you clear the refrigerator for space, there is a lot of leftovers. The FDA guidelines say that refrigerated leftovers shouldn’t be consumed after 4 days. So, it ends up in the trash, wasting precious time and resources.
In a bid to reduce food wastage at our home, we adopted a few steps. It has been over 2 months and I have to say that I have cut down the wastage drastically. The whole exercise takes less than 30 minutes a week and moreover, it has improved our food habits too.
Yes, my tip isn’t a complex or surprising hack. It is simply planning the meals ahead for the week and shopping accordingly.
Every Saturday morning, I take stock of the pantry and refrigerator to see the vegetables leftover from the last week. Then, I take a paper, write down the meals I plan to make for the rest of the week and stick it on the refrigerator. I make it a point to incorporate the leftover vegetables for the meals in the immediately following days to avoid wastage.
Usually, I and my husband sit along and we plan the meal together accommodating everyone’s tastes. It is not really an easy task when you have a house full of choosy eaters. But, it is a lot better than having to ponder about what to cook today for every day of the week. Moreover, it helps ensure that the meals are balanced with enough proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients essential for all the members.
Once the meal plan is ready, we make a shopping list so that I buy only those vegetables I need for the week.
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Earlier, we used to heavily rely on shopping apps like Bigbasket for our weekly grocery and vegetable purchases. But now, we don’t buy vegetables through these apps. Rather, I go to our local store and buy just what we need.
On these apps, vegetables are available in packs of 250 or 500 g. But, often, we don’t need that much quantity of vegetables.
For example, if I plan to cook my son’s favourite chilly chicken on the weekend, I would need just 1 capsicum for it. But, on BigBasket, I often find them in 500 gm packs, which I end up wasting. Similarly, every member of our family likes just one vegetable in Sambar. If I like just drumsticks, my husband eats only ladies fingers and my daughter only the carrots. So, buying 100 or 250 gm each of all these vegetables doesn’t make much sense for us. At the local store, I can buy just 1 drumstick, 5-6 ladies fingers and a few carrots just enough for the Sambar and other dishes for the week.
This reduces the fresh produce wastage drastically at our home. Moreover, buying from the local vendors is always a great help for the community.
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Smart Storage To Reduce Food Wastage
Even if I plan the meals and shop meticulously, we end up having some food in excess by the end of the day. So, storing them smartly and safely is necessary.
- First of all, I store cooked leftover food only in glass bowls and containers. I avoided storing them in stainless steel containers so that whenever I open the refrigerator, I am reminded of what is left in it. This reduces wastage significantly. Moreover, you can reheat it in the microwave oven without transfering to another bowl.
- Some of my friends keep all the leftover food in a single shelf in the refrigerator and tag it so that you are eat them first.
- Next, I store the fresh produces with care. I break the curry leaves twigs from the stem and store them in an airtight container. Similarly, we wrap coriander leaves in a cotton cloth or paper napkin and store them in a ziplock cover or airtight container.
- For green chillies, I remove the stalk and store it in an airtight container lined with a paper napkin. The napkin absorbs the excess moisture and prevents the chillies or leafy vegetables from getting moldy. This way, I can store the leaves and chillies for 2-3 weeks without any worry.
- In many of the newer model refrigerators from LG, Whirlpool and Godrej, you find the vegetable crisper has a humidity controlling vent. It is often unutilized. Vegetables stay fresh longer in higher humidity, while fruits need low humidity. So, keep the vent closed when you are storing vegetables. It helps increase the moisture level inside the crisper.
- Also, ensure that you store vegetables in mesh bag or paper bag. Do not use plastic bags as the excess moisture would condense and make it an ideal breeding ground for mould and fungus.
- If your refrigerator has two crispers, often, the one at the top is the low humidity crisper, which is ideal for fruits. Keep vegetables only at the bottom crisper.
By adopting these methods for the past two months, I have been able to considerably reduce the food wastage in my kitchen. So, what are the methods you use? Share them with us in the comments.