Stop Wasting Food sign with a forest background

Waste Not, Want Not!

Presenting 10 ways to avoid wasting food…

It’s a value dinned in to us by grandmas and teachers—waste not, want not, especially food!! Remember sitting in front of a plate trying to swallow something unpalatable that was simply described as, ‘good for you, so eat it’?

Statistics say:

  • About one-third of all food produced globally is wasted or spoiled.
  • Americans discard nearly 40% of the food they buy.
  • Organic matter in landfills is responsible for 20% of all methane emissions, the greenhouse gas that affects climate change.
  • The number of people world over who do not eat a healthy, full meal daily is increasing.

As grownups, the grim situation on the food front is impacting our lives. The harvests depend on monsoon, labor and so many other variables that every grain of food that reaches our plate has gone through so many hazards.

None of us set out intentionally to waste food. However, it does happen.  Did you know that about 20% of all the food that we buy is wasted?

Advantages of not wasting food

  • You save quite a lot money.
  • Demand and supply will have its effect on prices as well.
  • When food is consumed sensibly, it helps the environment and impacts ecology as well.
  • There will be more food to go around. 

10 easy ways to avoid wasting cooked and uncooked food:

  1. Too much emphasis is given to making the cooked dish ‘look’ perfect. So, to create this masterpiece with the right shape, size, color and quantity, we tend to discard quite a bit.
  2. Growing your own food, especially replanting roots of plants like celery, beetroots, herbs, etc is a wonderful way of recycling.
  3. When you shop hands on, you will be conscious of the price you pay and you will put the produce to best use.
  4. Shop with a list in hand to prevent binge shopping…but don’t be too rigid. Get creative when you see something special that you’d like to try out.
  5. Shop wisely…watch out for sell-by dates. If it is too close for comfort, tweak your menu for the day and use it up immediately. Look out for local produce. They are cheaper, supportive of the community, the indigenous farmer, veggie garden grower or poultry or bee keeper.
  6. Talking of menus, many a precious moment is wasted in front of an open refrigerator door, peering in and trying to decide what to cook. A planned menu helps while shopping and at prep time.
  7. Keep perishables where you can spot them in your shelves, fridge and so on. Use clear bags to store greens, herbs, etc so they are clearly visible and get used up.
  8. Reuse leftovers by giving them an add-on or new avatar. Yesterday’s sambhar or dhal helps to make an all-in-one casserole with rice, broken wheat or pasta.
  9. Bits and pieces of veggies, meat, poultry can be put together in a pot and dished out as a hearty, nourishing soup. Similarly, leftover vegetable side dishes can take be used for cutlets, stuffed rotis, falafels or katti rolls. Use your imagination!
  10. Freeze food! Take it out few days later, tweak it inventively and present it as a new dish at the dinner table!
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Padmini Natarajan calls herself Dame Quixote for she is forever tilting at windmills! A storyteller, poet, columnist, blogger, editor and journalist, she has specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. She has worked for over 15 years as Part-time Language Editor and Writer of manuals, curriculum textbooks and other material with an E-education organization, EZVidya/Chrysalis that is aimed at empowering Teachers, Students and Parents. She taught Vedic Heritage at Kalavardini to children from the ages of 3 to 14 and written and directed skits and plays. She won the Gourmand Special Jury Award in Paris in 2009 as co-author of ‘Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine’. Her book of short stories - ‘Crossroads: Stories from South Indian Lives’ - has good reviews on Amazon. Padmini has been concerned with paying it forward with her involvement in organizations like Sneha, a suicide prevention NGO, Canstop, Cancer Support group and many women’s organizations. Her other passion was acting, on stage, TV and screen. She is a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff, a music maniac who listens to Golden Oldies and has a strong Facebook presence. Nowadays she is an armchair activist and world traveler from the safety of her home. Quite the hypochondriac, she is exploring spiritual enlightenment through Vedanta and loves to spout philosophical thoughts to unwary audiences.