About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Monday 30 September 2019

Challenge 1: Practicing The Subtle Art of Not Wasting Food

I know! We are conscientious people. We don't want to waste food. But we still end up doing so because, well....because life is so busy and we can't plan our meals to that exact morsel and we just can't manage it all. 

1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year!

I spoke to a few friends about their food waste patterns and was delighted to hear from at least a few that they don't waste any food. How do they manage that? I'll share their (open) secrets but first I want to share an idea that I have recently hit upon. 

The Tell-All Jar

I've kept a glass jar on my kitchen counter. Every time any food is wasted, the person who wastes it is required to write out the name of the wasted food item (preferably with quantity ) on a slip of paper and put it in the jar.

Whenever we get time, or at least once a week, we sit down as a family and read those slips of paper to see what was wasted and why. 

Then we talk about how we could have done things differently and try to implement that in the coming week. It helps us to put a handle on things because a visual reminder is more effective than just the knowledge that it's a crime to waste food. 

We strive to keep that jar empty. I've another idea as I write this piece. If the jar stays empty at the end of a week, we should treat ourselves to something nice! 

You can give your personal tweaks to this idea. For e.g. if you regularly waste rice, then you should put the same quantity of raw rice in the jar as you've wasted. This way, you can have a visual reminder of rice that was thrown away due to carelessness. The jar sitting at your countertop would chide you to cook less the next time. 

Now let me share the secrets to not wasting:

1. Buying less - Over a period of time, you understand your family's requirements. Don't be tempted to buy if you won't be able to consume. If a deal is too good to pass, get that and share the spoils with friends. 

2. Storing right - Foodgrains, fruits, and veggies need proper storage. If it's proper storage jars that you're missing, go get them. If it's the technique that's missing, figure that out. If it's a particular food that you waste over and over again, find the reason and rectify that. There's not a problem that you can't tide over!

3. Estimating cooking portions accurately- Cook what you can eat. Set up a measure for portions like rice, pasta, flour, etc. and you'll hardly go wrong. If you're in doubt, err toward the lower side. In case that portion falls short, your pantry will come to your rescue. Looking at overflowing pantries these days, I feel they can feed an army!!

4. Keeping the refrigerator clutter-free - Make visibility your mantra. Store in glass containers so that things don't become "out of sight and out of mind". Move old produce in the front when restocking the refrigerator with fresh groceries. 

5. Using leftovers - Make refrigerator and freezer your friend. One of my relatives sticks a date slip on the container. I think that's a pretty neat idea! Another thought would be to set a reminder on your calendar or Alexa to use that stuff by a particular date. 

A few people don't like eating leftovers. If that's the case with you, I've got news for you! You've to work harder to get the first four steps right. You might have to make that extra trip to the grocery store to restock. You can also plan your menu in advance so that you use more delicate perishables toward the beginning of the week with hardier stuff toward the end.

Do let me know your thoughts on food waste. Is this challenge relevant to you? If you've overcome your habit of wasting food, do share the tactics in the comments below. 

And till the next challenge, keep thinking, keep winning!

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