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What a waste!

 Do you remember secretly hiding food you could not finish until your parents were out of sight before throwing it?

I WAS GUILTY OF IT.

I would take a tissue, put the food I could not finish inside the tissue and throw it secretly. My childhood basically consisted of me not being able to finish my food before worrying about being scolded by my dad.

AND I THOUGHT NOTHING OF IT.

Actually, if you were to really think about it, it’s sad how we often waste food on a daily basis. Most of the time, we will just throw whatever food that we or our kids cannot finish because they will go bad anyway.

But did you know that in 2015 alone, SG generated 786 million kg of food waste – that’s two bowls of food waste generated by each person, EACH DAY!

Okay, some of you may be asking, “SO WHAT?”

See, at this rate of producing waste, SG will need a new incineration plant every 7-10 years, and a new landfill every 30 – 35 years.

Are you still asking me “SO WHAT?”

Grrrr.

Singapore is just a tiny red dot. You understand what that means, don’t you? Yes, we live in a super duper small country with limited space for EVERYTHING. As it is, we only have one landfill which may run out of space sooner than expected if our food wastage habits do not or cannot change.

GASPS.

It’s very worrying, guys.

Very, very, worrying.

Something for all of us to think about.

My experiences at home have led me to believe that kids like to waste food – their eyes are bigger than their stomachs most of the time! Their appetite change too easily – one day they can gobble up a glass of milk and ask for some more, the next day they can be so picky and get full too quickly.

Believe me, my girls are small eaters with super big eyes on some days. They simply cannot resist the urge to take more than what they can eat, especially right after school.

And when they cannot finish their food, the following excuses will be audible:

“I have a stomachache.”

(They will proceed to eat something else instead.)

 

“I think there’s something wrong with the food. It tastes funny.”

(Sometimes they speak the truth. Sometimes there’s really nothing wrong with the food)

 

“Mummy, can I eat this again later?”

(They will never eat it again later)

 

“Mummy, do you want some more? You can have mine!”

(Nadyas applying the concept of sharing here)

 

SMART THINKING NADYAS!

But I’m smarter because I was like you girls too. LOL 

So what I do with them nowadays is to tell them to take HALF THE AMOUNT of what they think they can finish.

“Huh? So little ah Mummy? Like baby eating like that!”

My reply?

“EAT LIKE A BABY FIRST, THEN TAKE SOME MORE IF YOU FINISH THE FIRST SERVING.”

NEA1

The food will always taste nicer when you have less of it on the plate.

NEA2

And true enough, someone finished her food and asked for a second serving!

NEA4

Meanwhile, the small eater like Mysha managed to finish her food.

NEA3

Tip: Always get them to eat first, and drink later. The more water they drink during mealtimes, the faster it is for them to be full.

My husband especially is very particular about the girls not finishing their food because he is not the sort to waste food. And nobody likes it when the husband starts to nag. LOL.

But of course I understand where the husband is coming from. If we don’t teach our kids from young about preventing or reducing food wastage, then it will just become another habit of theirs till they grow old.

Teach kids the value of food and the importance of not wasting resources.

Sometimes, our kids go to the supermarket and want things that they don’t need but they just feel like eating… because mummy or daddy will buy them anything! Obviously they have a hard time understanding the amount of work and resources that go into putting food on their table and so they take things for granted as a result. Thus it’s important to start teaching the kids from a young age the resources that go into producing food, so they will learn to respect the value of food. Implementing rules so that they use a bit of their allowance to pay for their food (giving them some practical motivation) also helps make them realize the cost of wasting money and food.

The more we get our kids involved, the more they may be likely to eat their meals instead of arguing about disliking something, and therefore not wanting to eat it.

I also did my readings to find out how we can prevent or reduce food wastage as a family because hey, doing so can actually help households save money as well!

 

  1. Shop smart.

Make sure we do not buy too much food, especially when we are doing grocery shopping. Making a detailed shopping list of what we really need at home is often what I do, and that helps us from impulsive buys. Whenever it’s a trip to the supermarket, the shopping list will always accompany me so that I will know exactly what to buy and not what I feel like buying.

My girls have pretty understood the concept of grocery shopping. When we run out of something at home, they will tell me to include it in the shopping list for our next supermarket trip. I am glad to say that our shopping list thus far contains needs rather than wants.

 

  1. When preparing food for the family, do not overcook or over serve food.

It’s pretty hard to gauge how much is enough for the family especially when you are not really an expert in cooking (like me!). But I think we all learn through trial and error.

Using small plates can help to ensure that we do not over serve food! Start with less food on your plate. If you want more, you can always have more.

  1. Save and actually eat the leftovers.

On days when there’s too much food cooked or prepared, save it in air tight containers, and date the leftovers so that we will know how long they have been in the fridge.

You can also have a cookoff with your kids repurposing leftover ingredients into new meals.

My mother will usually use the leftovers to prepare a totally new dish altogether. For instance, whenever we have leftovers from our steamboat or bbq session the night before, she will use the leftover meat to fry noodles for the entire family for breakfast the next day.

 

  1. Store food in the right places.

If we are throwing out food that has gone bad constantly, most likely it is because you are not storing them correctly. Yup, we often store food at the wrong places with the wrong temperature. Fruits and vegetables for instance, can last longer if we store them correctly.

I really like the infographics below about where to store your fruits and vegetables.

nea7

nea6

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/how-to-store-your-fruit-and-veg-to-make-it-last-longer_uk_5715e9ace4b0636a3f6d1b2d

nea9

Source: NEA’s Food Waste Reduction Handy Guide, downloaded from www.cgs.sg

Wow! I did not know that:

  • Pineapples and lemons are best stored at room temperature.
  • Berries and grapes are firm fridge friends
  • Bananas have to be kept away from the other fruits and vegetables because they will result in most fruits or vegetables ripening too quickly and turning bad

I have actually been storing certain fruits like pears, lemons and avocados wrongly ALL MY LIFE!

The mentality used to be “Put it in the fridge if I want the food to last longer!”

  1. Monitor what you throw away so that you will be mindful of what to buy less during your next grocery shopping.

For instance, I used to buy the extra big loaf of bread instead of the normal sized ones so that I did not have to keep buying when we ran out of bread at home. But I noticed that half a loaf of the bread would not be eaten and by then, it was already past the expiry date.

So it’s just the normal sized bread for us these days.

 

  1. Tempt our kids!

It’s always good to work towards something when you have an end in mind. In the case of my kids, it’s always treats like…BUBBLE TEA or GUMMIES! Since I do not allow them to drink bubble tea and snack on sweets all the time, to be rewarded with such treats is a big deal to them! Not all the time though. This really works like magic especially when you want them to finish their meals.

NEA5

Planning your meals to prepare just enough food, and storing food properly can help your household waste less food and save more money.

Even though you may need to make some little changes in your routine to reduce the amount of food you’re wasting as a household, with a little commitment and focus, the suggestions above are very achievable, I reckon.

Less food wastage gives you a Clean and Green Singapore too! Want more tips on reducing food wastage at home? Download the Food Waste Reduction handy guide from www.cgs.sg

And of course, I know who will be the happiest after reading this post.

THE HUSBAND!

His naggings about food wastage have been justified…finally!

 

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