It’s that time of the year when families cook and share meals for the love in the season. It’s Christmas time and it’s a blessing to witness another celebration of the birth of Jesus.
The week between Christmas and New year’s Day is filled with various cooking activities as well as a gift exchange, feast and leftovers!
A lot of people dislike stale food and resort to discarding them, wasting money indirectly. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, about one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. That equates to about 1.3 billion tons every year.
If you think food waste doesn’t affect you, think again. Aside from the money wasted, when discarded food rots, it produces methane gas which is the second most common greenhouse gas
(You’re contributing to climate change).
Avoiding food waste starts with a step to recycle as much as possible and here are steps you should consider:
STORE FOODS PROPERLY
Instead of keeping your raw eggs in a crate on top of your fridge, ensure they are dirt-free and place them in your fridge.
Get Ziploc bags, put food leftovers inside and seal properly to avoid water entering and making them inedible. You could use adhesive tape to label each item.
It’s worthy to note that some items are meant for the freezer and some for a room temperature moisture-free location.
The temperatures in each location vary and putting an item meant for the -18 degree C freezer temperature in the 1-4 degrees C, can cause certain spoilage organisms to develop.
THINK INGREDIENTS NOT SCRAPS
There would be some extra cooked rice, meat and vegetables among others hanging around, why not think like a Chef and make rice balls or blend the vegetables with a can of tomatoes and create a veggie-packed sauce for pasta?
From the vegetables, you can also add some mayonnaise and make club sandwiches for breakfast. Oh, what about those brown edges from your sliced bread after making your sandwiches, get them slightly warmed in your oven and blend them into breadcrumbs… you’ll someday need your breadcrumbs for some Culinarypaul style drumsticks.
SAVE WHAT YOU CALL SCRAPS
Most times we peel and chop off vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, cabbages, onion and in some cases celery stalks which are headed for the trash can. Ever considered being your personal Chef and making what a stock called mirepoix?
Mirepoix is a stock comprising of Onions, carrots, and celery (ratio 2:1:1) that forms the base of most Continental dishes. You could spice this up and add some chicken carcass or meat bones from deboned chicken or beef, simmer them together with any herb (thyme sprigs always handy) and have yourself a rich stock you could use for your New year’s Jollof rice. You’ll thank me later.
In essence, challenge yourself to do more with everything, you buy when shopping.
PORTION SIZE CONTROL
For the Family that would play host to almost everyone in the community, be sure to serve food and snacks in reasonable amounts. Even Father Christmas doesn’t give all his gifts out to a few persons.
It is better to top up that great meal for the guest than discarding remnants after the guest must have eaten and possibly exposed the meal for long.
PS. It is not selfishness but wisdom when you serve in smaller portions as you’re doing them a favor helping them eat healthily and avoid weight gain associated with the season.
KEEP YOUR FRIDGE CLUTTER FREE
There’s the saying that goes “out of sight is out of mind”.
As much as it’s good having a well-stocked fridge, it could also be wasteful when it’s overstocked and some items get forgotten in there.
Ensure you keep your fridge and freezer organized so you can clearly see what is in there and know by its label when it went in.
A good way to stock your fridge is by using the method Chefs call FIFO which means ‘First In First Out’.
For example, when you are re-stocking fresh eggs, place the newly purchased eggs behind the old ones that have been in the fridge. By doing this, you stick to FIFO which is a good practice.
In arranging wet leftover food items, place them at the bottom of the fridge and place the dry leftovers at the top.
The reason is to avoid any tilt and spill into dry leftovers that could be a mistake when taking out items from the fridge as the wet leftover could either drop-down or spill into the uncovered salad bowl you planned to eat later (you should always ensure you use bowls with well fitting lids in preserving leftovers in your fridge).
Bonus Tip: Drink More!
It’s a season that would have plenty of chewing and eating and we often forget to drink liquids especially water and it’s an unhealthy practice.
So if you are wondering what to do with that cucumber rind, apple peel, the little piece of ginger you couldn’t grate or the juiced lemon rind, why not put them into a clean jar or jug and top up with clean water?
You’ll love the sight and be tempted to give it a sip and you realize it’s really great. And for some healthy options to the regular soft drinks, you could blend leftover vegetable bits which would be a very healthy boost to your diet this Christmas.
I hope you find these tips useful and remember to show love to that stranger who may not have so much to eat. Don’t wait till it’s unpalatable to you before giving it out to someone in need. Ensure you stay healthy and happy!