A couple of days ago, I attended a small communal iftar at a local mosque where I broke my 18-hour fast with some rice, salad and dates. Although there was plenty of food, the organisers made a concerted effort to ensure that none of the food went to waste and most of us went home with some leftovers. Sadly, this was a rare occurrence and doesn’t reflect the wider experience in the Muslim world– particularly in the Gulf nations where studies show that on average 30% of food is wasted per household.
Ramadan is a month of modesty and a time to reflect on the many blessings received from god including food and clean water. However, many Muslims make the mistake of preparing a feast of lavish dishes to break their fast which inevitable leads to waste as you never eat as much as you think you will. In Bahrain, environmental experts have reported that 30% of all food purchased in the country during Ramadan will be thrown away.
In Abu Dhabi, approximately 500 tonnes of food gets thrown away during the month of Ramadan and its been found that people purchase 30% to 40% more household products than they actually need. Yet the Qur’an states: “Eat and drink but waste not by excess, for God loves not the wasters”. So, here are five easy tips to help you cut your food waste during Ramadan and the rest of the year (whether you are a Muslim or not):
Never Shop When Your Hungry
Unless you some sort of saint with steely conviction, shopping when you’re hungry equals disaster as you will wander from your shopping list and end up buying lots of treats for yourself. If you absolutely have to shop when hungry, avoid bargains and stick to my ‘cut out a third’ rule by putting back a third of your shopping before your reach the checkout.
Store Your Food Correctly
Whist this may sound simple, you’ll be surprised how much longer you can make your food last by following basic instruction like putting things in a cool, dry place. Making sure that your fridge is set to the right temperature also a good idea as it can mean the difference between food that lasts you the week and food that gets thrown out as it has started to turn bad.
Make A Third Less
This is a general rule I follow which I’ve found to be quite effective when you’re food shopping or cooking. When you’re hungry you always over-estimate how much you want and end up making too much. So, cut out a third of what you planned to make (do you really need that extra dish at meal time?) and remember that you don’t have to stuff yourself full to be well nourished.
Don’t Buy Into Bargains
Okay, so it’s ‘buy two get the third free’ but that doesn’t mean that you need three or that the bargain is really a bargain for you. If you live alone, than bulk buying is not a good idea and you should stick to getting what you need rather than over-buying and ending up with lots of expired food. Even if you have a large family, you’ll find that bulk buying is a no-go as people get bored of eating the same thing and prefer some variety. Whats more, bargains tend to be snacks and other non-staple foods so you also need to ask yourself whether 30 packets of crisps is a good idea.
Plan Ahead For Leftovers
When making dishes that I think don’t taste great the next day, I try to be cautious and conscious about the need to limit any leftovers. Having less is better than having more in these cases. However, some dishes like lasagne taste better the next day in my humble opinion so I can afford to make a little extra and be more generous in my cooking portions. Apply the same rule to your favourite/worst leftover dishes and also get a little creative- just because something is a leftover doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend 30 minutes incorporating it into a different and better dish.
Have any great food saving tips? Feel free to share them by adding your comments below- happy Ramadan and food saving!
:: Image via rassiel/flickr.
For more on green Ramadan see: