According to Bahraini environmentalist Mohammed Aman, food waste during the upcoming Ramadan will continue – despite the contradiction it poses to the spirit of Ramadan and a growing global demand for basic food commodities. Aman, a waste disposal unit senior environment specialist at the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife, urged Bahrainis to be more economical during the Muslim holy month of fasting.
Speaking to Gulf Daily News, he explained that, “People in this part of the world (the Middle East) tend to show off the amount of food they have on their Iftar (the evening meal when Muslims break their fast) table,” Aman said.
“There are more than six types of dishes on the Bahraini Iftar table, which means that more than three of them will be wasted – accounting for more than 40 per cent of food wasted daily. It can also create a health issue since people would compensate the whole day of fasting by eating extra portions of food… not to forget that most people tend to visit each other during the nights of Ramadan, resulting in more food consumption.”
According to the existing figures, the amount of food waste that occurs during Ramadan is huge and – in my view – completely unacceptable and avoidable.
In the United Arab Emirates alone, it is believed that 500 tonnes of food are wasted every year during Ramadan. In an effort to combat this waste, an initiative called ‘Hefth Al Ne’ma’ (which translates as ‘look after blessings’ in Arabic) was launched in 2004 in the UAE to gather leftovers.
Indeed Islamic scholar the world over have criticised this food waste and pointed to the fact that 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:
1. Never Shop When Your Hungry
Unless you’re a 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.
2. 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 as it can mean the difference between food that lasts you the week and food that gets thrown out after a day as it has started to turn bad.
3. 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 to be well nourished.
4. 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.
5. 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 of compost fruit via shutterstock.com
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