But what happens to the so called waste?
My little endeavours to fight food wastage-
1. When in a buffet- do not overload. Go for seconds or thirds or more. Buffets are places where one generally tends to load the plate on the first trip itself with every delicacy served, to get maximum paisa vasool (value for money). Well, the spread is there for you to sample and enjoy. It is not running away anytime now. You have paid for it, you are free to make as many trips as possible. But many countries charge you if you leave leftovers on the plate. So watch what you unload on that 12 inch plate. Check that link while you are at it- some tips for saving calorie consumption too.
2. If you have issues with storing food back in the fridge that has been touched by hand / jootha (used) spoon while feeding the kids, take small portions into a bowl and replenish as the kids keep eating. While you may want to give the same quantity as per your measure everyday, kids maynot eat exact quantities each day. So have a smaller feeding bowl. Specially in my case we take 1 large bowl for measurement sake to feed both kids simultaneously. My practice is to decant it in a smaller bowl during feeding.
3. If you have issues about food getting spoilt when stored then watch out the quantities you make. If you still have leftovers, do not throw it away. Give it to someone who will appreciate it.
4. Sometimes kids leave half eaten chapati/ messy rice on their plate or drop bits on the floor. Instead of dumping it in the dustbin and leaving it to rot, leave it in a small area in your garden or on a specific bowl for this purpose on the window sill or somewhere else convenient. The birds or a hungry dog would eat them. We used to keep vegetable skins or peels separately to feed the passing cows, as in Bihar you have plenty of them roaming the roads.
5. Don't push left overs into the farthermost insides of the fridge. It gets forgotten and then rots.
6. I normally cut all veggies except potato and my favourite ingredient tomato and store them in boxes in the freezer. I also cut onions and store them in a box in the fridge. Garlic & Ginger is immediately grounded to a paste and stored in the fridge. The free coriander leaves and curry leaves are similarly cleaned, cut and stored. Green chillies usually tend to settle at the bottom of the crisper and rot. So it is wise to wash and put them in a separate box. Tomatoes could be made into a paste and stored to be used in a few days time.
The advantages of this method- the fresh veggies do not rot inside as I do not normally cook on a daily basis. I save money thereby. I also save preparation time while cooking. Searching time is minimised. I save electricity as I do not open my fridge a thousand times to search for ingredients.
7. Find ways to re-engineer-
a) I normally add some lemon or vinegar to milk that splits while boiling and use it as paneer. I add the whey to roti/ chappati dough. It can also be used to make kadhi.
b) Leftover khichdi/ beetroot/carrot bhujiyas/ greens/ daal/ chutneys can be added to the dough to make paranthas/ masala pooris.
c) My mom makes tomato sauce at home and we store it for long term use. After filtering the mix twice, we do a final filter and store that water in the fridge for a few days for using in our curries. Adds a different taste to the usual. Also, if I have ground masala/ ginger/garlic in the mixie, instead of straightaway putting it in the sink, I do a final rinse with little plain water and add it to the curry.
d) Sometimes we get stuck with some fruits which no-one wants to eat. Just make them into a salad/ custard. You could add the left over cake/ choclate biscuit to the custard too for added zing.
e) Left over chana / rajama could be converted to chaat. That way no one will say that they are bored of eating the same thing the entire day.
8. Ask the milk man to reduce the number of packets of milk you buy on days you feel you have excess of them in the fridge as it has not been consumed as usual.
9. Try to rework your usual recipes using lesser of non essentials- like ghee/ dry fruits/ masala- it may turn out to be healthier, lighter, tastier. And cheaper too without altering the taste too much. For example- there is really no point in using both tomato sauce & fresh tomatoes in the recipe. Since tomato sauces have garlic/ ginger/ garam masala added to it- sometime you could eliminate the extra masalas all together.
10. Do not overcook during festivals and then go around distributing to everyone to indicate you are prosperous or generous. All neighbours who are celebrating the same festival would be making the same food. So when you give them a box of your preparation, it goes waste beyond a point.
11. Do not be ashamed to take away however small or insignificant quantity of food that is leftover at the restaurant.
12. Leaving a little bit on your plate is not a sign of decency. Polishing that plate off is not at all symbolic of the fact that the host has not deprived you by serving less. I repeat- it is criminal to leave food on the plate. And it is also not insulting to the host to remove the portions that you are sure you will not eat, right in the beginning rather than consigning it to the dustbin later on. If one does that in my house, I would be affronted thinking that you did not like my food and that's why you are throwing it off.
13. It is not a crime if there is a shortfall during a party. Have some breads/ eggs/ boiled potatoes handy to make up something quickly if needed.
14. Educate your children to respect food. If you find the tiffin box comes back half eaten or unopened- either relook at the quantities or speak to the teacher and give them the riot act. Make them understand that wasting food is not cool or a form of a protest.
15. Note down measures and thumb rule recipes- like a fist full of chana/ rajma is enough for a person on an average. Revise them as per your experiments. Have your own standard measuring cups or use a kitchen balance. This will make calculations easier when you have guests.
I leave behind a thought- is it not criminal to offer cup after cup of milk on idols or using huge quantities of rice for puja and then throwing it away as it is full of incense stick ash/ oil from the lamp after the puja?
Calling for this cause- I tag readers to share their own list.