I did a calculation of the food that ends up being thrown away in my home and I was surprised at the numbers. About Rs 500 (that’s around $8) of food items that I bought in the last 10 days were wasted. The same amount of money could’ve fed my maid’s family for 5 days.
Reasons were several – Breads reached their expiry date, half cut fruits like papaya and melons had to be thrown away, a bunch of leafy greens that started to rot, expired milk, a box of cereals that turned bad and several others, flavoured yogurt that we hated.
About 20% of what we buy in urban India ends up being thrown away. That’s an alarming number. Think of the number of people that could’ve been fed with this much food.
This made me realize that I need to be very careful while doing my weekly grocery. So, I made a list of the steps that I will follow from now. Here it is:
- Prepare A Grocery List Before You Shop: Preparing a list lets me be sure I am only purchasing food items you need. I pre decide upon the quantities and try to purchase just enough for a week.
- Buy Smaller Sizes: If you can’t finish of a jumbo sized pack of breads, get a smaller one. Similarly, smaller portions of Butter, Ice Creams, Frozen Food, Fresh Cream, Paneer and almost everything that you can’t finish off in a week.
- Cling Wrap Cut Fruits And Vegetables: Since I can’t finish a whole papaya in one go, I cling wrap the remaining half and it stays fresh for longer.
- Look For Expiry Dates: Most stores keep the soon to expire items like breads, butter and milk in front of the shelf, Try to reach a little back of the shelf and you could grab yourself a fresher item.
- Grab A Few Bag Clips: Bag clips or even simple clothespins are great for keeping cereal and chip bags closed and fresh, resulting in less waste.
- Invest In Quality Air Tight Containers: Store cereals, chips, cookies in storage containers. I could’ve bought a good number of storage containers with the amount of stuff I threw in the past 10 days.
- Donate Food Items That You Don’t Like: Donate that new flavour of cookies or instant noodles that you didn’t like to you house help or kids at the street.
- Clean, Cut And Store Your Leafy Greens In Containers: Keeping coriander, fenugreek or any leafy green in polybags could make them go bad sooner. Keep them in the containers as soon as you bring them home.
- Think Before You Throw: There are plenty of people who could use those leftover chapatis or dal. Think of all those unprivileged people before you toss a food item in the waste bin.
- Read Reviews Before Trying New Products: Use your smartphone to read review of an item before investing in it.