Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims around the world. It is the month where we try to get closer to Allah, and practise self-control and compassion for others. While many of us may spend hours reciting the Quran and performing Terawih prayers, there's something smaller that we are often guilty of which is not encouraged in Islam - that's the overindulgence in food and the creation of food wastage.
After hours of fasting, many of us tend to overindulge in food during the sundown Iftar meal, as well as prepare excessive amounts of food. This leads to wastage which goes against the Islamic spirit of moderation and consideration for others. To help you be more mindful during Ramadan, here are 10 tips we've gathered to help you prepare just what you need for your meals, and how you can reduce any wastage ?
1. Plan what meals to cook for the week
Try to cook your own meals for Iftar more often and eat out less. This way you can cook just enough and avoid leaving half a plate of restaurant food still untouched.
Credit: @inspo_messydesk on Instagram
If you are cooking for your family, send a text to the family chat and ask what everyone feels like eating for the week. By doing this, everyone gets a fair chance of eating the food of their choice each week, and you can avoid falling into a rut of having the same meal every day. Planning in advance will also allow you to avoid spontaneous purchases.
P.S. If you have enough space in your fridge, you can even prepare your meals in advance! This will help you save time as well ?
2. Create a shopping list based strictly on the meals planned
Once you've decided on your meals for the week, check what ingredients you already have and make a list of what you still need to buy. This encourages you to buy only the ingredients that you need and saves you the trouble of forgetting an ingredient and having to make a return trip to the shop.
Credit: @littlesomethingblue on Instagram
By sticking to a strict list you can avoid both food wastage and unnecessary spending. If you would like a treat, limit it to just one item each during the grocery trip - remember that Ramadan is about self-control! ☺️ Get started with your ingredients lists by looking at some recipes that you can pull together in 15 minutes or less!
3. Avoid going grocery or food shopping when hungry
When you are feeling hungry, everything you see seems appealing and you tend to overbuy because of your hunger. Hence, go for a grocery run after Iftar when you are full so that you are not inclined to buy things at first sight. If you can only go shopping while fasting, remember to stick to your list to control your impulse buys!
[Heading out for iftar instead? We've got 15 places that are perfect for you and your loved ones!]
4. Don't overcook
Learn to under-cook portions slightly instead of overcooking. Try to cook portions that are just nice, and adjust the serving size accordingly if it's too much or too little for you. If you've found that you undercooked, you can always visit your nearest Bazaar and fill up your stomach with some goodies ?
Credit: @ed_hey on Instagram
P.S. Try to notice the portion everyone eats and adjust accordingly. If you find that your appetite grows or shrinks throughout the month, keep track of it. If you have kids or elders in your household, then you may also need to make some changes to typical recipes.
5. Donate it to the needy/friends
If you have overcooked significantly, pack the leftovers and donate it to the needy on your way to the mosque. Otherwise, give it to your friends or relatives living near you.
Credit: @kuviamm on Instagram
What I like to do sometimes is to give it to the foreign workers who help us keep our neighbourhood clean. Most of them are Muslims after all. You can search for Iftar or meal delivery initiatives near you to see if you can donate excess food or ingredients.
6. Freeze leftover meals
Freezing leftover meals in food containers come in handy on those days when you are too lazy to whip something up for sahur or iftar. Simply microwave the food when you need to eat it, and it's ready to be eaten in a flash.
Credit: @newflorygrl on Instagram
Pack it in small portions (1 serving) so that you do not reheat a big container and end up freezing it again. It's always best to only defrost any meal once for health and hygiene reasons. To make this easier, cook dishes that are easy to reheat and won't spoil so quickly.
7. Pack away after a potluck
Credit: @janellekoenig on Instagram
When doing a potluck for iftar, ensure that there are enough containers so everyone gets to bring home a portion of the leftovers. This helps to reduce wastage in your household as you can use that as part of your next meal.
[If you're not having a potluck, why not order in instead? Our list of 10 halal food deliveries will excite you!]
8. Invite people over
Credit: @food_bites_by_haj on Instagram
If you've realised that you have prepared a little too much for the family, call and invite guests over. Just make sure you inform your guests early before they start prepping for iftar!
9. Try creating new dishes from leftovers
Credit: @echleb on Instagram
If you are a fussy eater who doesn't like to eat 'yesterday's' food, whip up a new meal using leftovers. For example, if you have some roasted chicken left, turn it into a chicken sandwich or wrap and add in a couple of new ingredients to make it into a new meal.
Credit: @peachonomics on Instagram
To help get this started, cook meals that can be easily repurposed into staples such as soups or toppings for pasta and rice.
10. Avoid buying more food when there are leftovers at home
Some of us have the habit of hanging out at the coffee shop after terawih prayers because it's always fun to hang out with your friends for a round of supper ? If you have leftovers at home, just give yourself a gentle reminder to finish those first rather than forget about them until they spoil. You can invite your friends over for a quick bite if you have enough left over!
We hope that these tips will help you reduce your food wastage and even encourage you to help the less fortunate and share the excess food god has blessed you with. Some of the tips will even help you save money, which is important especially when Hari Raya is coming up and you have duit Raya to hand out ? We hope that these tips might eventually become common practices even after Ramadan has ended!