In February when the first case of coronavirus was recorded in Nigeria, most parts of the country saw its people panic buying groceries, foodstuffs, and other items. But weeks later, as pounds of beans and rice lay unused on shelves; many of us may be thinking “what am I going to do with all this food?”
Panic-buying like the type that can occur during a pandemic, can prompt people to purchase perishable items that they aren’t able to consume before they go bad, which can ultimately lead to food waste. At times like these, it is more important than ever to remember that food is there to be eaten, and reducing food waste and redistributing surplus should be our priorities.
With that in mind, it’s time to rethink our food habits. The pandemic provides a good opportunity to make the best of our food since we want to avoid frequent trips to the grocery store. Limiting trips to potentially crowded places like the grocery store can help minimize the spread of coronavirus and reduce food waste.
Below are some tips on making your food last for long and also reduces food waste.
This may not sound easy, but yet it is one of the most important things you can do. When you go food shopping, make sure you don’t buy too much food. This may mean going to the grocery store more than you wish to, but wasting food is worse than what it sounds like. If you live far away from the store or you hate shopping, you should be thoughtful and careful about what you purchase.
Plan out your meals, and make a detailed shopping list of the item you’ll need, and when you’re in the market, really stick to that list. This is easier said than done, but being disciplined is helpful.
You should also try to purchase locally sourced produce and other food
Save and eat leftovers
In the same vein, make sure you save uneaten food when you either cook too much or you get too much food at the restaurant. You can also label your leftovers so you can keep track of how long they’ve been in your fridge or freezer, and incorporate them into your daily or weekly routine.
“The beauty of leftover food is you don’t have to start from scratch for every meal. You already have something on hand that can be reincarnated into something new” - Mashable
Store food properly
Storing food correctly has the potential to make it last longer and also prevents it from going to waste. For example, did you know potatoes should ideally be stored in a dark cupboard in a cloth bag away from strong-smelling foods like onions? You should also take advantage of your freezer. It’s great to have fresh foods, but frozen vegetables and fruits are a great alternative, still very nutritious, and they keep longer. So if you’re on a tight budget due to coronavirus-related layoffs or other reasons, frozen produce might be a better choice.
You can also cook a lot of food at once and freeze it. This can reduce the amount of food you waste as you don’t have to worry about it going bad and makes for a quick meal when you don’t feel like cooking.
Keep track of what you throw away
Manage a waste log to keep an eye on what you’re throwing out, so you can prevent doing the same in the future. “You can even add currency signs to each food you throw away as that tends to get our attention” according to bloom.com. The other side is to keep track of what’s already in your fridge before you go shopping; that way, you won’t double-up on products and fail to use them before they go bad.
Share extra food with neighbors
If you find yourself with excess food that you won’t be able to cook in time before it goes bad, consider giving it to people in need or your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or immunocompromised as they are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. You can also donate scraps and other types of food to farms and companies to feed livestock.
In normal circumstances, more than one-third of all food produced globally is wasted or spoiled every year, but now more than ever, it is on all of us (Governments, communities, and individual households) to play our role in this uncertain time to keep our food out of landfills. We are always going to have some excess food, but having a process and creating good habits with our food can help the planet and support our whole community to access food at this challenging time.
How to cut food waste [Accessed from https://mashable.com/article/how-cut-food-waste-even-during-pandemic/ on 13th May 2020]
Four ways to reduce food waste during Coronavirus lockdown [Accessed from https://resource.co/article/four-ways-reduce-food-waste-during-coronavirus-lockdown on 13th May 2020]