I Figured Out The Perfect System to Stop Food Waste

What use is buying ingredients to cook at home if you, the average Malaysian household, throw away 0.5-0.8kg of uneaten food per day? I thought you wanted to save money, and eat healthier at the same time?

I’m going to spare you the lecture, because honestly I’m not your mom, even if the food waste problem in Malaysia does piss me off a bit. Do you even know how many people are starving as we speak-

And we dare to say we are a food nation

Food waste is such a stupid problem. I thought we have advanced enough as a society to solve this but the fact that we HAVEN’T, UGH

The System I Use to Stop Food Waste in My House

I’m not saying my system is perfect, but it damn near is – I haven’t thrown anything* out since I implemented it back in January 2020. And by doing so, I have stretched my groceries budget further, too.

(okay, I do throw out wilted/spoiled parts of vegetables and other food items once in a while, maybe once every two/three weeks or so).

The solution: use this note-keeping system in your notebook

stop food waste

Write down on the left-hand side: ALL your groceries, sorted by categories. You can make your own, but mine is:

  • Fruits/Veges
  • Carbs/Grains
  • Protein
  • Dairy
  • Flavour
  • Pantry

Write down on the right-hand side:

  • Foods you cooked with the ingredients
  • Recipes you want to make
  • Ingredients you need to use up
  • Ingredients you need to buy to complete a recipe

The system is easy enough to use:

  • List out all your ingredients on the left-hand side
  • Cross em out as you use them up
  • Write out the meals you made and want to make

The beauty of this system

Listen, yo,

#1 – You never forget what ingredient you already have

One of the best reason to use this system is you’ll always know what ingredients you already have, instead of buying more of it at the supermarket, ‘in case we’ve ran out’.

#2 – You can quickly scan your remaining ingredients and figure out what recipes you can make with them

You can ‘cook intuitively’ by looking at your remaining ingredients and figure out creative ways to cook them, or use websites like Supercook.com to help you find recipes using the exact ingredients you have left.

food waste in malaysia

And if anything, leftover ingredients can always find their homes in fried rice and omelettes.

#3 – You can remind yourself to use up an ingredient/meal

The ‘to use up’ column is created precisely for this reason. Some ingredients naturally expire faster than others, and writing it down really helps to remind you to use it up sooner rather than later.

#4 – It works for people who plan meals by ingredients, rather than plan meals by recipes

One of the more common food-budgeting advice is to plan meals in advance, and only buy the ingredients to make those meals. For example, here’s how Financial Mak‘s meal plan looks like:

I’ve never really liked this method. My life is so boring that I like the excitement of , ‘oooh! I wonder what I am going to have today!’ during meal hours. I also love the grocery -shopping experience: finding fresh and interesting ingredients, and then plan my meals around those ingredients.

(Another pro: I buy ingredients that are on sale!)

#6 – It’s so easy to start

I don’t need another app, or another tracker. Just a fresh, new page in my notebook. And WHO doesn’t have a spare notebook lying around?

I’m really enjoying the process of crossing out ingredients. Visually, it tells me when I should plan my next grocery shopping trip as well: if most of the fruits/veges are crossed out, then its time for a trip!

How do you stop food waste in your household?

So I’ve shared my system. This system is perfect… for *me*. Obviously, that sample size is way too small to claim overall superiority. I wonder what system do YOU use to tackle the food waste problem in your home? Let me know your tips, tricks and hacks in the comments section!

Related – my other groceries/food-related articles:

 

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6 comments

  1. For now, someone in the household will need to finish up the leftover in the fridge, even when a new meal is cooked.

    Throwing out whole ingredients if trying to salvage good parts leaves only a puny bunch. Otherwise, remove the rotten parts of a vege and salvage the rest into bite-size cubes. Easier storage and efficient cooling. Why I don’t cut em up siap-siap as soon as returning from pasar? It is just too tiring.

    Cooking only consumable amount of rice. I would rather be tired of cooking rice over and over again, rather than feeling the pain of needing to throw out bad rice yang banyak.

    That’s all for now

    1. Thanks for sharing your tips here, ayidun 🙂

      Lol @ ‘someone in the household will need to finish up the leftover in the fridge, even when a new meal is cooked.’ That person better take their fitness seriously because if not, habits LOL

  2. I cook for myself, so usually I cook same things again and again using same ingredients. For example, this week, i will cook chicken soup for lunch and dinner until i finish all perishable ingredients. 60% of my vegetables are frozen ones (brocollies and cauliflowers). I never throw away any food by using this system. Boring i know haha.

    1. Embrace the ordinary is my mantra. Not ALL parts of life have to be exciting haha. If it works, and the money saved can bring other types of joy (that you enjoy), then go for it!

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