1. Trim or juice “ugly” fruit and vegetables
If you happen to let some fruit or vegetables get old, you may find some bruising or partial wilting. In almost every instance, eating these “ugly” fruit and vegetables pose zero health risk to you and your loved ones. That doesn’t mean you’ll have to force yourself to eat the dark patches on a banana (gross!). Instead, just trim away the disagreeable spots or – for vegetables, any yellowed leaves – and you’re good to go.
Don’t forget there are many other ways you can use the “good” bits of old fruit and vegetables. The appearance of an oddly shaped onion or a discoloured tomato will hardly matter if you’re going to cook them down into your famous pasta sauce. Neither will less-than-perfectly-round plums or pears, if you’re planning to make jam.
And when all else fails, there’s always juicing. Suddenly, all those sad, mushy apples and grapes can once again be enjoyed as a refreshing and healthy treat.
2. Give “expired” food a second chance
Here’s something that might come as a bit of a shock: expiry dates on produce effectively mean nothing – in terms of food safety.
It turns out that expiry dates (aka “sell by”, “use by”, “best before” or “expiration date”) all evolved as a means to signal to grocers when to rotate their stock. (Basically, they indicate when the supermarkets should slash prices, so as to clear stock and make way for more.) They were never meant to be deciphered by consumers.
This wouldn’t be such a problem but for the fact that food waste not only comes from perishables, but even non-perishables such as canned food get thrown away regularly in Singapore.
That “use by” date printed on your carton of milk is more of a suggestion, that you might enjoy optimal flavour and freshness. It does not mean that your packet of cow squeezings will suddenly turn into poison at the stroke of midnight.
So the next time you encounter a can of peaches that are a little “overage”, resist the temptation to chuck it down the chute while holding back tears of betrayal. Instead, go on and crack it open, then have a look, a whiff and a little nibble. If it look, smells and tastes good, you’ll be just fine.
3. Get used to ordering twice at restaurants
When we sit down and order, we are hungry and ready to eat. This causes us to order more food, and become more willing to shell out for overpriced items such as appetisers and drinks. Restaurants know this; that’s why waiters always prompt you on everything from drinks to dessert.
The next time, try this: On the first round, order the mains each person wants to eat. And maybe an appetizer or two to share (but only if it’s to die for). Leave dessert and drinks to the second round – you can always ask for water if you need sips in between.
Once your hunger has been satisfied, you’ll find you don’t really need that brownie or soda after all. This way, you’ll save money, avoid wasting food (you might subconsciously not finish your meal just to make space for dessert) and give yourself the freedom to go to that really nice cafe instead.
4. Pack leftovers... and actually eat them
Some of us get tripped up when we order food at restaurants, often ending up with too much food that we valiantly bring home in a doggy bag, only for it to be chucked into the back of the fridge till the end of time. Always label your leftovers and make sure to consume them as early as possible. You’ll be amazed at how much money you can save!