With fuel prices set to hit record highs in April, there has never been a more crucial time for South Africans to tighten their already strained purse strings. The knock-on effect is going to influence all aspects of household budgets, but particularly the cost of groceries.
For many singletons living alone, or smaller households in general, cooking can result in quite a bit of wasted food – and hard earned money. According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an estimated 10.3 million tonnes of edible food ends up being thrown away each year. Planning, prepping, portioning and packing in the best way can be quite tricky when it’s not for a big household, but it is possible with a few smart strategies.
Sipamandla Manqele, Founder of Local Village Foods, shares 7 tips to help single households create properly portioned, healthy and delicious meals without the waste.
1. Planning properly for one
This is the most important part of ensuring no-waste meal times. In order to see what is going to waste you first need a clear picture of what is being wasted and why. This will help you to better adjust your habits and be more mindful when shopping. Have a shopping strategy and shop more often. If you shop weekly instead of monthly, for example, this will stop food being wasted due to expiry dates. Keep a quick journal of what you have bought and what you have used so that you can start to see patterns and plan accordingly.
2. It’s all in the prep
Cooking a full meal for one is tough. But if you are making the effort, a great way to avoid wastage is to go all in, cook up a storm and then portion into meals that can be easily frozen. These can then be simply interchanged by adding a few fresh ingredients when you reheat them.
3. Avoid foods affected by the rising costs of living
Do some research into foods that have a minimum carbon footprint – those that don’t have large logistics costs. Try buying local or even shifting your diet to include lots of local fresh vegetables and grains that could help reduce the cost of your meals and which can be bought quickly and conveniently.
4. Get your friends involved!
It is so much cheaper to buy in bulk. Consider starting a ‘grocery club’ with some of your single friends and then split the items and save. That way you can change up the weekly variety without breaking the bank or having wastage.
Invest in proper storage containers
Leftovers are likely to go to waste if not stored properly. This also applies to some of your pantry staples. Get yourself some good quality containers that you can stack in the grocery cupboard, freeze in a flash and use to take food to work.
5. If you can’t use an ingredient for more than two meals, avoid it
This one takes some getting used to, especially if you think an ingredient will really make your meal. But if you can only think of one recipe to something it in and you buy a whole bag, you’re setting yourself up for wastage. Start thinking about flexibility of ingredients and take your lead from that.
6. Establish some go-to hack meals
Because of the way food is packaged, you can sometimes be left with random amounts of ingredients when you’re only cooking for one (especially if you’re following a family-sized recipe). This is where it’s good to have some go-to “hack” meals or snacks in mind. A quick mix-n-match rice bowl, or using your left over greens in a smoothie, a beautiful pesto or a simple soup is the perfect way to maximise on your leftovers without having to spend much time thinking about what to do with them.
With a little bit of fore thought, planning and imagination, you will be surprised at how much you can cut down on food wastage. Being mindful of food waste in your own home is the first step in addressing this growing problem, and keeping household budgets under control.
Photography: Sarah Chai (Pexels)</strong