What to do with expiring food


expiring food diy mask

Managing our own household kitchen is part and parcel of adulting. But let’s admit it – most of us didn’t grow up heeding our parents’ wise ways of managing food. Sometimes we end up getting more groceries than we need, or forgetting to quickly consume perishables like milk and yoghurt. Whatever the reason, the result is a lot of expiring food.

Food wastage is a huge problem which even a small country like Singapore faces. So in the spirit of going greener, here are a few easy ways you can recycle expiring food that would make even Greta Thunberg proud.

Check out our other go-green articles here:


Milk


1. Water your plants and give them a nutrient boost with expired milk


Milk is a great source of calcium which plants need to thrive, just like us humans. If you notice your little green friends looking a little droopier and less green, try watering them with some diluted milk.

Watering plants with milk
Image adapted from: @trung18tuoi

Mix a 50:50 ratio of your expired milk with water before either pouring the solution directly into the soil of your potted plants, or spraying it onto the leaves. If you spray the milk solution, check your leaves after half an hour to make sure the leaves have absorbed it. Wipe away any excess because the residue can cause fungal issues.

You can use up milk that’s up to 5-7 days past the expiry date. Most kinds of milk can be used, including fresh, powdered, and even evaporated. That said, try to avoid using whole and skim milk because these can cause problems like odours and rotting.


2. Make Hong Kong steamed egg pudding for dessert


Egg pudding
Image credit: @myhoooa

If your milk hasn’t spoiled yet but you have way too much to finish before it does turn sour, use it to make your very own Hong Kong steamed egg pudding dessert. Here’s a quick step-by-step tutorial by Leslie Koh:

  1. Heat up 400ml of your expiring milk in slow heat
  2. When it starts to boil, remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
  3. Add 4 egg whites, which is one egg white for every 100ml.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of white sugar – half a tablespoon for every 100ml.
  5. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Steam for 10 minutes and then leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or cover with cling wrap and refrigerate to serve cold.

Voila – your very own steamed egg dessert or milk egg pudding!


3. Use expired milk to clean silver jewellery and restore shine


Expiring food: Milk cleaning silver
Image credit: @agasawinska

Another practical way to use your expired milk is to clean silver. It’s not a common cleaning hack which homeowners typically know, but it sure is hella useful.

Your silver jewellery becomes dull and tarnished over time, because the surface reacts with sulphur in the air creating that unsightly coating.

To bring out the beautiful shine of your jewellery again, just mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar with enough milk to fill a cup, and soak your silvers for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, rinse thoroughly with or without detergent soap, and then buff dry with a soft cloth to really bring out that polished glow.


Mayonnaise


4. Use expired mayo to oil squeaky metal joints and hinges


Mayonnaise
Image credit: @dad_bod_food_junkie

We all have that one cabinet that creaks way too loud in the middle of the night, making known to everyone in the household that we’re having a midnight snack.

To get rid of those squeaky hinges, apply some about-to-expire mayo on the problem door hinge, open and close it a few times to work it in, then wipe it off. There you go – hinges as silent as the night.


5. Polish and remove water marks from wooden furniture with mayo


Watermarked woodImage credit: Alvy Rose

As a child, I never thought twice about putting cold drinks on my mother’s precious wooden coffee tables, which often led to an hour of nagging. For those not sure what the problem is, water drying on wooden furniture leaves white stains that, alas, can’t be scrubbed away with more water.

To get rid of those pesky water marks, just take a little mayo to cover the spot and leave it for an hour. Afterwards, wipe it with a damp cloth, buff dry, and the surface will look as good as new.


Coffee


6. Use expired coffee to DIY an anti-cellulite body scrub


Coffee scrub
Image credit: @coffeescrubmin

Many of us have cellulite, which may stop us from confidently wearing booty shorts or donning a bikini at the beach. If you want to reduce their appearance, try using a coffee scrub.

Cellulite forms because there isn’t enough blood circulation in the area. The caffeine in the coffee and pressure from massaging can alleviate this and increase collagen production for reduced cellulite.

To make this scrub, mix a cup of coffee grounds, 3 tablespoons of sugar to help with exfoliation, and 6 tablespoons of coconut oil. In the shower, gently massage the coffee scrub on the areas with cellulite – usually the butt and thighs – and rinse. Do this no more than once or twice a week as exfoliating too much can damage your skin!


Avocado


7. Hair mask


Expiring food: Avocado hair mask
Image credit: @anumk_mua

It’s often hard to tell when an avocado is ripe and ready to be spread on toast. When we wait too long, they’re no longer good to eat and we end up throwing them away. Instead of chucking spoiled avocados in the bin and inadvertently wasting money, turn them into a homemade hair mask for soft, shiny post-salon hair.

Avocados are full of antioxidants, natural oils, amino acids, and vitamins that can help you achieve shiny, healthy-looking hair. Here’s how to make a cheap avocado hair mask at home:

  1. Mash an avocado with 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil until there are no lumps.
  2. Apply to hair and scalp, focusing on tips.
  3. Cover with a shower cap and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Rinse in the shower, before using shampoo and condition as per normal.

We recommend letting your hair air dry since blow-drying your hair can cause further damage.


Yoghurt


8. Facial


Expiring food: Yoghurt face mask
Image credit: @wanderlust_in_asia

When it comes to yoghurt, I’m a lot like Terrence “Terry Loves Yoghurt” Jeffords. But sometimes I forget that I still have 1 or 2 stray cups of yoghurt left in my fridge and, next thing I know, they’re past the expiration date. An easy recycling solution is to turn inedible yoghurt into a face mask.

Yoghurt is just about the perfect natural face mask. It’s a natural exfoliant, is full of probiotics to clear your pores of impurities, and has lactic acid that is found in a lot of skincare products.

Some say the older and smellier the yoghurt, the better. But not everyone can stand the stench, so we would recommend using yoghurt 2-5 days past the expiry date. For that dewy, lit-from-within skin, apply a thin layer on your face, wait 10-15 minutes or until it dries, then rinse. Do your skincare as per normal and you’re good to go.


Rotten fruits and vegetables


9. Compost and make your own fertiliser 


Composting expiring foods
Image credits: @els_meus_cucs, @pot_to_pot

Vegetables are another type of perishable food which often goes bad before we have a chance to make full use of them. Instead of just tossing them out with your rubbish, try composting them instead to add to potted plants and home gardens.

Composting is basically putting organic waste like spoiled fruits and vegetables together to decompose naturally. The product of this is humus – not to be confused with the Mediterranean dip, hummus – which is rich in nutrients and super beneficial for plants. Follow these steps to incorporate composting into your home:

  1. Have a small bin or pail in your kitchen with a lid
  2. Drill holes around your bin for air circulation and to allow for aerobic composting which has less odour.
  3. Collect your rotten vegetables, fruits, and even eggshells and old coffee, and throw them all together in your pail. You can add dry leaves and newspapers too.
  4. Add water until moist and mix well.
  5. Turn the compost pile every week to ensure it stays moist.
  6. Make sure to keep the bin in a warm area as heat is needed to kill bacteria in the compost.

This whole process takes about 3-6 months before you get the desired brown, crumbly, soil-like humus. The duration takes a while, but you’re putting all that potential food waste to good use anyway. And think of all the wonders it’ll do for your plants.


Solutions for expiring food


You don’t always have to throw out expiring food when you can’t eat it anymore. They just end up incinerated or in a landfill, which isn’t environmentally friendly and burns a hole in your pocket over time.

So to make the earth just a little bit greener while saving yourself some moolah, adopt some of these 9 solutions to reuse and recycle expiring food instead of throwing them out.