Food & grocery hacks
When it comes to adulting, grocery shopping can be a surprisingly tricky affair to master. Especially with fresh produce, overestimate how much you’ll need and you run the risk of fruit and veggies spoiling before you get around to eating or cooking them. That’s why food & grocery hacks come in handy.
Whether you’re looking for an efficient way to utilise ingredients before they go bad, or seeking more bang for your buck by maximising every last bit of your groceries – even the parts that usually get tossed in the garbage – here are 8 ways to make full use of groceries to reduce food wastage.
1. Keep potato skins and oven-bake with customisable fillings
Whether you’re making mashed potatoes or boiling potato chunks for soup, don’t let those precious potato skins go in the trash. They serve as brilliant vessels for whichever fillings you want to customise, with the leftover morsels of potato imparting a familiar flavour and carby texture.
Top them with your choice of meat bits, veggies, sauces, and of course a hefty layer of cheese so it can melt and bubble in the oven. Often charged a pretty penny as restaurant appetisers, who would’ve thought these atas-looking treats are made from pieces that people usually discard!
2. Use overripe bananas to bake desserts or blend into smoothies
Bananas are one of those sneaky produce types which take a while to ripen…then boom. All of a sudden they’re brown, mushy and on their way to rotting. Beneath those spotted, perhaps even bruised peels lie a naturally sweet and moist ingredient to create effortless sweet treats, though.
Sift through any banana bread recipe and they’d advise for you to use bananas that are slightly overripe, as this is the prime state of the fruit to be used in baking.
For smoothie fans, quit getting overcharged by drink stores and blend your own. The natural sweetness of bananas means you won’t have to add in syrup, giving you a healthier homemade version you’re free to customise.
3. Create candied orange or lemon peels for a chewy sweet treat
If you find yourself reaching out for sweets like candies and chocolate on the regular, here’s a way to stave those sugar cravings while getting some nutrients in. Instead of chucking your orange or lemon rinds, slice them into thin strips to create your very own candied peels.
The process is simple: blanch the rinds to get rid of bitterness, steep them in a boiling mixture of sugar and syrup until soft, pat them dry and coat with sugar, and leave them in the open to dry completely. The result will be a chewy, gummy-like snack which is 100% natural and tastes refreshingly citrusy.
4. Air-fry excess veggies for sweet potato, carrot and cabbage chips
We’ve all been there – stocking up on too much vegetables but not being able to use them in time, and now they’re sitting in the fridge on the verge of rotting. Give them a new lease of life by putting them in an air-fryer and transforming them into crispy, healthier option snacks!
The perk of air-frying is that you don’t need to submerge the ingredients into fats and oil. Simply place your desired vegetables in – we recommend thinly sliced sweet potatoes, carrots, and cabbage leaves – let the air-fryer crisp them up, and finish with a light dusting of salt, or your preferred seasoning mix.
Once you get the hang of it, experiment with other veggies like eggplant and zucchini discs, or make your own bougie kale chips.
5. Make pre-seasoned fried rice with instant cup noodles
Image adapted from: Eatbook
Many of us have made the folly of cooking way too much rice, and it’s not ideal to keep it refrigerated for too long lest it hardens and becomes inedible. Fried rice is a go-to for repurposing stale rice, but you may be intimidated by the culinary skills required. Here’s where this viral trend comes in: pre-seasoned fried rice using instant cup noodles.
In a genius marriage of rice and noodles, the instant cup noodle already comes with its own seasoning packet and dry garnishes. All you have to do is dump all the ingredients together in a pan and there you have it, a flavour-packed carbo-load that saves you from throwing away perfectly good rice.
Check out Eatbook’s video for the full recipe and guided walk-through.
6. Scrape skin off ginger with a spoon instead of slicing with a knife
Image credit: Simply Recipes
Ginger is a flavour powerhouse, whether you’re using it to spice up a savoury dish, make a nourishing dessert or just brewing some ginger tea to soothe your throat. That said, getting rid of the skin by slicing at angles with a knife leads to wasted portions here and there, which all add up.
The good news is, ginger skin can easily be scraped away using a regular metal spoon. Not only does it preserve more flesh to use that’s not attached to the cut off skin, this safe and simple method is a fun way for kids to help out in the kitchen. Just make sure they don’t rub their eyes before thoroughly washing their hands!
7. Collect the unused ends of vegetables to make stock
Image credit: Pinterest
The end portions of veggies like carrots and celery are often excluded as ingredients, due to their irregular shapes which may be unsightly on your dinner plate. These nubs may not be the most picture perfect, but they still yield a tonne of flavour.
Steep them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of hours to create your own vegetable stock. You’ll save money on stock cubes while avoiding any artificial nasties and preservatives that may be used in the manufacturing process. This rich, meat-free and au naturel stock will boast a sweet flavour base, and you’ll know exactly what went into it.
8. Use the white portion of spring onions as an aromatic
Image credit: Pinterest
Spring onions are a versatile staple, and not just in Asian cuisines. Often sprinkled as a garnish to add beautiful touches of green, a little goes a long way in terms of adding texture and bursts of flavour to any dish you’re whipping up.
The white portion is usually chopped off because it’s a tad too thick and pungent compared to its green and leafy counterpart. Hold onto it though, as this secret weapon can actually be used as an aromatic to jazz up plain cooking oil. Fry the stalks in oil to release a deep fragrance, instantly elevating the flavour profile of whatever food you toss in next.
Food and grocery hacks to reduce food wastage in Singapore
According to the National Environment Agency, Singapore generated roughly 744 million kilograms of food waste in 2019 alone. To put that gargantuan figure into perspective, it’s about 2 bowls of rice per person, per day. Shocking as these stats might be, the good news is that we can all play a part in reducing food wastage.
It’s important to only buy and order what we need, and try to fully utilise all parts of the ingredients through clever hacks and alternative uses. Coupled with these food and grocery hacks, we’ll be able to reduce the amount of food that would otherwise end up in the trash.
Discover other ways of contributing to our country’s Towards Zero Waste movement by partaking in Youth for the Environment Day 2020. The platform allows youth of Singapore to come together in championing environmental initiatives, both on a local and global front.