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Mindful planning can reduce food wastage in kitchen, say experts

Kitchen has become the busiest place in many households with people experimenting with new cuisines and recipes. But the mindless cooking has led to a serious concern about food wastage and the best way to tackle this is by embracing zero-waste cooking.

Mindful planning can reduce food wastage in kitchen, say experts
Shanthi Ramachandran and Uma Raghuraman


Author of the book My Genius Lunch Box, Uma Raghuraman opines that one of the good things about lockdown is that people have started cooking at home. “Some are expert cooks and they know how to prepare meals with less or zero wastage. But those who are new to the kitchen tend to waste a huge quantity of food. The first step is to learn to manage the quantity while cooking. And for this, you can follow recipes in which the exact amount of ingredients are mentioned. If you are not keen on following any recipes, then you have to make notes of quantity that you use. After a few days of practice, you will become an expert. In some cases, zero-waste cooking might not be possible. But everyone can minimalise waste while cooking,” says Uma.

She suggests to make chutneys, pickles and store them for a long time. “You can even make different types of podis and keep. Such podis can be used with any dish. Avoid hoarding of vegetables in the fridge. It is better to have monthly planning before buying vegetables and fruits. Once you are used to cooking, you will learn small tricks on how to reduce food wastage. For eg, store-bought curry leaves will dry soon. So, after washing and drying the leaves, heat some coconut oil and fry the leaves in it. Store this fried leaves — it will last for a few days. You can use the same oil for cooking. If you buy extra veggies or fruits, make pickles, jams and sauces. Such food items have a longer shelf life,” she adds.

Chennai-based home chef Shanthi Ramachandran says that after the pandemic she started to cook in minimum quantity to avoid food wastage. “We get plenty of vegetables and fruits from roadside vendors but I make it a point to buy required vegetables once in three days instead of dumping my fridge with vegetables for a week. However, you preserve them some vegetables tend to perish quickly. Once or twice a week, you can cook with pulses and legumes, they are healthy as well. I strongly recommend that everyone should have a vegetable garden at home — either at a terrace, balcony or backyard. At my small terrace garden, I grow herbs, greens like mint leaves, ajwain leaves (known as karpooravalli leaves), spinach, mudakathan keerai (balloon vines), methi leaves, sorrel greens, drumstick leaves, lemon leaves, adamant creeper, etc. The herbs when used with pepper, cumin and turmeric will act as a wonderful immunity booster,” she shares.

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