No Zombies at the Dinner Table (and Other Ways to Save Food When Eating)


After we have finished a meal is one of the times when we are most likely to notice food waste; when we are scraping perfectly edible leftovers into the bin, that niggling feeling comes along to say “this doesn’t feel right”. Guilt should not make us immobile, though; rather it can be a positive motivator to do better next time! Here are some ideas for reducing (or, hopefully, eliminating) the food we throw away after meals.

One. Portion sizes

It is so easy, when a rumbling stomach is faced with a platter of tasty goodies, to take more than we can comfortably eat. This leads to food being left on plates that others will unlikely want to eat after it has been on someone else’s plate.

To solve this problem it’s best to take less than you think you’ll eat. Once you’ve eaten that, you can always return to the pot to get more. Most of the time, though, you’ll find you don’t need to.

Two. No zombies here

We know we should be conscious of the blessing of having food to eat whenever we need (or even want) it. Before starting to eat, we say bismillah (in Allah’s name). Have you thought about the benefits of taking time to say this and start eating slowly, though? It allows us to become more conscious of what we are eating. We feel more intensely its value in our lives when we take the time to notice how our bodies, perhaps tired or extra hungry after a long day, are filled with energy again so quickly once we start eating. We might consider what it would be like not to have access to food so easily. Also, very importantly, we become more aware of when our bodies are telling us we’ve had enough. This is crucial information when trying to avoid waste, because it means the next day we won’t take our food for granted and will take a smaller portion, in sha Allah.

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When one of you eats some food, let him say Bismillah, and if he forgets to do so at the beginning, let him say Bismillah fi awwalihi wa aakhirihi (In the name of Allah at the beginning and end).
Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, 1781

Three. Get in the kitchen

do-not-forbid-that-which-allah-has-made-permissibleIf you don’t cook your own meals, it’s time to change that. When you’ve seen what goes into producing a meal – the ingredients, the time, the thought and effort – then you will be more concerned about what happens to it. I’m not suggesting kicking everyone else out of the kitchen forever, but at least occasionally taking on the task of preparing the dinner will make a difference (and I’m sure no one will complain if they can have a few days off cooking every now and then).

Four. Prioritise

Perhaps there is some of yesterday’s dinner left over but not enough, so you whip up a side dish to go with it. Make sure the leftovers are finished before the fresh dish. You can reheat the new dish, but you don’t want to be reheating leftovers multiple times.

Do you have other ideas for saving food at the table? Share your tips in the comments.

Did that get you thinking?

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