On a human level, fasting is meant to give you a deeper sense of compassion with those less fortunate. We fast from dawn till sunset, but as the sun goes down we are allowed to eat and drink as we will. There are those in the world who don't have that luxury. They experience hunger, but do not have any food to break their fast. They feel thirsty, but have to walk for miles to get a drink of water. Fasting sort of lets you walk a day in their shoes, and that should motivate you to do something to help them and in the process feel grateful for the blessings you have.
For this Ramadan, we aim to motivate and help you to reduce food waste. Reports from MENA say that during the month of Ramadan, as much as one-fifth of all food bought (in some countries that percentage goes up to a whopping 50%) finds its way to the garbage bin without being consumed! A sad fact considering that this month is all about self-control, charity and helping the less fortunate. So how about we work together to change those sad numbers?
Today we will share our favorite tips and tricks that will hopefully help you to save time and reduce food waste in this holy month:
Planning is hands down the best way to save time, money and reduce food waste. If it is too much to plan meals for a whole month, break it down into weeks and set aside 10-20 minutes every week to plan out your meals using these easy tips:
- Start by checking what you have at home. Check your fridge and your pantry and plan your meals to use up what you have on hand before buying new supplies.
- Keep your favorite recipes organized: If you ask any mum, we bet she'll agree that: "What should I cook today?' is definitely one of the most asked and most hated questions. EVER! To avoid that dreaded question, try keeping your family's favorite recipes on a list on your fridge, in a folder in your kitchen, on your phone, or in any place where you can access them easily. This list is great to have on hand when you are staring at your open fridge door at 9 AM wondering what to cook today. It will also come in handy when you are tight on time and only have 1 hour to do your shopping for the week. You will buy fewer items and each will find its way into a recipe as opposed to haphazardly buying things that will go bad waiting for you to figure out a way to use them.
- Before buying an ingredient or pantry item, try to think of at least 3 ways to use it. A new bottle of exotic Asian sauce might look tempting at the supermarket, but less so when it sets in your pantry or fridge for 6 months after using a mere tablespoon of it for that one recipe that you wanted to try.
- You don't have to prepare everything from scratch: Meal planning does not mean that you have to build everything from the ground up. On the contrary, it means that you can wisely choose what to cook considering how much time you have on a particular day. Supermarket fresh chopped vegetables, frozen products, and Puck ready-made sauces can be a life saver on days when you know you will be late at work and will only get home 30 minutes before athaan.
- Account for leftovers in your plan. Check out our two-part series on how to use up leftovers in fun, creative and yummy ways. Check out part one here and part two here.
2. Be-friend your freezer
Your freezer is your meal planning BFF. Think outside the box (or inside the box in this case!) and try these tips for getting the best out of your ice box.
- When you make one of your family's favorite meals that freeze well (like lasagna or pot pie, for example), double the recipe and freeze one half. You can think of these as your emergency meals for when you get stuck in traffic on the way home or get surprise guests coming for iftar. All you have to do is pull the meal out of the fridge and into the oven, and you're good to go.
- Pasta sauce, falafel dough, hummus, your favorite pastries, samosas and qatayef. All are time consuming to prepare on a daily basis. Instead, set aside a day to prepare a big batch and store them in your freezer in labeled bags. This way they will last longer (less food waste! Yay!) and you will save time and money on a day-to-day basis.
3. Meal prep
Setting aside a day or even a few hours on the weekend to prep a few meals or ingredients can be a game changer in your daily life.
- Peel, wash and chop your vegetables – then blanch and freeze them. Hereafter, all that is left for you to do is to saute some onions, add your vegetable of choice, puck cooking cream and your favorite seasoning, and your creamy comforting soup is ready (think broccoli cream soup, carrot soup, mixed vegetable soup, cauliflower soup... just to name a few. The list goes on). Another way to go is to turn your prepared vegetables into a pot pie/quiche by combining your prepared veggies with ready-made puff pastry and Puck 4 cheese sauce. Three short cuts that transform iftar from a chore to a breeze.
- Cook a big batch of pasta on the weekend and then use your creativity, puck sauces and those frozen vegetables to create a new recipe every day.
- Speaking of pasta: Make a big batch of your favorite pasta and pizza sauces and freeze them (and bonus points if you prepare the pizza bases and freeze them, too). All you have to do after that is add your favorite toppings and Puck mozzarella and bake your creation.
- Marinate your chicken cutlets and freeze them. This way all you have to do is add Puck sauce and your favorite vegetables, cook or bake your chicken, and Iftar is served. Think chicken a la king, chicken pot pie, chicken casserole or chicken, vegetable and pasta bake. The PASTAbilities are endless
- Suhoor: Many people struggle with suhoor, as they want to prepare a nutritious meal that will keep them going till iftar, but at that same time they don't want to spend all night in the kitchen. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Prepare vegetable and egg muffins using your favorite vegetables, Puck cooking cream and a touch of mozzarella. You can customize the vegetables and seasonings to each of your family member's preference: We know what it's like to have one kid who hates broccoli, and another who can't live without it. Bake the muffins, allow them to cool and then freeze them. Then, all you have to do is heat them at suhoor.
- If you are into sandwiches for suhoor, try making a big batch over the weekend and freeze them (this is actually a great tip for school lunchboxes, too). One of our favorite toasties is the red white and green: sundried tomatoes, Puck mozzarella, and pesto. All you have to do for suhoor is pop them in the toaster and your melty, stretchy and irresistibly tasty suhoor is served.