Did you know: On a normal day, Malaysians discard roughly 3,000 tonnes of food, all of which is still fit for consumption!
The holy month of Ramadan has begun and millions of Malaysians are counting the days to Hari Raya Aidilfitri. While fasting and feasting are the cornerstones of the Ramadan festivities, it also leads to major food wastage throughout the country.
In 2015, a government agency dealing with solid waste, Solid Waste And Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) revealed that roughly 270,000 tonnes of food goes to waste during the Ramadan month, with 9,000 tonnes being thrown away on a daily basis.
To put things in context, this wasted food:
1. Costs RM9 billion
2. Can feed more than 180 million people
3. When piled up high, it is 30 times the height of the Petronas Twin Towers!
Are you shocked, yet? That is not the extent of it – On a normal day, Malaysians discard of 3,000 tonnes of food that is still fit for consumption. You are basically burning money, people.
SWCorp’s report also said that since Malaysians love their food so much, they tend to order or buy more than they can consume, which leads to overspending and other health-related issues.
When the extra food is disposed of improperly, it may end up in the drains that flow into our rivers. This doesn’t only pollute our rivers but also clogs them, which in turn increases flood risks.
Because of this, the Ramadan Hijau campaign was introduced last year by the Selangor Drainage and Irrigation department, where it advocated minimising of food wastage by encouraging Malaysians to:
- Replace disposable plastic bags with recyclable and reusable food containers.
- Consume food responsibly during Ramadan and the Hari Raya celebrations.
Do your part as a consumer and say no to plastic bags!
Having said that, we don’t have to wait around for such campaigns to start purchasing and eating food responsibly. One should always practise moderation, which goes a long way in environmental conversation as well as curbing overspending and mitigating health issues like obesity.
Here are four simple tips to reduce food wastage during the holy month of Ramadan and how to shop smartly at your local Ramadan or “buka puasa” bazaar. After all, Hari Raya is all about being grateful for what we have.
1. Plan your meals and stick to a budget
It will be easier to control how much you spend on food when you plan your meals in advance, whether you want to cook at home or buy your food at a bazaar. Make sure you know what to get beforehand and have a budget in mind.
If you’re single, a budget of RM10-RM20 a day may be enough for buka puasa and sahur. For those with a family, a daily allocation of RM20-RM30 is recommended instead. Try to limit your purchase to 2-3 items per day. The easiest way to implement this is by purchasing something that everyone will enjoy, like nasi campur berlauk, for instance.
The following table is an example of what you can get at a Ramadan bazaar with a small budget (RM10-RM20 per day):
|RAMADAN MEAL PLAN||Food Item||Price (RM)|
|Mee hoon soup||RM3.50/bowl|
|Day 2||Tepung pelita||50 cents/piece|
|Day 3||Kuih talam||60 cents/piece|
|Day 4||Kuih lapis||40 cents/piece|
|Tomato rice + ayam masak merah||RM5.00/set|
|Day 5||Kuih talam berlauk||RM1.00/piece|
|Day 6||Bingka gandum||50 cents/piece|
|Day 7||Popia basah||80 cents/piece|
|White rice + ayam percik||RM5.00/set|
2. Create a shopping list and shop smart
You’ll have a shopping list once you’ve planned your Ramadan meals. Remember to stick to your budget based on your lifestyle.
These are some more tips to shop smart and minimise food wastage:
Don’t bring your kids along
Especially those with small children. It might be a bad idea to bring them along to the bazaars as they could distract you from buying only what you need.
Buy grilled food or anything that’s properly packaged
Grilled food or foods that have been properly packaged tend to last longer (a day or two). If you can’t finish them, you can always reheat them for the next day.
Buy healthy and nutritious food
To save on healthcare in your golden years, start eating healthy and nutritious food. Avoid food items that are oily, fatty, and high in sugar or salt content. Most importantly, wholesome food makes you feel more satiated, hence you would not need to purchase as much food!
Get to the Ramadan bazaar early
Most bazaars would open at 4 pm or 4.30 pm. If possible, try to get there as early as you can as it won’t be too crowded. You will find it easier to get the items you need and avoid shopping under pressure, which could also lead to overspending.
#3 ‘Buka Puasa’ at a mosque
If it’s too late for you to get your food at a Pasar Ramadan, another alternative for buka puasa is to break your fast at a mosque. A good majority of mosques in Malaysia do serve free iftar meals for their visitors.
#4 Don’t miss the ‘moreh’ at mosques
In addition to the free iftar meals, many mosques also serve a ‘moreh’ or refreshments after the Tarawih (evening) prayers. You can expect sweet desserts like kuih lapis or even savoury snacks like murtabak and popiah. Sometimes, you can even bring them home. This would be perfect if you haven’t bought the food for sahur yet.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Ramadan!
*This article was written by Dayana Sobri and was first published as 4 Tips to Reduce Wastage During Ramadan and Shop Smart at a Pasar Ramadan on bbazaar.my