Early this year, there was news about food wastage in Singapore that states 2 years ago, 790,000 tonnes of food waste generated in Singapore and less than 15 per cent being recycled. And this amount will set to increase when the country continues to prosper and grow in population each year. Through changes in old way of life only will it saves our only land fill in Singapore from running out of space. But there are lot more need to be done.
For example like myself. Ever since having my own kitchen, I look forward to supermarket trips because if I see interesting cooking or baking ingredients, I will not hesitate to buy even not knowing what to do with it. Same goes to my husband. Gradually, it became a frequent activity every week and soon my pantry is starting to fill up with lots of stuff as days goes by. Some expired without any use and others are used occasionally because of my weekend cooking. Being a miser, I feel the pinch even if it was bought at discounts and throwing away makes me feel even worse.
After some time, I reflected on this issue and determined to do something about it. So I started with cutting down on supermarket trips and then a series of things necessary to cut down on such wastage. And with the existing pantry supply and some fresh produces bought at $5 from traditional market, I present you my 7 simple and common recipes.
Breakfast – Porridge
It is a known fact that Breakfast is the important meal of the day as it gives us the energy to start in proper. Whether is a light or heavy breakfast, so long as we eat right. So this is our favouriteweekend breakfast, a bowl of porridge along with a plate of fried vermicelli or noodles. It was inspired by Hong Kong drama and no doubt keeps you feeling full even till tea time in the afternoon. Actually whenever we go for this option is because I’m too lazy to buy breakfast from outside though convenience and also in an effort to clear the food items in my kitchen pantry instead of idling in the cabinet till expiry. And this time,I decided to up the game by making some pork meat balls instead of the usual way of cooking with a can of braised peanuts or pickled lettuce.
Pork Meat Balls Instruction: Season the fresh minced pork with salt, pepper and sesame oil. Mix well with chopped spring onions. Shape them round and place in a plate. Cover with cling wrap and put in fridge overnight before use.
Porridge Instruction: Grind half a cup of rice grain and boil with 500ml of water and 170g of 1 can of braised peanuts. Stir as and when to prevent sticking on the pot. When almost done, start adding half a chicken stock cube and mix till it melts. Lastly the pork meat balls and off the heat when it is cooked. Top the bowl of porridge of spring onions, pepper and sesame oil. Crack an egg into it and mix well with the porridge while it is still hot. Serve.
Tips:You can buy pre-made pack of dough fritters to air-fry at 180° for 8-10 minutes or those ready-to-eat at hawker centres. Alternatively,eat like the Koreans with seaweed.
Lunch– Claypot Rice
Of course this is cooked using rice cooker which is a healthier, convenience and appetizing even without the slightly charred rice to add a little crispy bite. The most important factor to a fragrance Claypot Rice will be the dark soya sauce used and the frying of dry shrimps. So if you lack of any one ingredients, it doesn’t matter. And add a vegetable dish to balance up your meal. Perfect for two persons to enjoy!
Instruction: Marinate the chicken strips with dark soya sauce and put overnight in the fridge. Cut Chinese sausage with membrane removed. Soak dry shrimps in water. Slice Chinese mushrooms. Get ready a cup of basmati rice to 1.5 cup of water in the rice cooker. Start by frying Chinese sausage without oil and set aside. Using the oil from sausage, fry the dry shrimps till fragrance and set aside. Stir fry the chicken till almost cooked and put into the rice cooker together with the rest of the ingredients mentioned. Let it cook according to the rice cooker instruction. When it is done, check on the colour. If it is not dark enough, add according to your preference. Mix well and serve.
Tips: If chicken is not available, choose alternatives like lean pork slices which I have tried before. Remember to marinate.
Brunch – Pad Thai
Because this is a breakfast and lunch in one, I will prefer something that is delectable to start the day rather than the usual brunch menu.SinceI have Pad Thai sauce kit in my pantry that contains everything needed for the meal, I go for a change than the norm. Such kits are usefulbecause it gives home cooks the convenience anda confidence boost for amateur cooks in their cooking. However, please note that when using sauce kits, the taste may differ with individuals because of the preference between a light or heavy taste. For me, this is on the savoury side. So whenever you cook, do adjust the amount of sauces or herbs according to your palate or add other items when preferred.
Instruction: Put 150g rice noodles to boil till soft, drain and set aside. In the pan, heat oil to fry shrimp, chicken or pork (whatever is preferred) and set aside. Fry the noodles with the existing oil with 2 tbsp of water. Add Pad Thai paste and fish sauce and mix well then set aside. Fry 2 beaten eggs in scrambled egg style, add in lean pork slices, noodles, fried onion and mix well to serve. You may want to add some chilli sauce to mix with the noodles before turning off the heat. Then topped with chopped spring onion, fried onion (optional) or drizzle of chilli sauce.
Note: I forgo the chopped peanuts, lime and chilli powder from the cooking because I use whatever is available. But it tastes almost like those served in Thai restaurants.
Herbal Tea Time – Sugar Cane and Arrow Roots
The weather is driving everyone mad and rather than having a nice brew of black or green tea for your afternoon, a better choice will be a cup of nice herbal tea to cool us down. A pre-packed Sugar Cane and Arrow Roots is available at chinese medicinal halls or supermarkets and is cheap and convenient because all we need to do is put in the water to boil. As you boil longer, the natural sweetness will come out on its own from sugar canes and probably, the dried carrots. No need for rock sugar cubes. If not, is going to be too sweet and it will overwhelm the taste of sugar cane.
Instruction: In the pot, put 1.5 litres of water and the herbal pack to boil for at least 45 minutes. In the midst of boiling, check if the water is turning yellow and taste it at the same time. If the level of sweetness suit your palate, turn off the heat and serve warm.
Tips:You can boil for another 2 rounds with 800 to 900ml of water each to ‘force’ out the sweetness till the taste fades off. And keep for consumption later in the day or over a few days but chilled it.
Tea Time – Salad Bun
Not exactly salad but is more of crabsticks mayonaise. Instead of hotdog or luncheon meat buns, opt for a change once awhile. Made the bun dough with breadmaker for convenience. And for better texture, the dough was proofed overnight. Shaped and baked the following day. The stuffing was freshly made. It was pretty easy and a little healthy because only 1 spoonful of mayonaise is used. The end product is kind of bland for the bun but the stuffing is the saving grace, at least. A mild taste of basil and pepper with a little crunchiness from the vegetables. Eat it fresh because the stuffing will go stale fast under such weather.
Stuffing Instruction: Use 3 pieces of crabsticks, boiled and chopped to tiny bits. Cut cabbage and carrot into strips. In a bowl, place the ingredients with pepper and basil to taste. Lastly, add a spoonful of mayonaise and mix well, ensuring that the ingredients are well-blend.
Bun Instruction: In the breadmaker, put 1 egg and milk that gives a total of 180g, 30g sugar, ½ tsp salt, 260g bread flour, 1 tsp yeast and 30g unsalted butter. Follow the machine’s instruction in making bread dough. Once done, take the dough out and knead it to ensure the air bubbles diminished. Cover the dough with a clean cloth and rest for 30 minutes. Thereafter, knead it again, spray with water and let it proof overnight. The following day, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll it round. Poke with fork and bake at 170° for 15-20 minutes. Cut open the bun and put in the stuffing. Serve.
Dinner – Fried Chicken Rice Feast
An inspired meal from our local delicacy, Hainanese Chicken Rice. With simple ingredients required, it makes it easy to cook a well-balanced meal at home like the above. Move over chicken broth.No need to use that for a pot of delicious soup and fragrance chicken rice. Vegetable soup is just as good and requires lesser time. A pack of paste is all you need to get the authentic taste. Also add cucumbers slices to complete the meal.
Rice Instruction: A cup of basmati rice to 1.5 cup of water in the rice cooker. Add 80g chicken rice paste, fried onions and pandan leaves and cook.
Chicken Instruction: Marinate the mid joint chicken with abalone sauce, sesame oil, honey, minced garlic, five spices powder and corn starch. Leave it overnight in the fridge. Air fry at 180° for 8-10 minutes each side. Check everytime to prevent charred because of the honey used.
Soup Instruction: Cut potato, carrot and onions into chunks. Put in yellow beans and ikan bilis in a soup pouch. With 1 litres of water in a pot, put all the ingredients and soup pouch to boil for at least 1 hour or till the ingredients soften. You may add pork ribs or cob corn (optional).
Veggie Instruction:Wash the Xiao Bai Cai clean and drain well. In the pan, heat with oil and fry chopped garlic till fragrance.Stir fry Xiao Bai Cai and abalone sauce to taste. Mix starch and water, add in if you prefer. Serve.
Dessert – Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Molten Lava Cake
I have always been a fan of Betty Crocker’s premix and the success rate is usually higher than to make from scratch on my own.When it comes to using premix, I will follow instructions on the package obediently. So the downside will be the level of sweetness because you have no control over it when it is already ready for your usage. So get ready for some sweetness overdose.
There is a saying that your stomach will always have room for dessert even if you can’t stuff yourself with anymore food. That is really true but I don’t know why. Probably we have already educate ourselves since long ago that a satisfying meal should end with a nice dessert. Or it is just some biological reaction in our body that makes you crave for dessert.
Cake Mix Instruction: Require 2 eggs and 40g of melted butter. In a big bowl, put in cake mix, eggs and butter and stir with a spatula till well combined. Pour in the mixture with 2/3 filled in the greased ramekins. Bake at 200° for 15-17 minutes (time varies depending on oven type) till a soft top and the spoon doesn’t sink in when pressed on. Let it cool for awhile before consuming.
Tips: Top with a scoop of ice cream (whichever flavours available in your freezer) and experience the wonderful tussle between hot lava cake and cold ice cream in your mouth. Alternatively, you can choose to add fruits or just dust some icing on top.
So now you can imagine the fridge and pantry of mine are stuffed with items that are left unused or used occasionally. And that is why I have to think and make use of them to cook and bake instead of wasting. I feel guilty whenever I think about those from countries where they don’t get to eat nor drink. Let alone wasting food that is a luxury to them. Extremely sinful. Mostly importantly, a very good lesson learnt on how to manage my pantry and stimulating my creativity in cooking and baking. So let’s now conclude this post with the things we should do based on my experiences:
1. Do a proper stock check of your pantry supply to avoid duplicates and out of stock;
2. Draw up a menu for your meals to aid in your grocery shoppings;
3. Buy only the essentials and fresh produces;
4. Do not always go for bundle deals or discounts unless is something that you use;
5. Even so, too many bottles or packets can lead to wastage so take note;
6. Get smaller pack or quantity of food items when you don’t need so much, even if it is slightly expensive.
There are options where you can give your unused food items a new life through groups like The Food Bank Singapore whom collects unwanted and unused food items donated or deposited by companies and individuals, which will be provided to people in need of food or to charities. Or you can give it to your family or friends who you think will consume it.
Let us help in building a liveable and sustainable environment.
Stop food wastage from now!
One who speaks her mind, with little boundary; Stella Chen, a Food and Lifestyle Blogger, who uses her novice photography skills to let the pictorial snippets form her tiny kingdom that spins around on food adventures, culinary arts, wanderlust and life.