How To Reduce Food Wastage & Be More Sustainable

Practical tips to avoid wasting food, save money and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

By Amanda Tan        26 March 2024

Were you part of the generation who grew up on your parents’ warnings that there were starving children in Africa if we didn’t manage to finish our food? And, if you’re lucky enough to grow up with your grandparents, chances are, you would have heard of the horror stories during the second world war where there was simply not enough food to eat.

These days, it seems like most people don’t seem to think very much about food waste. How so, you ask? According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), the total amount of food waste in Singapore stood at 813,000 tonnes or 813 million kg in 2022. While this was a dip from the 817,000 tonnes reported in 2021, it still made up for about 11% of Singapore’s total waste during the year.

In addition to food waste being a social or humanitarian concern, wasting food also harms the environment indirectly by wasting the energy, water and gas emissions that went into growing, harvesting and transporting food. Besides, if food goes to landfill and rots, the product produces methane, a type of greenhouse gas.

With that, here are some practical tips on how you can avoid wasting food.

1. Plan your meals and make a list

Plan your meals and make a list

Before going grocery shopping, plan your meals for the week and make a list accordingly. A list will not only help you stick to your budget, it will also help you avoid purchasing food items on a whim, items you may not need or use in the near future.

2. Shop at the right time

Shop for food at the right time

You read that right, there IS a good time to shop, and that’s when your belly is full. According to research, including a paper from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, shopping when you’re hungry will lead you to buying food – and other items – that you don’t necessarily need.

3. Check expiration dates

Check expiration dates of food

This may be a no-brainer, but trust us, it doesn’t hurt to check twice. This works two ways: if you’re going to be preparing a meal soon and know you’ll be using a particular ingredient soon, you can look for one that may expire soon. However, if you’re either not cooking for a big group or you’re pre-buying your ingredients ahead of your meal prep, opt for products that have longer shelf lives.

4. Shop at the wet markets or at the grocers

Shop for food at the wet markets or at the grocers

In Singapore, we’ve got various grocery options – from the wet market to supermarkets and speciality grocers. Again, if you’re not cooking for a large group or you rarely cook, consider buying items that don’t come in bulk or unwrapped items. Going to the wet market, in our view, is the best, as you get most, if not all, of your groceries fresh. You can also save on packaging when it comes to staples such as vegetables, fish, meat and eggs. 

If you live near Tagore Lane, check out the variety of groceries at Quan Shui, a third-generation-run wet market.

SAFRA members enjoy 15% off fresh groceries with no minimum spend. More details at safra.sg/promotions/quan-shui-wet-market

Prefer gourmet products that are organic and carbon neutral? You’ll love the selection at Ryan’s Grocery where you can shop for your fruits and veggies, seafood, jams, pastries, and more

If you’re constantly out and have no time to shop, Grocery Owl powered by Lam Soon Singapore ensures all your grocery needs are met and waiting for you at your doorstep.

SAFRA members get to enjoy $3 off with a minimum spend of $45. More details at safra.sg/promotions/grocery-owl

Here are more tips on how to shop wisely to lower your food bills.

5. Order only what you need

Cater only what you need

The same rule applies when you’re dining out – order only what you can eat. It’s tempting to want to try everything on the menu, especially when you’re hungry and every single dish looks so, so good. But remember that each dish comes at a cost – quite literally too. If you find yourself unable to estimate the voracity of your appetite, always ask for your food packed to go after your meal, even in high-end establishments. 

Tote along reusable containers (even better if they’re collapsible so you can save space in your bag) so you’re never caught unprepared.

6. Firm up the number of people when catering for events

Firm up the number of people when catering for events

Similarly, when it comes to catering for events, it is important to confirm the exact number of people, so you don’t end up with too much food at the buffet. It’s better to low-ball the final number than overestimate, especially when you have to factor the number of people who may decide not to attend at the last minute.

Look to FoodLine.sg for your next food order. With over 480 caterers and cake shops under its portfolio, FoodLine.sg will help you find the best caterer for your needs.

SAFRA members enjoy up to $20 off your next order. More details at safra.sg/promotions/FoodLine-23

7. Donate excess food

Donate excess food

If you have non-perishable and unexpired food items that you won’t use, consider bringing them to a food bank or a donation drive instead of letting them go to waste. For cooked food, put the excess in the refrigerator or freezer and save it for the next day. Or, make friends within the neighbourhood if it’s just you or just the both of you at home! We understand it can be hard to cook for a smaller group of people. If you’re close enough, consider arranging for each household to take turns cooking for the larger group. This way, you save on utilities and minimise food wastage.

8. Compost your food waste


Those with green fingers should consider starting a compost pile. This keeps food waste from the trash and creates nutrient-rich soil for your plants.

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