The Passover Seder is around the corner, and Jewish families across the world are already hard at work organizing and preparing for the Seders. Food is a central component to the holiday whether it be through the festive meals, symbolic foods on the seder plate, and of course, the strict dietary restrictions on chametz. With all this excess food, often comes lots of waste. It is very important for each of us to keep in mind the “10 Plagues of Food Waste,” making sure to refrain from these plagues so you can celebrate the holiday in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.
1) Donate your chametz rather than selling it to buy back after Pesach: Take the opportunity to donate any excess chametz still unopened in your pantry or freezer and give it to your local food bank.
2) The “Over-buy”: One of the leading causes of wasted food on Passover is that shoppers go to the grocery store and rush to stockpile on all the food necessary for the eight days of yom tov, thus resulting in too much food. To remedy this, plan your menus and shopping lists ahead of time so that you only buy what you’ll need.
3) Missing out on “Funny-Looking” Fruits and Vegetables: Most shoppers pass over (pun intended!) the abnormal looking produce. Many of these end up being thrown away by the supermarkets even though they are perfectly good. Be the better consumer, buy the funny-looking produce and help prevent waste. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter!
4) Don’t throw away past-ripe fruits, refurbish them for Pesach: Often people throw away their over-ripe fruits which leads to wasting good fruit. Instead, mash them up in the food processor for tasty charoset, or delicious jams for matzah.
5) Utilize your leftovers in a creative and fun way: Whether you keep two Seders or have extras from your one Seder, get creative with the leftovers instead of throwing them away. Create your own home version of the popular Food Network Show “Chopped” and see what creative dishes you can make with your leftovers.
6) The “Bubbie-portion”: The inner-grandmother in all of us wants us to serve big portions to our guests. Resist the temptation and serve smaller portions. This will ensure less excess being thrown out. Remember, no one actually wants to have more maror than is necessary.
7) The big plates: Set the table with smaller plates. Not only will this prevent your guests from taking too much food (and then throwing it out) but this has been a proven weight-loss secret as well.
8) Make use of food that is about to expire: Look through your refrigerator, find the foods that are about to expire and declare them the “Top-Chef secret ingredient” to be used. This will prevent food waste while bringing out the creative chef within.
9) Freeze food that is about to expire: An alternative to the previous tip is to cook foods that are about to expire and freeze them for later use.
10) Be creative with your leftover matzah: I can’t remember a Passover where we finished the holiday without a few extra boxes of matza still unopened. Unless you really enjoy a matzah and cream cheese sandwich even after the holiday, grind it up into matzah meal you can use year round for matzah balls.
Joseph Gitler is the founder and chairman of Leket Israel — The National Food Bank, the leading food rescue non-profit organization that rescues fresh, perishable food, which would otherwise be considered waste. Leket Israel works with 195 non-profits throughout the country to distribute nutritious food to over 175,000 Israelis weekly. Last year alone, Leket collected and delivered over 30 million pounds of food for the needy.