How to Dispose of Leftover Food

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: At many gatherings and community events, it is easy to notice that many people take more than their needed serving of food. As a result, most of us end up not eating everything on our plate and throwing it in the trash.

For those who volunteers at these events, what are some precautionary events to take to prevent this? Also, what do we do after the party is over and we find cookies with bites taken out of them, naan with pieces missing, etc. Is composting a good idea? Should we ourselves just eat them later?


Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

The sunna is in moderation, and wastefulness is contrary to it.

In general, being a generous host would entail that you order more food than reasonably necessary, but with suitable arrangements for handling the leftovers. This would be from true religious concern and closer to the Prophetic sunna.

Please see here for an article on the sunnas of eating: What Are Some of the Sunnahs of Eating?

Being Wasteful

In general, the scholars explain that wastefulness has three levels:

[1] Slight waste (leaving a small amount of food on the plate) is improper,

[2] Wastefulness (leaving a considerable amount of food on the plate) is disliked, and

[3] Excessive waste (leaving most of a plate of food) is sinful.

This is with the condition that the person put the food in their plate of their own accord. Otherwise, the blame would be on the person who put it in the plate.

What to do with Extra Food

At the end of the event, the organizers should take the means to separate food into: food that can still be eaten, and food that cannot.

In this, you should use your reasonable judgement. If the food can be made presentable (e.g. making a smaller piece out of a part-eaten kebab), then you should take the means to make it so. Thereafter, it can be packed and given to attendees, organizers, and even the homeless and needy, either directly or through a local foodbank.

As for food that cannot be made presentable or cannot be eaten (remaining pieces of bread and biscuits) for whatever reason, leave what you can for animals or insects, and the rest can be disposed of without blame, insha’Allah.

Please also see: Getting Rid of Spoiled Food

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Leaving Food on One’s Plate

Answered  by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Is it sunnah not to finish all the food on your plate, and to leave some food for next time? I ask because someone told me this is a very good thing to do, and someone else said this is illogical. Please clarify this, insha’Allah.

leftover-food-plateAnswer : The sunna is to finish all the food one took on one’s plate.

Leaving food is from wastefulness: leaving just a little is better not to; leaving more than this is blameworthy; that which would be considered ‘excessively wasteful’ is sinful.

This is if the food on one’s plate got there of one’s own accord. Otherwise, the waste is from the one who gave too much.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani

Throwing Away Food

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Kindly could you elaborate on the issue of throwing away food? For example, if one has cooked food that is edible in itself but distasteful, what should one do about it? Can one throw it away? What about bread crums and crums of biscuits? Can one throw them in the garden i.e the crums and left over small bits of food?

Lastly, is one responsible in anyway in picking up food seen thrown away in one’s path? Please correct me if im wrong, was there Prophetic Sunna related to picking up own’s own food that falls to the ground and eating it after one says Bismillah? Insh Allah look forward to your response.

leftover-food-plateAnswer: 1. The sunna is to only take the amount of food one is sure they can eat. Taking more than this is improper. Not finishing one’s food simply because it doesn’t taste good is disliked. Not doing so because one is genuinely full is excusable, though one should take heed and be more careful the next time.

Crumbs and left over bits of food should be eaten. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, that is where the baraka may well be, and this is an expression of one’s recognition of the blessing of food.

2. If one sees food on the ground, it is recommended, if possible without preponderating secondary considerations, to pick it up.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani