It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
You clean out your refrigerator once a week, sighing as you toss half-eaten fruit containers and moldy leftovers. All that food waste makes a significant difference to the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that such practices add the equivalent of 42 coal plants’ worth of carbon to the planet’s problems each year.
However, food poisoning remains a concern — you don’t want to risk illness. The trick is using those leftovers before they can spoil. Here are five ways to reuse extra food to avoid waste.
We’ve all read recipes that call for one-half of an onion or a cup of plain Greek yogurt — what do you do with the remainder? Tossing it in the rubbish bin creates unnecessary waste. Could you get creative instead of wrapping your half-eaten goods in hopes you need them before they go bad? For example, a batch of homemade French onion dip includes both ingredients — just add a touch of garlic salt and some chives.
Read the recipe before you cook and determine what side dishes or second meals you can make with the remaining ingredients. For example, you could whip up a mean creme brulee with the leftover egg yolks from that meringue. Whenever your meal calls for a portion of an ingredient, find something to do with the rest of it that extends its life, like baking leftover pumpkin puree into a loaf of bread.
Have you seen the hit Food Network show “Chopped?” It involves contestants making the most out of unusual basket ingredients — like leftover frozen pizza and dried ramen. If that sounds like the contents of your fridge and pantry, why not get in on the fun at home?
Did you pick up a sandwich for lunch yesterday, eat only half and now find the bread too soggy to consume? The other ingredients are still tasty wrapped in a tortilla or added to an omelet.
Get creative — try some fusion meals. For example, leftover Spanish rice makes an interesting alternative to fried rice if you also have moo goo gai pan that won’t last another day.
Back in the day, before there was a grocery store nearly every square mile, people had to preserve their crops in various ways. Canning can store plant-based foods, but learning the ropes takes some savvy — and you might need a pressure canner for foods with a pH less than or equal to 4.6.
However, you can reduce this workload by transforming leftovers into various sauces that you can freeze for six months. For example, you can mix a simple veloute to keep in your freezer, reconstituting it with butter and adding leftover rotisserie chicken and vegetables for a quick enchilada filling.
Tomato sauces offer nearly endless possibilities — use them as bases for soups and chili. You can also expand your child’s vegetable intake by shredding leftover carrots and kale to add to the pot.
Another way to use up your leftovers is to make soup. You don’t even need a recipe — just broth and spices.
A further way to reduce food waste is making broth with meat drippings to freeze for this purpose. For example, did you decide to fry some turkey burgers on the stovetop instead of the grill during inclement weather? Use those drippings to make a savory broth to serve as a base for future stews.
Eggs offer unparalleled flexibility. Nearly any other ingredient can make an interesting omelet — some restaurants feature over 100 varieties on their menu.
You can even create a Sunday brunch omelet bar from leftovers. Before heading to the market, pull out those items about to turn with some eggs and butter. Have each family member take a turn at the griddle or select their ingredients.
Food waste contributes to considerable emissions. Reducing the amount you toss in the rubbish every week decreases your carbon footprint.
Try these five creative ways to reuse extra food and avoid waste. You’ll save money at the grocer’s and do your part to preserve the planet.
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