Last week I read a jaw dropping statistic that said half of the food produced in the world is thrown away. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised because I already knew that the average household tosses out $500 worth of food per year. We’re all guilty of it, even those of us who are budget minded. It could be vegetables and fruits that turn rotten before you get to eat them…or yes, forget about them tucked away at the back of the fridge. Or it might be the leftovers that no one seems to want. Here are some tricks I’ve found help me use everything that’s in the fridge, freezer, and even the pantry.
Make a Second Meal
Look through your leftovers and figure out what could become another meal. I found this site that helps you if you’re lost for ideas. You type in three ingredients you have on hand and they give you recipe suggestions. Sometimes it comes up empty, but the site also has a section with recipes, and it’s divided into categories like lifestyle and equipment. http://www.bigoven.com/recipes/leftover.
Make Homemade TV Dinners
You’ve probably heard me mention this one before. Many years ago I purchased plates that are divided three sections and I use them for making homemade TV dinners. Leftover potatoes, rice, vegetables and chicken or fish, even a slice of meatloaf becomes another meal that’s stored in the freezer. Best thing is no one recognizes them as a recycled meal, and if you’re ever short on time, these are the answer.
Dry or Freeze It
Sometimes I buy something with every good intention of using it and then never get around to it. Rather than let it go to waste, or just rot on the fridge shelf, I either dry it, using my dehydrator or freeze it. I sometimes do this with leftovers too. If I have corn or peas I put them in the dehydrator and use them later for soups and stews.
Make Your Own Meal Kits
I always keep a few of these on hand and they’re perfect when you have just a few carrots, stalks of celery, maybe half an onion left. I discovered that most of the recipes I made had those three ingredients in them so now I keep bags of them in the freezer and call them my homemade meal kits. Perfect for stir-frys too.
And here are some ideas for using specific leftovers-
Perfect for putting in soups and stews. Or combining with scrambled eggs and cheese for homemade breakfast burritos.
One thing I never buy is breadcrumbs. Sometimes I have slices from different loaves of older bread that aren’t fresh enough to make a sandwich with, but make ideal breadcrumbs. I even add garlic powder and herbs for the flavored variety. And if you ever have leftover tortillas, turn them into chips.
I cut them into triangles, brush them with oil and sprinkle on chili powder and cumin and bake them for about ten minutes in a 375 degree oven.
These cry out to be made into fritters or things like fish cakes. And the ideal way to use leftover fish too.
Meat or Chicken
If there’s not quite enough for another meal one good idea is to chop it up, combine it with vegetables and gravy and make a shepherd’s pie.
I use mine in soups, or one serving portions of mac and cheese.
This goes into either soups or even quick rice puddings.
I always seem to have leftover stuffing during the holidays which I now put in the freezer for later use. It does make the perfect filling for stuffed Portobello mushrooms.