Recipes for Reducing & Reusing LeftoversBy Sam Miller
Alright. It’s time. You thought you could run forever… but, alas, your past meals will always ketchup with you.
So: lower those goggles and snap on those rubber gloves… because it’s #NationalCleanOutYourFridgeDay. And this article is here to offer some zero-waste recipe ideas to minimize the damage of your uneaten food.
The Culprit: Prepared Food & Leftovers
You might be wondering: how does prepared food account for 23% of all food waste?
Everyday I’m Shuffling (food into the garbage can)
Well, just think of your daily meal-prep: how often do you prepare something requiring only a quarter jar of this, or a half-can of that? Tomato ends, onion butts, the mid-point of an English cucumber: all items which will most likely sit in your fridge until you finally pluck up the courage to toss it out.
Least Loved = Leftovers
Leftovers are famous for taking up valuable fridge space. Whether it's because you're not in the mood for the same meal twice in a row, or because you simply forgot you had them, the majority of our leftovers go uneaten.
Poker night, anyone? Mutilated chip-dips, murky salsa bowls, nacho-speckled hummus, cheese rinds and that strange cocktail you “invented” the night before: let's be real. None of these are going to survive the night.
Another hard-hitter: restaurant doggy-bags. 80% of all those leftovers that you paid your hard-earned money on will never see the outside of the takeout container.
But what can I do?
Yup. For reals.
By limiting the amount of wasted organics you produce, you’re taking the first step toward making a real difference in your local waste diversion scene - and, ultimately, the world.
Don’t believe us?
About 300 lbs of food waste is produced by the average household per year. That’s the weight of an adult panda.
If just seven of your friends agree to work on the amount of food waste they produce every month, that could work out to about one ton of organic waste diverted from local landfills.
That’s huge! Think about it: That’s SEVEN ADULT PANDAS.
How to Save Your Leftovers
Try some of these recipes and limit the amount of food waste you produce every day, let alone every year!
Carrots, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, leek, potatoes, ginger chunks, garlic, onion, parsnips, parsley, yams -
Any and all are welcome in this silly-simple dish. Toss in a zesty sauce, dressing, marinade or even just a bit of salt and pepper and top with a bit of protein: eggs, tofu, chicken, pork - or sprinkle a bit of cheese on top, if you’re nasty.
Much like a stir fry, almost anything can be tucked into the warm embrace of a steaming egg. Two eggs and a dash of milk to about a cup of fried veggie filling should do you fine. Alternatively, if you wanted to speed up the process, you could heat the veggies and simply crack two eggs over the melange, directly into the pan.
Mix together and you’ll end up with a flavourful, textured scramble. Hot sauce and cheese - be careful though, your mouth may get burnt from how quickly you scarf down this egg-cellent dish.
Casserole: French for “Literally the Easiest Thing Ever”
Okay, maybe not. But it should be.
Toss in your leftovers with some protein and a can of soup with a cup of milk (non-dairy if you’re so inclined and watch that beauty bubble (at 400 degrees, for as long as it takes for the ingredients to meld together).
Other Simple Veggie Recipes
Veggie fried rice
Cobbler or Crumble, Ever So Humble
There isn’t much in this world that can’t be solved by a hot slice of pie. And it doesn’t even need to be bad for you!
Do you have any old fruit or fruit bits that are just about to turn a putrid shade of brown? Well, don’t toss em - chop em up!
For the fruit:
Grease a square baking dish or a cast-iron pan with butter or coconut oil. Chop your fruit bits into one-inch chunks and layer them in the dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, drizzle in a quarter-cup of honey and mix the lot together. A dash of juice or apple cider vinegar (or white wine if you’re high in spirits but low in supplies) will add a pleasant tartness to the dessert.
Cover the fruit mix under aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover when finished.
For the crumble/cobbler mix: a cup of almond meal or very finely chopped nuts and a cup of oatmeal (ground up for a finer texture). Add two tablespoons of brown sugar and mix well.
Add the crumble topping to the pre-baked fruit and return the dish to the fiery pit for another fifteen minutes at 425 degrees.
Other easy-peasy fruit recipes:
Sorbet, soft ice cream (or “nice” cream)
With melted chocolate
Other Tips for Diverting Waste:
Knowing what you’re going to make in advance of making it will help you construct a workable grocery-list and limit needless extras or foods that you won’t need within the days (by which time those hopefuls may have gone bad).
Basing your meals on what is most likely to expire first:
Rather than let your Pinterest board lead you toward one meal or another, check expiry dates on the foods in your fridge every few days and base your meals around items that are about bite the dust.
Even if the food in question (a softening cucumber, perhaps, or a soggy tomato) does not have an explicit expiry date, you can rest assured that it will be softer to the touch than it had been in your grocery cart, and most likely a darker color. When in doubt, eat soft foods first and hard foods last.
If you have no choice but to toss past-date food - and, don’t worry, we’re not judging - then you should try and find other solutions to just feeding your garbage (trust us, it’s perfectly well fed as it is). Composting, or using an electric food recycler are both excellent options.