Tuesday, September 9, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable With Your Leftover Food

How are you all doing with your waste less food mini eco-challenge? The other night I took a bunch of vegetables in the fridge that would usually be destined for the garbage disposal (I REALLY need to start composting!), chopped them up, threw a little olive oil in the pan, went out back and picked some parsley to add in and sauted them together with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I ate three servings - it was so good and had enough left to reheat for last night's dinner.

I've been keeping a list of what has gotten thrown out (wish my oldest would eat his crusts - the list would be much shorter). 

In keeping with wasting less food - this week's 10 Easy Ways... is how to be more sustainable with your leftover food. Being more sustainable with leftovers basically means not wasting them. 
  1. Put a container in your freezer to make leftover soup. Throw the odds and ends of vegetables, pastas, rice, beans and other things you might put in a soup. When you've got a substantial amount - make a one of a kind soup by adding some organic chicken or vegetable broth and some seasonings. You'll end up with something interesting.
  2. If you've got a small amount of leftover vegetables from two or three nights in a row - say peas from Monday, zucchini from Tuesday, and corn from Wednesday, on Thursday heat them up and let everyone choose which one they want with their dinner.
  3. Leftover white rice from Chinese food? Here are Five Ideas for Using Up Leftover, Cooked White Rice.
  4. Keep a bread bag in your freezer to put the ends of loaves of bread. When you need fresh bread crumbs, defrost a few slices and use your food processor to make the bread crumbs. 
  5. When bananas get too brown to eat, put them in the freezer. Find a good banana bread recipe and when you've got enough for the recipe, defrost and make banana bread. The bananas will look thoroughly disgusting once your defrost them, but they'll make great bread. 
  6. Let the kids eat leftover mac and cheese or other pastas for breakfast if they want. This drives my husband crazy for some reason, but my kids love it.
  7. Share - especially after a party, you might have a large amount of something leftover. Send it home with party guests or give a whole meals worth to a neighbor.
  8. Freeze small portions of leftover meat for nights when not everyone is going to be home. I use these small portions for nights I know my husband won't be home. I'll defrost the meat and split it up between the boys and me - none of us are big meat eaters. I'll add some pasta and vegetables and we're all happy, and I didn't have to cook a main dish.
  9. Refrain from cooking something new until something still edible is used up. This morning my son asked me to please make granola bars. I told him that we still had plenty of zucchini bread and until it was gone, I wouldn't be making granola bars. I know if I made the bars, the bread would probably be forgotten. We're become accustomed to having a huge variety of food to choose from, but if we're going to try to eat more sustainably, we're going to have to get used to eating things until they get eaten up. 
  10. Get off your butt and start a compost pile already (I'm talking to myself here). That way some food that doesn't get eaten can go back to nourish the earth to grow more food.

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