How do you deal with all the excess food that’s about to go bad in the refrigerator without having it go to waste? Try these tips to help form your new habits, and save the world while doing it!
I hear you – using up all of your food in the kitchen is HARD. WORK.
It requires planning and preparation and a lot of creativity. If you’re an adventurous whiz in the kitchen (or even if you’re not), chances are your fridge may be stocked with a lot of one-off ingredients that you have no idea how to utilize before they expire. If food composting isn’t your thing, there are many other little tips and tricks to freeze or re-purpose ingredients.
And once you make them a habit, they become second nature.
It’s almost like a game – how the heck can you use this remaining celery root by the end of the week? And hey, if you shave a few bucks off your grocery bill in the meantime, think of it as Mother Nature paying you back for your extra love and support.
So the secret to saving the world from your own kitchen, you ask? It’s about doing the little things. Here are a few kitchen hacks to get you started:
1. Freeze Extra Herbs
Many folks are major offenders of the one-recipe herb purchase, then forgetting them in the fridge to rot. The trick? Freeze your leftover herbs!
Stick them in the bottom of an ice cube tray and top with a little water. They’ll thaw a little wilted but essentially good as new and can be used in the same ratio as fresh herbs. Just make sure to chop the stems off first if you don’t typically include those in your recipes and use up your frozen herbs within two months.
2. Pre-package Your Smoothies
Get through extremely busy mornings by tossing leftover fruits or veggies in a plastic bag and throwing them in the freezer. When you’re running around and have no time to make eggs in the morning, throw the pre-made concoction in the blender with a splash of milk for a delicious and balanced breakfast on the go.
3. Embrace Ugly Produce in Soups and Stir-Frys
Use leftover veggies, meats, or other remnants with chicken or vegetable broth in a homemade soup. My pantry is always stocked with extra broths for this exact scenario. Soups typically freeze like a champ so making a big batch and freezing smaller tupperware portions for work lunches later is a no-brainer.
If soup isn’t your favorite, try a stir-fry! Use up all of your “ugly stepsister” produce, like broccoli stems, potato peels, and the last slice of onion or pepper in a nutritious jumbo pot of your favorite stir-fry. Just add sauce and seasoning, and you’ve got yourself a meal that would make PF Chang’s jealous.
4. Pickle Those Veggies
Fresh fruits and vegetables can easily be preserved longer with a simple pickling process. With a few simple ingredients like vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, you can preserve these veggies in an airtight jar and pull them out for later use. Plus, it’s a fun way to play around with a new cooking technique and get some global flavor exploration happening in your own kitchen.
5. Bring Half a Lunch to Work
Don’t have enough for a whole lunch? Rather than going out to lunch because you’re missing an ingredient or two, complete the process of putting together your whole meal at work! Bring lunches that are half put together, then supplement with more goodies from the work cafeteria or walk across the street to the poke shop and buy their fresh ahi as a salad topper.
It’s a hassle-free way to bring lunch and use up some of the remaining groceries in the process. A couple bucks for fresh ahi on your homemade salad AND you get your steps in? Yes, please!
6. When in Doubt, Donate
When you are all out of creative ideas on how to use up your leftover ingredients, try hooking up with your local food pantry or shelter and offering up leftovers as a donation. Did you know that milk is one of the most requested items at food pantries? Yet it’s a household staple many of us take for granted, and often end up tossing when we don’t use it up. Help out someone in need and don’t let that food go to waste. Check out Further with Food for more information and resources on food waste and how you can do your part to stop the trend.
Adapted from the original article.
Marissa Thiry, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Orange County, CA with a passion for health, wellness, and delicious food. With her love of innovating in the kitchen and testing unique flavors from different cultures, Marissa helps others understand that eating should be an experience, not a task. Make a visit to read more from Marissa.