If you have extra leftovers or partially-used ingredients on hand, don’t throw them away! Here are few tips on how to repurpose or properly store some of your most commonly found foods in your fridge.
BY: DIXYA BHATTARAI, MS, RD, LD
Food waste is something we all struggle with to a certain degree. Sometimes, we’ll make a random grocery purchase, forget about the produce in the fridge, and have a last-minute dinner date with friends.
It happens all the time.
So what are some practical ways to repurpose or save half-used ingredients? Here’s how you can handle some of these most commonly wasted foods from your kitchen.
1. COOKED GRAINS & PASTA
More often than not, we cook too many grains such as rice, quinoa, or barley. Cooked grains by themselves won’t go bad in the fridge for 3-5 days, but if it’s combined with sauce or other items, it may develop an aftertaste. That’s why the goal is to consume it as soon as you can to avoid waste or spoilage.
If you can’t finish it, you can freeze grains for up to 3 months when stored correctly. Simply pack cooled cooked grains into pre-portioned bags and store it in the freezer. Similarly, pasta and noodles can be stored for 3-5 days, and can be reheated by dropping into boiling water for a few minutes.
2. OPENED & UNOPENED MILK
The date on food items, except for infant formula, are not always an accurate indicator of the product’s safety; it simply indicates when food is of best quality. While you shouldn’t ignore the expiration date, use your sense of smell to determine if it smells spoiled. If it smells fine, you can probably stretch a day or two.
Unopened milk, despite the date on the container, will probably last longer if stored correctly in the fridge. If you are not a regular milk drinker, consider purchasing half gallon or milk with ultrahigh temperature (UHT) processing or treatment, which have a longer shelf life.
3. COOKED MEAT
Cooked meat is a very versatile ingredient with endless possibilities! If stored properly, cooked meat such as grilled chicken, steak, and ground meat can last for 3-4 days and can be kept in the freezer for a long time if stored properly. Try roasting a whole chicken, and use it throughout the week as an economical option for your meals.
4. GREENS & HERBS
When stored properly, most greens and herbs stay fresh for almost a week. You can even revive greens like lettuce, baby spinach & arugula by quickly plunging them into an ice bath. For heartier greens, such as collards, chard, and kale, trim the ends of the lettuce and stand them upright in a container of water. Greens can be frozen and used later in smoothies, soups, and stews, and pasta type dishes. Similarly, you can freeze fresh herbs that you can plan to use later.
5. ROASTED VEGETABLES
Roasted vegetables are a delicious and easy side to complete any meal. They are easy to make those ahead of time, and reheat them right before serving. Seasonal root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, and turnips last longer compared to peppers, squash, and onions. Whatever veggies you have, they can be transformed into delicious meals throughout the week.
6. STALE BREAD
How many of us are guilty of throwing the ends of bread, or buy a whole loaf of baguette without actually finishing it? Repurpose the ends of bread and take care of baguette before tossing them away as bread crumbs, croutons, or making a simple bread pudding.
Food waste, be gone!
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: MALI MAEDER
Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD, LD is a Fort Worth-based Registered Dietitian, content creator and food blogger inspiring wholesome living through delicious food, wellness tips, and everything in between. Through her blog Food, Pleasure, and Health, Dixya shares easy, wholesome recipes and provides a creative space to help others enjoy healthy lives in an approachable way.