budget talk

Never Waste Food Again

This year I’m determined to stick with my resolution never to waste food again. I’m usually good about using everything but once in awhile the odd piece of fruit or vegetable heads to the garbage bin.
Here are some creative ways I’ve found to use every last piece of food sitting in the fridge or pantry. Hope you can put some to good use.

Combine Ingredients
Sometimes I open the fridge and have half a cup of this, half a cup of that…not enough to make a meal but if you combine some foods you get a side dish or the beginnings of dinner. At Christmas I had a about a cup of Potatoes O’Brien leftover from a meal and somewhere between a quarter and half cup of blue cheese. I immediately thought potato salad. I combined the two, added chives, some leftover bacon bits and mayonnaise to make a quick and easy winter potato salad.
And here’s something I’m combining all the time these days. Salsa and cheese, which if you’ve never tried them together make for the perfect omelet when you’re short on time. I add oven fries and it’s one of the fastest meals on my desperation dinner list.

Left Over Sauces, Chutneys
At Christmas I made homemade cranberry sauce. I seem to be the only person who likes it so I was left with a container of the stuff. I was thinking about freezing it and then I remembered I bought a wedge of brie that was on sale. I’ve seen lots of ways to serve brie and a popular one is to serve it with a chutney or fruit relish. What better holiday appetizer than brie with cranberry sauce. Pairs perfectly.

This is often a problem during the summer, too many herbs from the garden. I usually chop them and put them in ice cube trays, but something I’ve been doing recently is adding them to pastry when I make pot pies. Sage is great with turkey and chicken pot pies, dill with tuna pot pies. Chop them up and add them to the mix or even roll the pastry over them a couple of times and they get incorporated into the dough.

Leftover Bread
You can make homemade breadcrumbs but one thing I really like is making bread pudding, which by the way is one of the best bargain deserts. If I have leftover fruit I’ll add that, bananas work really well. And you don’t have to stick with sweet bread puddings, savory ones are money savers too. Roasted vegetables and cheese, cheese and ham… it’s another way to use other leftovers too.

Mashed Potatoes
When I’m around, leftover mashed potatoes are an oddity. When they are sitting in the fridge, I’ll make salmon fishcakes, Bubble and Squeak or add cheese, roll them in breadcrumbs and sauté them. Children love these, especially if you serve with them ketchup.

Other Veggies
Another goal I’ve set this year is to use vegetable peelings and scrapes to create my own stock. I have a bag in the freezer and every time I prepare vegetables this bag gets fed instead of the garbage bin. Every couple of weeks, I’ll make homemade stock and freeze it. Best thing is each time you’ll have a different amount and/or combination of vegetables so the stock always taste different.

Leftover Fruit
I’ve made crumbles, cobblers and if I really don’t know what to do with the fruit, there’s always a smoothie.

Rice and Beans
These often sit in the fridge and most of the time I buy tortillas and make rice and bean burritos. I freeze them and serve them on days when I don’t have time to cook or for a speedy lunch.

Sunday Dinner
This is something I’ve been doing since last summer, using Sundays as a day off from cooking. It’s the perfect time to pull out everything that’s leftover from the week and have a buffet. Eat ‘as is’ or combine what’s left.

Food Saver Machines
I’ve had my food saver machine for many years and now there are so many cheaper versions on the market. You can even pick up one at your local supermarket store. If you just can’t think of what to do with leftovers, invest in one of these money saving gadgets and freeze the food until you can.

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