With food waste and the environment a focus, chefs, foodies, and the environmentally aware are looking to leftovers as a way of chopping food waste and creating something creatively delicious. Need some inspiration on where to start? What about a forage in your fridge?
Let’s face it, we all waste food. It’s the wilty asparagus, the wrinkly apple, those spoonfuls of leftover pasta. And we know it’s a no-no, so where do reducing food waste start? In the kitchen, or maybe given the popularity of the current wave of recipe books inspiring us in the culinary use of our scraps and leftovers, on the bookshelf. Some of the of the most hit upon: Zero Waste Cooking by Anne-Marie Boneau, James Beard Foundation’s “Waste Not", Abra Berens's “Ruffage” and the utterly earthy sounding “Cooking with Scraps” by Lindsay Jean Heard. A good way to think about food waste (without reading anything) is how the ends of a meal (aka leftovers) can become the start of something new. Those leftover ladles of soup - frozen for later or not - becoming the base of another soup, stew, or curry! Those broken tortilla shells, the crunchy topping of a soup of a salad. Leftover porridge from the pot? Perhaps not immediately “gourmet” but reinvented as a dessert with a dash of maple syrup, yoghurt (or cream) and a few berries decanted into a glass and you could offer it as something quite gourmet. Pestos? Forget basil - today it seems that any left-over or mildly sad-looking leaf is the base for any pasta dish (and go wild, we say, thinking “spring” and “dandelions”!). As for the pasta you cooked for 4 when only 2 servings needed - reboot as salad with those remaining veggie odds and ends. There are, of course, apart from the savings, bonus points in all this: peels eaten and stems chopped, souped up sauteed or steamed, become your added roughage; pickles made from that bushel of green beans you overbought at the market, become your gut shot. For many used to tossing the uneaten, not chucking that half-eaten avocado might be a bit of a step, but it’s a step in the right direction. A fast-heating climate is no joke. So get creative: mix mix and match, chop and blend, saute and sizzle your way into being a first class food saver. Note: become zealous and you’ll find yourself a) scraping every last ounce of flesh from that melon and b) looking at your now quite neglected counter top compost and saying “sorry”.
Ideas to reduce food waste
Corn cobs and carrot ends - into the stock pot they go.
Leftover carrot/parsnip – mash up and add to your muffin bake.
Over-ripe fruits (banana, avocados) – quick breads and cakes.
Stale (not moldy) bread – great for croutons, or turn into a bread pudding.
Broccoli stalks – grate finely to make a broccoli slaw.
Beetroot leaves – don’t toss, but saute!
Brine from that pickle jar – make it your gut shot for the day.
Orange and lemon rinds – steep in a jar of vinegar and use as a cleaner.
Leftover berries/soft fruit – poach, make a compote, or use to make kombucha.
Beans – stretch their use, make a dip.
Seeds – blend into those power balls!
Leftover cake – a tipsy trifle!
Last night’s pizza – this morning’s brekkie.
Scallions – Save the tops and regrow them!
Chickpea juice – make aquafaba.
Cabbage, kale – some homemade kimchi?
Pumpkin seeds – salt and toast!
Potato peels – homemade crisps!
Pickle juice – your gut shot for the day!
Leftover mashed potatoes – gnocchi or panko-dressed rissoles!
Veggie odds and ends – dips!
More tips ...
Waste less by buying less.
Don’t peel – enjoy the extra fibre, nutrients!
Eat the whole – root to leaf!
Pot herbs give you a snip without waste.
Eating out? Take a reusable container to use as your “doggy bag”.
In the fridge, use the “first in, first out” credo to keep your food in the right, edible, rotation.
The “whim” purchase you never use, before it expires, donate to your local community fridge or food drive.
Containers of every size can help you store and freeze easily.
Do you own date stamping on leftovers and remember “First in, First out”
Photo credit: Pinterest.