January Money Diet Day 28 – Reduce Food Waste

Leftovers can be yummy! | Photo: Waldopics

Leftovers can be yummy! | Photo: Waldopics

Nothing makes me feel worse than discarding spoiled food that we didn’t eat. Do you feel the same way?

One of my goals this year is to make better use of leftovers. The whole concept of “zero waste” appeals to me on so many levels (read more about this in Saturday’s post), and utilizing food efficiently is a vital component of sustainable living.

In addition to encouraging everyone in the household to enjoy leftovers, here are a few more ideas:

  • When my mom cooks vegetables, she always saves the cooking water and freezes it. She uses it later to make soup stock, and her soups are famously rich and flavorful.
  • Stale crackers and chips can be remarkably refreshed by spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and baking at 300 degrees F for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool and then seal in an airtight container.
  • Use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes, or to top a Shepherd’s Pie.
  • What about those odd stray veggies in the vegetable crisper? Use them on pizza or in salads, or freeze them for your next batch of soup.
  • Sometimes I put all the odds and ends from the refrigerator in nice dishes, arrange them like a buffet, and call it a Smorgasbord. My kids love this!
  • Leftover tortillas can be used to make homemade tortilla chips, like this healthy baked version from Savory Sweet Life.
  • “Many foods taste even better the second day.” Repeat this phrase often!

When we do (reluctantly) discard food scraps, let’s commit to composting since decomposing food in landfills produces methane, the greenhouse gas thought to contribute to climate change.

Today’s homework assignment: Get creative with leftovers, and be sure to let us know what you do!


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About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

5 comments to January Money Diet Day 28 – Reduce Food Waste

  • Mary Stephens

    Love your post! I store everything in see through glass containers. That way I know what I have stored in the refrigerator. I also love to make what I call refrigerator soup. Organic or home,made stock, some chicken pieces from previously cooked chicken, and left over veggies and brown rice, and onions and celery if I have them. Love Mrs, Dash to season and yum, great winter supper! Things for sharing your ideas!

  • Julia

    One of my strategies for reducing food waste is to put all my veggie scraps, onion peels, carrot ends, broccoli stems… In a large ziplock bag in the freezer. I add to the bag each time I cook . When it is time to make chicken stock I add some or all of the bag to the stock pot. The veggies ad so much flavor, and nutrients, to the stock and I’m not having to purchase any additional veggies to make it! Once I pick the meat off the bones I save the bones and skin to feed to a local feral cat colony in our urban neighborhood. The only veggie I don’t put in my scrap bag is peppers since it tends to make the whole pot of stock taste like green peppers.

  • I haven’t had to worry about leftovers since I replaced my fridge with a small chest freezer. Being single when I make a meal I usually make more than I can eat and package the rest up into serving sizes to store in the freezer. Then I can simply take out what I need for a meal with no waste.

  • Love this post! I also hate to throw food out. A few ways I avoid doing this are at the end of the week I make a huge veggie frittata with all sorts of leftover veggies. I use leftover mashed potatoes to thicken soups. I save parmesan rinds and use them to make a flavorful broth. I adore stale bread to make a panzenella salad. I have a million tricks up my sleeve.

  • Kim

    A favorite trick for leftovers is “The Week in Review Soup”. Saute a shallot and some garlic. Dump all leftovers into the pot and douse with plenty of chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer for a bit. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, a salad and some crusty bread. Amazingly good!

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