Leftover food is one of the biggest sources of food waste for many households. Either we forget about it, it gets lost in a cluttered refrigerator, we don’t know how to use it, or we just aren’t in the mood for a mealtime rerun.
Whatever the reason, leftover loss is a huge problem. Thankfully, it’s a problem that can easily be tackled.
If you’re ready to tackle the problem in your home, here’s what to do with leftover food:
This is a boring and obvious one, but you can make it fun. Basically, you set aside one night a week to have leftovers for dinner. Try to also include any other foods you have that are likely to go bad soon, like that half eat container of hummus. It’ll go great with veggies that need to get used up.
Set everything out for your family like a buffet. If it makes sense with the kinds of leftovers you have, set out a little ‘toppings bar’ too with things like grated cheese, sour cream, chopped nuts, chopped green onions, salsa or chutney, or any other topping that would make leftover night a little more fun.
And don’t forget to remind your family that eating leftovers makes them superheroes, saving the planet with every bite. Capes to the dinner table maybe?
Make something old, new again
Reusing leftovers doesn’t have to mean just reheating the same old thing. Repurposing leftovers into new meals can make them a little more exciting.
Depending on the seasoning of the original meal, you can add leftover meat, vegetables or seafood to fajitas, fried rice, pasta sauce, soup or a casserole.
Look for ways to make it different from the original. Let’s say you have leftover roast chicken, carrots and potatoes. Cut up the chicken and carrots to throw into fried rice the next night. The potatoes? Mash them up and fry them into hashbrowns for brunch. Or top them with garlic aioli and serve them with a green salad and Lebanese-style lentils and rice. Just because you had it one way the first time, doesn’t mean it has to be the same the next time around.
If you’re stuck for ideas, just Google for leftover food recipes. You’ll find tons of ideas!
Make the freezer your friend
Made too much bolognese? Don’t just throw it in the fridge where it will get forgotten and start looking like a fuzzy, nightmarish terrarium. Freeze it!
But don’t just throw it in there either. How to get the most out of leftover food in the freezer is to consider how you’ll use it down the road.
For example, you may be more likely to take leftover lasagne to work for lunch than to reheat the whole thing for another dinner. In that case, package it in individual portions before freezing so you can just grab and go.
You may be planning to use leftover chicken in a soup next week. In that case, cut it up into small pieces before freezing. That way, you can just dump the whole thing into the soup. You won’t even have to thaw it first!
Back in the old days before grocery stores existed and food was a much more precious commodity, people knew how to reuse food scraps and leftovers. One of the easiest ways was soup.
A lot of people are intimidated by soups, but they’re remarkably easy to make and go great with a fresh baguette, or grilled cheese sandwiches.
Leftover steamed broccoli, for example, just needs a little onion, some chicken or vegetable broth, some cream and a bit of seasoning to make a delicious cream of broccoli soup.
If you have a little bit of tomato sauce leftover, use it as the start of a pseudo-minestrone. Add broth, pasta, diced carrots, spinach and white beans. Top it off with some grated parmesan and you have a hearty, delicious dinner!
Most soups are really easy to make, take very little time, and if you’re using leftovers, they end up costing next to nothing. Embrace the soup! The ultimate superhero food!
If you’re regularly throwing out leftovers, you’re likely making too much food to begin with. One of the easiest ways to conquer leftover loss is to produce fewer leftovers. Look into cutting your favourite recipes in half or quarters so you don’t have leftovers to waste next time.
Points to remember
Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours
Use leftovers within 3-4 days
Make sure leftover food is clearly visible in the fridge so that you are more likely to use it
Store leftovers on the upper shelves of your fridge
Never put piping hot leftovers in the freezer - you risk partially thawing nearby foods
A true FoodHero knows the power of leftovers in the fight against food waste and in keeping your wallet well fed. If leftover loss is a problem in your home, make a plan, take action, reduce waste!