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Eat Well, Spend Less: What We Waste, and Don’t (Q&A)

We’re doing something totally different for this month’s Eat Well, Spend Less, and I hope you love it as much as I am!  Instead of each blogger writing their own post on a selected topic, we’ve all come up with a question for each other and are posting the responses on our blogs!  So, it’s kind of a behind-the-scenes look and it’s really fun to see all of our different (and similar) responses to the same question.

Since I have food waste on the brain, my question centered around that topic.  I asked, “What item(s) tend to go to waste in your kitchen? Is there a food item that you are particularly proud of using every last little bit/never wasting?”

food-leftovers

And here are everyone’s responses:

mandi easy homemadeMandi from Easy Homemade: Sadly, leftovers tend to go to waste, especially when there’s only a small amount left. I’m trying to get better about preparing enough of each meal to give us plenty of variety so that “leftover nights” can be a regular part of our meal plan, both to prevent waste and to give me a night off from cooking!

 

 

aimee simple bitesAimee from Simple Bites: The last end of a loaf of bread, a lonely English muffin…it’s often items in bread form that get tossed in my kitchen, sadly. At least they go to the chickens, so it doesn’t feel like a total waste.

I’m pretty proud of how I stay on top of produce. A cabbage-based soup is often the recipient of 5-6 varieties of vegetables that need to get used up. Likewise, a fruit crisp or crumble may contain any or all of the following: wrinkly apples, bruised pears, freezer burnt blueberries, or frozen chopped rhubarb from two springs past. That topping of butter and oats can really work magic, to say nothing of how a scoop of ice cream further elevates my ‘kitchen scraps’.

jessica life as momJessica from Life as Mom: We tend to waste pasta or rice if I cook too much. Some days the kids can eat several pounds and other days not so much. I try to use them up in soup and other leftover meals, but inevitably I miss something. Butter never ever goes to waste.

 

 

shaina food for my familyShaina from Food for My Family: This is embarrassing, but I tend to let chocolate bloom more often than I care to admit. We don’t eat dessert often, only for special occasions, and so it’s a specialty ingredient that often ends up sitting in the cupboard for longer than it should. This isn’t so much a problem during the winter months when my house is cold and I can’t even get butter to soften on the counter, but it does become an issue during the summer when my unconditioned kitchen is on the hot and humid side. Since I tend to buy chocolate for winter projects and then forget about it, by the time I find it, it has bloomed into a white-coated confection that doesn’t have the same appeal as its smooth and silky surface once did. This doesn’t always lead to waste, but it can and has.

Leftover fish tends to be an issue for us as well, as it’s harder to repurpose than other leftovers and doesn’t reheat quite as nicely. However, I generally make more food for dinner so that we have leftovers to send as school lunches or with my husband for his lunch at work. I also try to cut corners by making leftover rice and pasta. Pasta gets tossed with a quick cheese sauce for the kids, and rice can be any number of leftover goodness: fried rice, cheesy rice bakes, added to soups at the end of the cooking time.

Katiei kitchen stewardshipKatie from Kitchen Stewardship: The last little dollop of sour cream, cottage cheese, or ricotta sometimes hits the trash can – the stuff I didn’t quite get to before the fuzz hit. Sometimes I lose the last of very moist homemade grain products that I should have refrigerated but left on the counter a day too long. Also sometimes we just don’t like something, and I tend to leave it in the fridge hopefully until it really goes bad. I don’t feel as awful throwing something out when it’s obviously unsafe to eat! I never waste celery because it always gets frozen quickly and rarely throw away any produce that can be frozen (mushy lettuce can be an occasional problem). I’m proud when I reuse bones to make 3 batches of stock!

Amy-kingdom first momAmy from Kingdom First Mom: Anything leftover that I wrap in foil tends to go to waste. If I store leftovers in a dish, they usually get eaten, but if I use foil, it gets lost or I forget about it. You would think I would learn, but I still use foil sometimes. I’ll blame it on my hubby since he cleans up the kitchen more than I do!

 

carrie-isaacCarrie (me!) from Colorado Bargains: I’ve spent the past year or year and a half really focused on cutting down food waste in my home – right down to onion skins and potato peels! Still, I struggle with wasting things that I tend to have an excess of – like bread heels from boring old sandwich bread. There are lots of things that I can do with them (which I will be going into in From Garbage to Gourmet) but it seems like we still have more than enough and I end up throwing them away sometimes. I made reducing waste a goal of mine last year and I’m really excited about how I’ve learned to use things most people throw away, like chicken and beef bones and vegetable trimmings like broccoli stalks and carrot peels – I don’t throw nearly as many of those away as I used to!

Stay tuned – later this week I’ll post links to our answers on questions like:

What is your favorite resource when you’re unsure how to do something? What resources to do you recommend to friends/family/blog readers for cooking how-tos?

How do you present new foods to your children? When introducing new foods to your kids, what are the hardest things to overcome? Do you make separate meals for children and adults or does everyone eat the same food?

What’s the single most important frugal thing you do in the kitchen, the one thing you’d never drop? Conversely, what’s the biggest splurge item that you prioritize?

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Comments

  1. For heels of bread; I put them in the brown sugar container to keep the sugar soft because if I don’t then the brown sugar gets too hard and I have to throw that away too.

    • That’s a great idea!

    • Do you keep the brown sugar in the fridge? How do you keep the bread from molding? Or do you just rotate the bread enough that it doesn’t mold? I’ve got half a bag of dry/hard brown sugar for the um-tee-nth time wondering “how do I stop this from happening?”

      • The brown sugar absorbs the moisture from the bread, so it doesn’t mold since there isn’t any moisture in it. You would have to keep rotating the bread since the brown sugar will keep “sucking” the moisture out of it. (The moisture is actually just neutralizing.)

      • I’ve read (on Pinterest) that a jumbo marshmallow in with the brown sugar will also keep it from getting hard.

    • I keep my brown sugar in a gallon ziploc in the freezer. It’s always soft!

  2. I flip the heels of bread over so the soft side faces out and make pb&j for the kids with them. Since they can’t see the crust side and it has pb stuck on it my 4yo and 2yo haven’t noticed…yet!

  3. Just a couple of quick comments:

    *About leftovers … our youngest thinks it’s a real hoot to have Leftover Buffet for dinner. Another endearing name for it is “Mustgo Buffet” — everything in the fridge MUST GO! All the leftovers get heated up, if necessary, and then everything is placed on our kitchen island. Each family member walks past with a plate and takes what they’d like, rather than serving family style.

    *Bread can be frozen in a zipper bag. When there’s enough, make croutons. Or bread pudding. Or bread crumbs for recipes calling for them.

    *Extra rice freezes well. I put it in a zipper bag, press the air out, and then lay it flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer until it is completely frozen. It doesn’t take much room in the freezer that way. It can be reheated as a side dish or used in a recipe, as already suggested.

    *I do as Amy implies: put leftovers in reheatable or servable dishes. The food would have to be put in these, anyway, for heating and/or serving. It saves on time, prevents using an abundance of foil, and rarely has to get thrown away.

    • This is a favorite at our house as well, but as the kids get older the leftovers get smaller and harder to keep as leftovers so they often get packed as lunches.

  4. I used to throw away the heels too. I found they work great for making meatballs, meatloaf and croutons. The last time I made croutons I heated them to dry in the oven low heat, the kids thought they smelled so good they sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar for their afternoon snack. Now they can’t wait for us to have enough heels to do it again.

    • I do that, too – the Pioneer Woman’s meatloaf recipe (using bread heels instead of the slices) works great! We have been eating a lot of bread lately, though, so I still have extra crusts, LOL!

      • Regenia Compton says:

        I freeze them until I have quite a few to dry and make bread crumbs for coating anything. i also freeze my breadcrumbs if I make to much.

  5. I like to save dried out bread and the heels in the freezer then use it for stuffing or bread pudding. I tend to just wrap it in the bread bag and throw it in the freezer. Sometimes I have to pull it all out and consolidate it in one bag though because it takes over my freezer! =)

    For leftover rice I like to make rice and raisins for breakfast. Place in bowl, add some milk, brown sugar and raisins, microwave for one minute, stir and eat!

  6. Left over bread pieces can be put into a container of home made cookies to keep them from drying out as fast. Uses the bread and saves your cookies. Just try and keep the bread from laying on top of the cookies, it sometimes will make them soggy.

  7. I like to save the bread in the freezer to take to the park and feed the ducks! :) Kelly