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?”
And here are everyone’s responses:
Mandi 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 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 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 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.
Katie 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 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 (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?