We’ve all done it: you buy a bunch of mint for a recipe, then use only a third of it. The rest sits in the bottom of the fridge, only to get chucked out at the end of the week when it’s become tired and wilted. Oh well, it’s just one bunch of mint. But if that’s happening with several different ingredients, it doesn’t take long before you’re throwing out a lot of food.
The limited shelf life of fresh produce is one of the leading reasons my clients give for not cooking or eating enough vegetables. I understand just what they mean. I used to waste a lot of food, too. At the end of the week I’d find several items lurking in the bottom of the fridge, well past their best, and they’d get thrown away. Annoyed by this, I’ve changed my ways over the past few years. Now virtually nothing gets chucked in our house. Here’s how I do it.
Buy a couple of herb plants and grow them on a sunny windowsill so you have ready access to small amounts. Use handfuls of leftover herbs in salads. Hardier herbs such as rosemary and thyme can be dried.
At the end of the week, roast leftover vegetables in the oven. You can do this with almost anything, except leafy greens.
Chop them into roughly 2cm-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil, then roast in the oven for 30–40 minutes. Pair these with meat or fish, scatter with leftover herbs and fetta, use as a home-made pizza topping, or stir through cooked pasta.
Spinach & Greens
Ignore the recipe and add half or whole bunches of spinach and other greens to your dinner. They may look unwieldy in the pan, but they wilt when cooked and their flavour won’t dominate your meal. Fresh greens can also be frozen.
It’s easy to cook too much rice and end up with some left over. Leftover rice needs to be handled carefully, as it can potentially cause food poisoning. Put any left over in the fridge straight after cooking, so it cools rapidly, and use it within three days.
I try to avoid the problem of cooking too much rice in the first place by measuring out the amount I need. Although leftover rice also makes a great breakfast when it’s combined with fruit, yoghurt and a sprinkling of nuts.
It’s quite hard to buy a small amount of cheese. So if you’re not a big dairy eater, freeze leftover bits of hard, yellow cheese such as parmesan and cheddar. Cut it into useable portions first, then freeze, either in a block or grated.
Leftover milk can be frozen for up to three months. Pour into a zip-lock bag or small plastic container and place in the freezer before it has passed its use-by date.
How do you use up leftovers?
|Beverly Johnson on February 15 2013 at 11:59:29 AM
I like your wonderful ideas for using leftovers. I didn't think milk could b frozen successfully, as it is always Watery when thawed.
|Elaine on September 05 2011 at 04:14:50 AM |
Excellent tips, Kathryn, creative, tasty and money-saving. I especially like your idea of using roasted vegetables as a pizza topping. This morning to a frittata I added leftover greens (chard). They already looked a bit wilted after a few days in the crisper but no matter.
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