So you’ve had a lovely dinner with the family, but your hard work was not entirely consumed in one sitting. This is nothing new, but many realize that leftovers may get ignored in the fridge until they go bad. Or, an excess of produce was ordered online, and it seems impossible that you will actually find a use for all of it! Sound familiar?
Studies show that Americans waste an average of one whole pound of food per day over the course of a year! Many of us clearly don’t realize it during our busy lives, however. Let’s take a look at a few new ways we can repurpose food you’ve already paid well-earned money for, shall we?
1. Have a Salvage Party
In Japan, a new trend is sweeping the nation for those who want to do something about food waste. It’s called “Salpa”, and it’s a genius party idea! At the event, a professional chef uses soon-to-be spoiled ingredients to create wonderful dishes for everyone to share. The ingredients are provided by those who show up, and this delicious social innovation solves a major problem: In Japan, 19 million tons of food gets thrown out every year!
There is now an official organization to promote this idea nationwide, headed by concept inventor Satoshi Hirai. Housewives sign up to be hosts, and people in the community come over with their leftovers to experience some culinary surprises. Salpas have been going on since 2013, but have not made it to the U.S. yet! Perhaps this is an idea you can bring to your neighborhood soon. With so much food waste, your leftovers have a brighter future than you ever realized!
2. American Casserole Classics
We all grew up with casseroles, but where did the idea come from? Well the word is actually derived from some fancy French, but this dish could not be more down to earth! Typically, a variety of chopped ingredients from the meat and veggie categories are thrown together in a shallow baking dish with a starchy binding agent. What does this look like in practice? It could mean ground beef with broccoli and pasta! Or, it might mean tuna, rice, and a springy mix of random veggies. We must mention that any of these combos have a crunchy topping to complete the hot dish, often cheese!
A casserole is ideal to use your leftover bits from the week – steamed veggies no one finished along with some chicken bits going nowhere. Dishes like this allow a creative end for things that seemed like odds and ends, and no one will know it wasn’t planned that way! Gourmet recipes have been cultivated online to bring this timeless trick into the 21st century, and it’s worth a look to see if this option is actually very appealing for your end of the week dinners!
3. Thursday Night Soup
Soups and stews are one thing every country seems to have figured out separately and independently – with so much disagreement about the meaning of life and the best style and fashion, everyone seems to know that soup simply warms and soothes the soul! And indeed, soups are a real avenue to channel your leftovers into some exciting new meals.
In this case, all you need to do is find a pot. Throwing your leftover scraps inside is a pretty easy step! Bits of seasoned meat, assorted veggies no longer at peak freshness for a crisp salad, and chunks of potatoes leftover from last night can all be added in with water, herbs, olive oil, and more to create something from nothing! The idea of Thursday night soup made out of extra chunks of everything is actually a working class favorite, and it’s time to bring this back!
4. Pickle It All
While we all might be familiar with the classic dill, cucumbers are not the only vegetable that can be pickled! Cultures outside of America like to pickle many different things – tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and more! If you have ever found yourself browsing at that tiny Russian shop in your city, you may have noticed all the jars lining the shelves with interesting pickled vegetables you never thought to combine!
If you find yourself with an excess of vegetables you haven’t found anything to do with this week, it’s a good idea to preserve them before they rapidly go bad. Leftovers from meals are one thing, but many people have leftovers from an overly ambitious shopping trip that is bound to result in waste. Research some tips for tasty combinations based on your stock. Some veggie mixes might be delightful with ginger and tumeric, and some might be better with dill or garlic. Happy pickling!
5. Juicy Fruit
One idea to make sure your vegetable scraps don’t go straight into the garbage is to start a box in your fridge of the leftover chunks. Sometimes the recipe you make calls for a bit less than what you’ve chopped, and this excess can be salvaged in one more delicious way.
If you own a juicer, you may know that fruit and veggie combinations are healthy and quite delicious. By keeping the leftovers from the early prep stages of other recipes, your “extras” box can supplement your morning drink. Sometimes you only want a small element of each flavor anyway!