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Monday, July 13, 2015

Creative Ways to Use Leftovers and Scraps

Here are ten (or more) ways to keep food from being wasted...starting with bread.

Stale bread
• Toast, then cube for croutons or crumble for crumbs. Freeze for later.

Freeze whole bread and pull out for:
• Grilled cheese sandwiches.
• French toast.

Green Onions
• Save the tops (roots) and grow new green onions in a pot. You can do this indefinitely.

Black bananas
You know the feeling. You just can't eat one more banana and now they're overly ripe. Freeze them. If you have three of them, save them for banana bread. Here's a recipe.

It's hard to believe we have left over desserts, but most recipes make too much for two people. If I can't halve the recipe, I give half away. 

Some desserts, like cookies or brownies are easy to freeze and taste fine when thawed.

Canned food
I discovered I really didn't like canned black beans. Crazy, I know! And I had bought a bunch of them on sale--certain I would like them. 

After the first can, the rest went to a food bank.

Orange and lemon peels
I've mentioned this one before. Whenever we eat citrus, I save the peels so I can zest it later for other recipes.

Limes: I've never used lime zest, so I just toss the whole (used) fruit into the garbage disposal. Makes it smell nice and fresh.

Chicken carcass
Once you've picked that chicken clean, boil it and make chicken broth. MUCH better than the canned stuff. I then pour the broth into an ice cube tray or into small plastic tubs in 1-2 cup servings.

Extra chicken meat: Make chicken salad for the next day. An easy and fast lunch.

Beer and wine
We always add a cup of red wine into our homemade pasta sauce. Really gives it another level of flavor. Beer is good in chili. That might be sacrilege to some folks, but we don't drink enough to polish off an entire bottle in a timely fashion.

Coffee grounds and (crushed) egg shells
Sprinkle them in your garden. 

There are only two of us so it's easy to waste food if we're not careful. To make matters worse, we don't always have the same taste in food. 

I won't drink beer or Dr. Pepper, and pumpkin pie makes me grimace. Every year I make Greg a pumpkin pie. I've never tasted it, but it must be good because he always asks for one. LOL!

Is your family easy to please at the table or does everyone have different likes and dislikes with the dishes you prepare?

What's your favorite food? Least favorite?
I adore frog legs, and Mexican food.


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Really good ideas here, especially the ones about the green onions and the citrus peels. Thanks for sharing!

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: I'm lazy, but I'm also cheap. :)

I'm always looking for ways to stretch food (as long as they're easy).

Diane Carlisle said...

Thank you for these tips! I'm so going to do the green onion thing.

Also, try the pumpkin pie...with whipped cream. You will love it! :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Great tips! You can also make bread pudding with the stale bread, buns, etc. Overripe bananas make awesome shakes and smoothies, too. Slice the pumpkin pie and freeze individual pieces. Then Greg can have it whenever he wants and you don't have to deal with it.

I usually eat leftovers for lunch. If I've made too too much - because I learned to cook from a woman who had to feed 5 kids - I freeze the leftovers.

We're both pretty easy to please, but with just the two of us, I don't get as elaborate as often as I used to.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: That's the way Greg likes his pumpkin pie. I just don't like the taste of pumpkin. But I like pumpkin seeds. Go figure.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: Good tip on the bread pudding! That's another dessert Greg likes but I won't eat myself.

Mike Keyton said...

You adore Frogs' legs. No comment, Maria

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I've done a lot of these, as well as taking leftovers along with fresh vegetables I need to use and making soup. There are only two of us now and it is sometimes hard not to make too much like I did when there were big boys to feed.

Angela Brown said...

You've got some really great ideas for minimizing the food waste.

Like you, there's only 2 in my household. And my kiddo is a picky eater. And I'm not exactly Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, so we try to minimize the waste with food planning. I'm learning to turn our dinners into lunches for me so it reduces what I spend at lunch for work.

As for a favorite food, it's so hard to pick just one lol!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I do most of the things you're mentioned. For cookies, usually when I make up a batch, I freeze half the dough and then can pull it out and have fresh cookies smelling up the house again. I have to remember to pour my coffee grounds in one of my beds outside.
Susan Says

betty said...

I liked all these tips; I didn't realize you could freeze bananas. I'll have to try that the next time I have some that are ripe.

My family is pretty easy to please food wise; not too fussy. Son has had some girlfriends that were a bit fussy, but his fiancee is an easy pleaser when it comes to food (which is a good thing compared to some of the ones in the past, LOL). I have so many favorite foods, LOL. I never met a pasta or a potato that I didn't like :)


Sandra Almazan said...

I'm vegetarian, while my husband and son are carnivores. Usually I make a vegetarian dish for myself (which my husband will also eat) and make some meat or fish on the side for the males.

I need to be better about using up fresh fruits/veggies before they go bad, as well as herbs. I don't know how many times I've bought herbs, used a little for one dish, and then forgot about the rest until it got moldy. Anyone know how well fresh herbs freeze?

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I have a great, great grandmother who was French. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Karen: When you're used to cooking big meals, it's hard to scale down. Same thing when you go from eating what you want to eating sensibly.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: You have my sympathies. Picky eaters would exasperate me.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I've frozen dough in the past, but it always gets buried and then I forget I have it.

Maria Zannini said...

Betty: Bananas are ridiculously easy to freeze. Just stick them in there, unpeeled.

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: Most herbs freeze real well. I put them in ice cube trays with a little olive oil. For fresh use, I put herbs like cilantro in a jar with water. Trim the stalks, then wrap the head in plastic to keep oxygen at a minimum.

They keep far longer than normal.

Anonymous said...

These are excellent ideas, Maria! We do most of them on a regular basis, although I'm not great about saving citrus peels. I should do that - I'm assuming you can freeze them until needed? I didn't know that about the onions - love to give it a try.

I have a rule in my house: never throw food away. Leftovers ALWAYS get divided into servings and then into the freezer. I also save most of the trimmings from chopping vegetables. I make sure they are clean and dry, and keep a bag in the freezer to put them in. Whenever I want vegetable broth, I grab a handful and have at it. After I make the broth, the trimmings go in the composte pile.

I do need to get me some ice cube trays. Would make saving small amounts of liquids much easier.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Frog legs, really?

I know it sounds boring, but I love bread. There are so many different types and if any dares to go stale, you can toast it!

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Frog legs are one of those delicacies that I only get on special occasions, like my birthday. I'm picky though. They have to be prepared in a garlic herb butter sauce.

I may love them, but I rarely get them. The restaurant where I used to order them that way doesn't even serve them now unless you ask. One of these days, they're going to turn me down. :(

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene: I always pick up ice trays at garage sales for 10 cents a piece or less.

You can also freeze almost anything you need in small amounts like tomato paste, milk, fruit juice. That's why I keep so many trays handy.

Lynn Viehl said...

I sun-dry citrus peels to use in homemade potpourri. During the winter I also make old-fashioned pomanders by studding overripe citrus with cloves. If you want a change from banana bread try a banana cupcake recipe and top with either cream cheese or chocolate frosting.

I try to make meals everyone likes, but I keep frozen leftover single portions of everyone's favorite dishes for nights when I make something that they might not like, i.e. a bowl of chili for my guy when my daughter and I want to have crab, which he doesn't like. Then I just scale down dinner to two and warm up chili for him. When I run out of frozen leftovers there's always the emergency turkey pot pie, too. :)

My favorite food is scallops sauteed with a little garlic and lemon juice. I could probably eat them until I explode, I think. Least favorite, caviar. Tried it once and that was enough, forever.

Maria Zannini said...

I try to freeze leftovers but I have a picky husband. If I don't eat them, they don't get et. :)

Love scallops. Actually, there's not much seafood I don't like.

Definitely an acquired taste. I had really good caviar once. The grocery store brands pale in comparison. It's no wonder so many people hate it. Most of it is awful...and I can no longer afford the good stuff.

PS Belated happy birthday! Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, ref great grandmother - fascinating, I didn't know that. Still one's not obliged to relive another's past : ) Than again, farming frogs would probably be easier than farming goat - except for the herding part. On a serious note. Good Palestinian or Greek extra virgin olive oil can make the stalest toasted bread a feast for a king.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

R and I both hate to cook. We eat a lot of sandwiches. Like, a lot. Probably an illegal amount.

I do love sandwiches.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I wish I knew more about my ancestry. I was told I had French and Greek blood mixed with Spanish sometime before my great grandmother immigrated to Mexico.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: That may change with time. After a while I got bored and ventured past sandwiches.

I don't particularly enjoy cooking, but I love to try new dishes--as long as the ingredients aren't too exotic.

I like to stay in my comfort zone of tastes.