It’s easy to let leftovers build up throughout the week, but remember: food that ends up in the bin is a large source of waste and contributor to greenhouse gas emissions! Even if you have the most sustainable intentions, sometimes it can be tough to think about eating the same thing for the second (or even third) day in a row. But what if we told you that using leftovers can be fun, creative, and delicious? Here's our advice for getting the most out of them:
1. It starts with storage
Freezing is your friend! Sometimes it's not convenient or fun to eat the same ingredients throughout the week, or maybe you don’t have time to repurpose them. To stop leftovers spoiling (which will certainly see them wasted), put them in an airtight container and into the freezer for later use. Freezing keeps food fresh for a little longer, and sets you up for an effortless meal prep when you're ready.
To make sure you don't forget about them, label the container with the date and pre-emptively plan the next meal you'll use it in. Foods with high water content, like a berry or tomato, will be squishy when removed from the freezer, but are still perfectly delicious and safe to cook with. Frozen fruits and vegetables are perfect to use in a stir-fry, smoothies and shakes, sauces, soups, and more!
2. Making the most out of leftovers
When repurposing leftovers to be eaten again, you’ve got options! For simple meals, like a pasta dish, the microwave is a quick and easy option. But, if you’re looking to give the flavours a refresh there are ways to create an entirely new dish – try:
- Chopping up meats and vegetables for use in soups, tacos, stir frys, or salads
- Blitzing roast veggies into a smoothie; cooking them into omelets, frittatas or quiches; making dips, sauces or spreads; adding them to fried rice or quesadillas; or baking them into muffins or bread
- Creating a breakfast burrito using leftover bacon and eggs
- Using leftover roast chicken in sandwiches, chili, nachos, soup, enchiladas, pot pies or pad thai
- Turning overripe fruits into jams, juices, cakes, and breads
- Repurposing mashed potatoes (and the accompanying meats and veggies) in a shepherd's pie, potato gnocchi, potato pancakes, casseroles, or pierogies
- Adding leftover pasta to a hearty and delicious soup
3. Be honest with yourself
This is the hard part. If you've got leftover fruit and vegetables you know you won't get around to re-using, it's better to plan ahead and get them into your compost bin or the worm farm to recycle the food scraps. While worms will eat produce that's going bad, if it's too rotten when added they may not eat it – instead leaving it to slowly decompose, possibly emitting smells or attracting pests.
Making the decision early will guarantee no leftovers go to waste – whether it's eaten by the worms, the garden or by you!