If you have a way to compost and a garden to use that compost in, you might not be as concerned with this. But as an urban dweller in an apartment, I get hives at the idea of throwing veggies into the landfill. So. Wrong. It’s probably a bit clinical, but I could have worse obsessions I suppose.
So in order to avoid the wasted food blues, I have several strategies for saving food (mostly fruit and vegetables) from the garbage. This also will save you money. And if buying produce is an unusual event for you, this might help you too.
1) Make Soups and Stirfries: Soups and stirfries are amazing because anything goes and they are fast and nutritious! Especially soups & stews. One of my favourites is ‘orange soup’ which features carrots, yams and orange lentils. Somehow it seems easier to me if everything is the same colour. And soups are even better when use stock that you made (see below…)
2) Plan your Meals: I need to mention this one, just because I know my tendency – when I go to the Farmers Market and there is so much beautiful produce. I get so excited that I buy more than I can use – and ignore the fact that I have plans for the next few evenings and won’t have time to make dinner. That’s a waste of money and food. Double boo-urns.
3) Make Your Own Veggie Stock: One trick is to gather end bits when you chop veggies. Another is to rescue slightly wilted veggies before they demise. With this rescued veg bits you can either make stock right away or freeze them til you have enough to make stock. Don’t worry if they ain’t pretty – as long as they are not rotten. Use the ends of carrots, ends of onions, and even onion skin (it gives stock that rich colour). When you have enough to make veggie stock, throw it all into a big pot with water and some kombu. Include a couple tomatoes! Cook for 45 minutes or so, then strain. Freeze or can the stock in appropriate sizes (I find 2 cups is good for 2 person household). Now you only need to remember to add them to future soups and stews (see tip 1 😉
4) Freeze it Realistic: Consider portion sizes – think about what you would like to be able to pull out of the freezer? This also is where labelling is important, and having a way to remember to use those things you freeze. This might mean you blanch that extra swiss chard before packaging it in portion sizes. Or chop the rhubarb so it is ready to be compiled into a fruit crumble. This works well with budget conscious folks – buy when something is on sale, and preserve it. Buying something out of season tends to be 1) from FAAAAR away (thus not sustainable) and 2) more expensive. On the topic of freezing – I like to freeze single portions of the extra soups/stews to take for lunch.
5) Bread’s next Role: When that bread gets dry and you don’t want to use it in the traditional bread way (sandwiches, toast), don’t throw it out yet! As long as it isn’t moldy, that is. Green fuzzy lifeforms may or may not be good for your health. That bread can have a new future as either Breadcrumbs or Bread Pudding. Breadcrumbs – just bust up in blender/food processor/hammer and sturdy bag and freeze. Label it! Alternatively, Bread Pudding: cut that bread into cubes and throw it into the freezer if you aren’t ready to use it yet. To make bread pudding (savoury or sweet) you mix 2 eggs : 1/3 cup of milk, add salt/pepper or sugar, and mix with couple cups or so of bread cubes. Let sit for at least 1 hour in the fridge, or overnight. The bread should get all soaked in the egg/milk mixture. You can add other things like cheese/meat/sundried tomatoes or chocolate chips/berries/raisins. Smoosh it into a dish and bake until the middle springs back nicely (30mins – 1hr depending on size of dish)
That’s all for now!