Food prices are rocketing and tens of millions of people are dependent on food stamps to feed their families. Tons of produce goes to waste instead of reaching stores and markets. You can play your small part in preventing food wastage by making your kitchen super-efficient and using up surplus food in creative and delicious ways.
1. Soft vegetables? Make soup!
Last few carrots lingering limply in the fridge? Half a swede or squash unused from last week? Just about any vegetable can be transformed into a gorgeous warming soup. This is a great way to use leftovers for maximum nutritional value.
As a basic rule, gently fry one onion and two garlic cloves before adding a few handfuls of chopped vegetables. Top up with 1-2 liters of hot stock and cook for 10-20 minutes before blending smooth.
Using vegetables of similar colors will give you a more vibrant soup – combining too many colors will turn it a muddy shade of brown. Add turmeric to orange and yellow soups for a golden hue, and red lentils for an extra protein boost to keep you full. Green vegetables combine well with creamy ingredients like potato, soy cream, or cauliflower which give the soup bulk.
2. Wrinkly fruit? Be a smoothie operator
The blender is also your friend when it comes to overripe fruit whizzed into a breakfast smoothie. You’ll enjoy the sweet flavor without the distraction of bruises or wrinkles. If there’s too much to blend now, chop all the fruit and store in freezer bags for convenient portions that you can blend over the next few days.
In winter months, you can also try gently cooking overripe fruit to make a delicious compote to top yogurt or muesli. This works especially well for apples, which quickly break down over heat.
And of course, overripe bananas are the perfect base for banana bread!
3. Interesting ice cubes
Invest in good quality ice cube trays which can be re-used many times without cracking, such as silicon ones. You can use them to create micro-portions of useful ingredients that you might not otherwise use all in one go.
For example, if you have a carton of fruit juice that’s about to turn acidic, freeze it into cubes and use them to cool other drinks, or add a fruity flavor to curry or root vegetable soup. You could also pour the juice into ice lolly molds for a thrifty sweet treat.
Do you have a bottle of wine in your fridge door that’s not going to make it to the weekend? Frozen cubes of wine are an ideal addition to Italian dishes. Throw a few red wine cubes into bolognaise, or white wine into risotto, for a delicious kick.
Herbs are often needed in quantities too small to justify buying a whole bunch for one recipe. Next time you cook with fresh herbs, finely chop the remainder while still fresh. To freeze, fill each ice cube tray with the cuttings and top up with water before popping in the freezer. These make a convenient cooking ingredient (but can’t be used as you would fresh chopped herbs).
4. Home-made ready meals
If you have some dinner left in the pan, pop it in a bag, and freeze as an individual ready meal. Even if it’s just a spoonful, you can serve it as a kid’s portion. As well as saving food, this helps prevent ‘food boredom’ when you make a large portion and feel compelled to eat it for several days in a row.
There’s no creative limit on using up leftovers, and as you can see, it’s a habit that will save you time and money too.
Image Source: Winter Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup