Things To Do With Leftover Food
One of the hardest things about adulting is cooking for one. I want to have a diverse menu for my week, but that becomes tricky when I have a strict food budget and absolutely HATE wasting food, so I buy less and end up with leftovers rather often. I mean, really, if I buy one sweet potato, I am stuck eating it for three days. That's a lot of sweet potato. (But not too much, if we're being H because sweet potatoes are the shiz.)
I'm here to tell you about things you can do with your leftover food. Listed below are some relatively simple ways to ensure that your unused food is not wasted.
Idea #1: DIY Vegetable Broth
Throw all of your unused vegetables in your slow cooker. Cover with water and cook on high for 4 hours. Strain the broth into jars. Store in the fridge for use within two weeks, or freeze it in an ice cube tray for easy-to-use broth in the future.
You can use vegetable broth in EVERYTHING. Use it in place of water when you cook pasta, quinoa, or even (savory) oatmeal. Add it to pasta sauces and soups.
What vegetables should you use?
1. Kale stalks!! This is a big one for me. I never throw away the stalk from kale anymore. Save them and use in your broth.
2. Onions. Cut into chunks and add to the broth for a flavor-kick.
3. Mushrooms. They add a softness to the mouth-feel of the broth. I don't know. It's just good, so use them.
4. Carrots. Carrots save relatively well, so you may not have extra carrots to add, but if you can spare them, they add a richness to the flavor that is really good in soups.
5. Garlic, thyme, bay leaves, etc. Add spices to the broth for even more flavor! You can experiment to figure out what you like best, just don't add too much because it will be hard to strain out at the end.
Idea #2: Juice, Juice, Baby
Have I mentioned how much I love my juicer? Well, I love my juicer. I throw all of my leftover fruit (and select veggies) into my juicer. There are so many juice recipes online, so google your ingredients and see what you can make. If all else fails, get creative. Know what flavors pair well together, and you can't go wrong.
Here are some of my favorite pairings for juice:
1. Carrots & Oranges (try adding ginger!)
2. Apples & Spinach (try adding ginger!)
3. Lemons & Cucumber (try adding ginger!)
Okay, I like ginger.
Here's my juicer, for those of you in the market....
Idea #3: Buy a compost system
Or, make your own! Click HERE for DIY composting ideas. I have a small compost bucket that I can keep in my kitchen, and I hope to have a larger system when I eventually move out of my apartment and into a house with a yard.
Here's the compost bucket I use:
Idea #4: Feed your pets
Animals love scraps. For real. I have a pet turtle and I feed him my leftover vegetables and fruits all the time. He especially loves kale leaves. It's absolutely hilarious watching him swim around his tank with a huge leaf hanging out of his mouth.
If you don't have a turtle, a dog is the next best thing. Many dogs will eat leftover food as is, but there are also options to turn leftovers into fun treats for them.
DIY Dog Treats
Step 1: Puree leftovers into a paste. This can be meat, vegetables, fruits, pasta, oatmeal, etc. Just make sure the foods are safe for dogs (ie: no chocolate!).
Step 2: Stir flour and eggs into paste as needed to create a dough-like consistency.
Step 3: Roll dough flat and use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes.
Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 20ish minutes on a greased cookie sheet.
It has taken me a lot of trial and error to learn how to stop wasting food, and even now, I mess up sometimes and end up having to throw away rotting tomatoes. The easiest way I've found to avoid this is to pay attention to my shopping list and only buy what I plan to cook for the week.