Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Resourceful to the bone - making the most of your leftovers and stretching your food budget

Everyone is feeling the cost of food rising. If you want to save or cut down on food waste, maximizing your food is the best place to start. Packaged, processed, and convenience food might seem easier, but it is absolutely not cheaper and it is 100% not more environmentally friendly. Individually packaged shit is yikes. With the cost of everything up, now is the time to make the food go further, and resourcefulness and leftovers are the best way to win this battle. 

People have a hard time finding the time to cook from scratch. This is not surprising given that most households are running 24/7. Here's an oldie but still relevant from me: my meal prep tips for an easier life. When we do have the opportunity to cook, we've got to make sure that those meals go further - cook once, eat twice or three times. Leftovers are an absolute treasure trove of opportunities. 

Redefine “Leftovers” As “Ingredients”
What you make the first time is not how you have to consume it the second or third time. When we have a bunch of leftover vegetables, this doesn't just have to be a side dish but can be the foundation for something else completely. For example, cooked vegetables and a can of tomatoes instantly create a healthy pasta sauce. You can blend your vegetables into an amazing soup or add vegetables to a frying pan with a few beaten eggs and you've got yourself a very healthy frittata. 

Ditch the Recipe and Use What You Have
You don't need to follow recipes exactly. Substitute with what you have in your fridge/freezer/pantry and wing it. It will be edible 90% of the time, I promise. 

Make Your Dinner Your Lunch
Another amazing way to save time and money with your leftovers is to leave a bit of your main meal aside so you've got some lunch for the next day. It only requires a little bit of extra planning and you can create a week's worth of healthy lunches for work or school. Even if you've got only a tiny bit left after your main meal, cook and add more vegetables, rice, quinoa, or pasta to bulk it out. 

Have a Leftovers Night
If you have a fridge stocked with bits and bobs of leftover foods, this is a money saving opportunity. Putting all those ingredients together may seem like a recipe for something particularly nasty, but creativity is the road to deliciousness. If you've got leftover ham, rather than slapping it in a sandwich with some mustard, turn it into a delicious bean soup. There are two ways to make 15 bean soup, including a crock pot. If you're short on time, take the easier route. All you need to do is put it on in the morning before you start your day and when you're done, it's done! 

Storing Your Leftovers Better
Food lasts longer if it's packaged to store correctly. Be savvy with how you store your leftovers. Freezing any leftover vegetables in airtight containers or ziploc bags is a simple way to ensure that you are storing everything and not wasting a signal morsel of food. Certain foods don't store in the freezer very well, but when it comes to vegetables, make sure that you label and date the contents so you can take them out and cook them up before they get that horrible freezer taste

Make Stock and Broth With Any Scraps
Bone broth is a very trendy food item these days, but rather than paying through the nose for it from a  store, make it yourself. Because bone broth is just something that everybody's grandparents made to ensure they ate nose to tail but is also an amazing way to ensure there's more flavor in your food. It's such a simple thing to do: all you need to do is keep any leftover bones and freeze them. When you have enough, take them out of the freezer and put them in a slow cooker for 24-hours with a bit of apple cider vinegar and a few herbs and you've got an amazing broth that can be a stock for soups and can even add flavor to your scrambled eggs. Let me know if you want to talk bone broth making.

Don't Throw Your Bread Away! 
If you buy high-quality bread it can lose its freshness after a couple of days. You can freeze it, or  salvage it as a side dish. Cut the loaf in half, drizzle some olive oil onto it, rub the side with half a ripe tomato, season it with some salt and pepper, and bake it in the oven until it's warm. Enjoy with soup or by itself.

It's the little things that add up to savings. What are some ways you're stretching your grocery budget right now?

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