Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am
How long have those leftovers been in your refrigerator? We store leftover food with the best of intentions. Often, those intentions are not followed through on and we end up throwing away food that has gone bad. That’s a waste of money! Here are some ways to use up your leftovers.
Turn them Into Compost
Certain kinds of leftovers can easily be turned into compost. You can safely toss vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds into your compost bin. This means that the can of black beans that you haven’t finished, and the corn from last night’s dinner, can be composted. Eventually, those leftovers will become fertilizer for your garden.
Freeze Individual Portions
A casserole, or a crockpot full of soup, might be more food than your family can finish off in one night. If you put the leftovers into the refrigerator, they may go bad before someone eats them. A better way to prevent food waste is to freeze individual portions that can be reheated.
This is going to involve some planning ahead. Make a casserole that isn’t for tonight’s dinner. Let it cool. Cut it into individual portions that can fit into sealable freezer bags. Each individual portion can easily be thawed and re-heated later on in the week. Freezing food makes it last longer than if you just put it into the refrigerator.
Plan Meals Ahead of Time
It becomes a lot easier to use up leftovers if you know exactly what you will use them for. The rotisserie chicken you had for dinner still has a lot of food left on it. Cut the remaining chicken into small pieces that can quickly be thrown into a salad or put between bread for a sandwich. Plan to have one of those options for lunch the very next day.
Bread that has gone stale can be turned into French toast or bread pudding. Leftover steak can be cut up and added to a stir fry, with plenty of vegetables, the next day.
Store Leftovers Safely
Improperly stored leftovers can result in food poisoning. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has some excellent food safety tips. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, or frozen for 3 to 4 months. Leftovers should be stored in airtight packaging or sealed containers. Follow the directions on the USDA website to learn how to properly reheat your leftovers.