December 27, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter
The average American household throws out between $500 and $2,000 worth of food per year. Most of the food we waste is due to spoilage; buying too much and using too little. However, by storing food carefully or preserving it at its peak to enjoy later, there are creative ways to minimize waste and put your leftovers to use.
-The problem: You bought more loaves than you need
-Use it now: Croutons. Cut bread into cubes, toss with a small amount of olive oil & salt, and toast in a 275 degree oven for ~20 minutes until golden brown. This can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Use in soups, salads, or over pasta.
-Save it for later: While it’s fresh, place a sliced loaf right in the freezer. Pull out the slices at you need them and pop in the toaster. The freezer is a great preserving tool.
2. Seasonal Vegetables
-The problem: They somehow tend to hid in the dark corners of the fridge until they’re beyond revival.
-Use it now: The flavors of most vegetables mess well. Cut veggies into bite size pieces, sauté a diced onion in a soup pot, and add the rest. Mix in vegetable broth and simmer until tender. Purée or eat chunky.
-Save it for later: Make your own frozen veggies. Prepare them as you’d cook them, except stop when they’re halfway done. You can steam or boil green beans, corn, broccoli, and chard, then quickly rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, and drain and pack in freezer-safe bags.
3. Fresh Fruit
-The problem: Buying fruit in season is smart because the vitamin content of seasonal produce is at its peak; however, we often purchase more than we consume.
-Use it now: Fruit salad virtually needs no recipe since, like vegetables, most go together. Cup up what you have (skip bananas, which go mushy). Add 1/4 tsp. vanilla, a good helping of citrus (to slow browning), and a drizzle of honey. Set the bowl front and center in your fridge for snacking.
-Save it for later: Most soft fruit (berries, kiwi, grapes) freeze well for up to 9 months. Firmer fruit, like apples and pears, can be simmered in a covered pot, with a squeeze of lemon juice, and a splash of water. When cool, transfer to a container and freeze.
-What about bananas? Peel ripe bananas, break into chunks, and place in a freezer- safe bag. You won’t like them thawed (too mushy) but you can add frozen pieces to smoothies.
-Chop herbs and add them to ice cube trays with just a little water, then drop the cubes into the pan when a recipe calls for that type of herb. You can also freeze herbs by placing them in plastic containers. Certain herbs, such as basil, will turn black, but the flavor will still be intact.
-Extra basil or parsley can be used to make pesto. Or submerge herbs into a bottle of white-wine vinegar, the flavor will spruce up your salads for months.
-Dry herbs by hanging them by their stems in a cool, dry location, then nce they’re dry, remove them from the stems and store them in air-tight containers.