Stop the waste and save more money

Studies have found that as much as 35% of our household groceries end up in our landfills and sewer.  This is obscene considering that so many people globally are going hungry.  It also means that not only are we throwing away good food, we’re literally pouring good money down the drain to the tune of $1,600 a year!

I love to eat and love to eat-out.   I very rarely let food go to waste and that include my leftovers from restaurant meals.   Often I’m able to make a ‘fresh’ meal for myself from good bits of leftover steaks, or burgers, or even salads.   It is quite simple, really.   All that is required is a bit of knowledge and throw in some flexibility with your cooking hat.

Here are some ideas that often work for me –

  1. Leftover BBQ or roast chicken – de-bone what’s left of the chicken; freeze the bones to make broth later (when you have collected enough bones).
    What to do with the leftover chicken meat?
    – slice the chicken meat and stir fry with whatever vegetables that’s in the fridge, garlic, salt, pepper, and whatever sauce you can drum up.  Use tomatoes, soy, bbq, lime juice, pesto, etc. to make the sauce … the sky’s the limit and Pinterest is a good place to look for inspiration.   Serve with a side of starch for a healthy simple meal;
    – slice the chicken meat and saute with onions and garlic.  Add to prepared spaghetti sauce and serve over pasta for an Italian meal;
    – slice the chicken meat, add chopped red onions, and mix with a bit of mustard and mayonnaise.   Put between 2 slices of toast with sliced tomatoes for a great sandwich;
    – pan fry the chicken leftovers.  Serve it with a sauteed mushroom cream sauce (using sliced mushrooms, a can of condensed cream soup and enough milk to your preferred consistency), and boiled potatoes for a delicious meal.
  2. Leftover french fries, hash browns and potatoes – they’re often hard and gritty after refrigeration.   I found a couple of great ways to use them up without having them end up in the garbage bin.
    – chop up the fries into smaller pieces and add them to soups and stews;
    – soak the hardened potatoes in a bit of milk and water, microwave until soft.    Mash up the mixture, add cooked bacon bits, chives, a bit of flour and a beatened egg.   Pan fry to make savoury potato cakes.   Serve warm with a cool sour cream dip.
  3. Any leftovers that are savory – puree what you have, add broth and cream, heat thoroughly and serve this as a hearty soup.

I recently calculated my actual cost of a cooked supermarket BBQ or roast chicken.   It provides 3 meals for 2 people, and works out to less than $3 per person per meal to completely use up the chicken.  This is based on a $10 chicken, plus $8 for other (portioned) side ingredients like vegetables, starch, broth, dairy and spice products.

Note:  Practise food safety, always re-cook all leftovers thoroughly before serving.