Reducing Food Waste, Part 3
Plan for leftovers.
This is difficult for many people. I get a lot of “but I don’t like leftovers!” There are a few things to address here, but the reality is that, if eating healthfully is a priority, the biggest hurdle with leftovers is perspective. So, how do we change our perspective, and our family’s perspective, on leftovers?
Realize that cooking in bulk saves lots and lots of money. It is not much more expensive to cook for two than it is for one, for four than it is for two, and so on. Chicken is often sold in quantities that leave extras, for example, and throwing it out is a huge waste of money. By preparing either full meals or some ingredients in bulk, you’ll be able to eat more healthful foods for less money.
The same is true of time. Per person, cooking time really doesn’t change much with scale until you get into really big quantities. It doesn’t take much longer to prepare a gallon of spaghetti sauce than it does a quart. You’ll be able to eat more healthy foods by eating leftovers of large batches.
Leftovers don’t have to be the nasty, old, dried up things you’re envisioning. Some things make better leftovers than others, so when planning your meals, plan the it-gets-better things as leftovers. Examples? That spaghetti sauce I mention above is a great one. Even if you don’t eat it later that week, you can freeze or can it for later. Or, re-purpose it: serve it as sauce on meatball subs, or on pizza (yes, pizza and meatless spaghetti sauce are pretty much the same thing). Cook a whole chicken, eat it for one meal, then make chicken wraps, chicken salad, or soup from the rest. It doesn’t have to be the same meal over adn over and over and over and…well, you get the idea.
That said, some meals are great the next day, or the day after that: Indian food, soups, stews, many roasts, and a whole host of other things. Those things can be either eaten for lunches, a dinner later in the week, or frozen for a quick lunch or dinner some other time.
Some things make awful leftovers: fish (generally), soups with noodles (so cook the noodles separately and toss them into the hot soup right before serving!), anything fried, anything served on bread. So, plan those for single meals.