Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Simple Kitchen Shortcuts: Leftover Ingredients

I used to throw out food and leftover items in my fridge pretty frequently. Ever since our unemployment, I have tried very hard to not waste anything, even small amounts of food. Although I do still have to throw items out if they're left in the fridge too long, it happens much less often than it used to. Here are three tips you can use in your kitchen to help cut down on the amount of food you waste.

Have a Plan
When I open a can of something and only use 1/2 of it, I try to think of a recipe I can make the next day or later that week that will use up the other 1/2 can. It's usually not too hard to find something to use it in but I have to be intentional about a plan or the item will usually get shoved to the back of the fridge and thrown away a week or two later.

Increase Your Recipe
We makes crepes frequently and the recipe calls for 1 cup of evaporated milk. Well, one can holds 1 1/2 cups of milk. I don't use evaporated milk all that often so I now take to making one and a half recipes of crepes so that I can use the 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk in one recipe rather than putting the remaining 1/2 cup in the fridge where it will be eventually be thrown out 99% of the time. We have no problem using the extra crepes so increasing the recipe works for us.

Freeze It
I frequently resort to freezing my leftover liquids. As I did in my onion ice cube post, I pull out my trusty ice cube trays when I need to freeze something in small amounts so I can easily add it to a later recipe. I don't buy whipping cream very often because it's very expensive and I can usually substitute milk in its place. However, when I do purchase cream for a recipe, I usually have some left over and I definitely don't want to throw it away. Because I don't know exactly when I'll use it again, I might leave it in my fridge for a few days trying to think of a recipe to use it in. If I don't have one in mind, I'll just pour the remaining cream into an ice-cube tray and freeze the cubes for later use. Just remember to pop them out and bag and label them so they don't absorb any freezer smells and also so you remember what is in the bag and how old it is. This works great for cream, broth, wine and whatever else you can think of that freezes well and you will probably be able to use later. It's easy to add these types of cubes to stew or saute dishes to add a little more flavor to whatever you're cooking.

What do you end up doing with your leftover ingredients that are perishable?


  1. if it's fruits or vegetables that go bad, i compost them. this way i feel less guilty about the waste, since they'll be increasing the fertility of my garden soil. :) as i still don't have a real compost pile, my current method is to reuse those clear plastic bags that the grocery store offers for bagging up fruits & veggies, and stick anything compostable in them (banana peels, potatoe peels, tea bags, coffee grounds & filters, etc.). i store them in the fridge so they don't stink up the kitchen (and slows down the decay so i don't have to take out compost every day). one drawer in my fridge is devoted to compost. :) oh, and then one day i take all the bags out to the garden and bury them right in a bed where i'll plant something in a few months. a.k.a. feeding the worms.

  2. Great idea Georgia! Do you empty the bags when you bury the compost?

    I've been interested in composting for a couple years now. At our home we're currently at, we don't have room for a compost pile. I've been wanting to purchase a composter that includes worms for the past couple years. It's supposed to be very efficient and used indoors. They only cost about $99 but I haven't had an extra $99 to spend. Maybe someday...

  3. Great tips, Megan! Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying "hi"! So sweet! :) You're actually the first one to stop by b/c I haven't officially launched yet, I was so excited to see your comment! But then I had to erase all my old blog posts b/c they didn't fit the "theme". Anywho, keep up the great work!

  4. yes, i dig a hole and dump each bag out into the hole, then cover with dirt. hopefully enough to keep animals from discovering it. so far so good.
    i tried worm composting for a few months, an inexpensive way, made my own little tub with them. but it wasn't smell free for indoors.