Did you know each Canadian throws out a pound of food every single day? That’s a lot of careless waste, not to mention a waste of hard-earned money! These tasty ideas for using up odds and ends found in almost every family kitchen will stretch your groceries further, save you money and make you feel good about using up every last bit.
1. Jam: Make a fruity vinaigrette from that hard-to-reach morsel of jam. Just add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Seal the jar and shake until combined.
- Tip: Cross-contamination is the biggest culprit when it comes to condiments going bad. Using a clean utensil for each jar will help extend its shelf life.
2. Plain yogourt or sour cream: Always throwing out that last tablespoon from the tub? Make herbed soup cubes—frozen little bundles of fresh herbs and dairy that add creaminess and a punch of flavour to your favourite soups. Whirl a handful of fresh herbs in a food processor until finely chopped. Add about 1 cup (250 mL) of yogourt or sour cream (or both) and process until smooth. Spoon into an ice cube tray and freeze. Drop the cubes into any soup you’d add a dollop of yogurt to: borscht, curried sweet potato, mushroom or cream of tomato.
3. Cheese: Grate up the ends of cheeses and place in a freezer-safe bag — it’s okay to mix up all different kinds together. Sprinkle cheese blend right from the freezer onto casseroles, pastas or rice.
- Tip: Unless your family devours cheese within a week, pull it out of its plastic packaging, wrap it in parchment or wax paper and store loosely in a plastic bag. This will allow your cheese to breathe yet keep moist, extending its shelf life for a few extra weeks.
4. Cereals and crackers: Crush up broken crackers or unsweetened cereal bits, such as corn flakes. Use them to make a crispy crust for pan-fried fish or homemade chicken fingers.
5. Bread: In a food processor, blend the unwanted ends of bread into crumbs, place in a zip-top bag and store in the freezer. Use crumbs to thicken soups and sauces, or mix them with butter for a quick casserole topping. You can also make your own burgers with onions, spices, eggs and breadcrumbs for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Tip: While keeping bread in the fridge will prevent it from going mouldy, the cool temperature dehydrates it quickly, making it hard and stale. A quick warm up in the microwave will freshen up the texture.
6. Limp lettuce: Plunge lettuce into ice water with a little apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes.
- Tip: Not in the mood for salad? Lettuces with large leaves can be used up as wraps, while heartier lettuces like romaine and arugula can be tossed into the last few minutes of a stir-fry.
7. Wilting broccoli: Place the stem in a jar or glass of water in the fridge. The water will travel up the stem and perk up the crown.
- Tip: Don’t discard that stem! It’s just as sweet and delicious as broccoli florets. Slice it up lengthwise and add to a stir-fry, or boil and blend it up for soup.
8. Wrinkly mushrooms: Fry them up for pizza toppings, or slice and freeze to use up later in stews, sauces and casseroles. Even woody shiitake stems can be saved for soup stock.
- Tip: The key to storing mushrooms is in controlling moisture levels. If your fridge is too damp, they go slimy; too dry, they shrivel. Keep mushrooms in the package in which you bought them if it has an aerated plastic top, or store in a brown paper bag, which allows them to breathe.