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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Managing Leftovers

Photo from "Free range stock" 
   One of my cookbooks has a chapter entitled "Magic with Leftovers," and the More with Less Cookbook ends virtually every chapter with a section called "Gathering up Fragments."  Avoiding food waste was something drilled into me by parents who grew up in post-war Europe, and I have embraced it as a form of stewardship of the resources entrusted to me.  Last week, I had to throw out some roast beef and broth that I had let linger in my refrigerator too long. Alas, I do not always succeed!
   This post is not so much about leftovers from a prepared meal, but the fragments that come as we empty a can, package or bag of food.  Leftovers in packages of non-edible products are also frequently wasted, so I will deal with them as well.  Perhaps you will find a new way to avoid waste by using one or more of the following ideas:

Food Products


  • Heels or ends of bread:  Save them for toast with honey or peanut butter. / Rip them into pieces and store in a freezer container for recipes that call for "fresh bread crumbs."  Simply thaw them for 15-20 minutes before use. / After you have used the oven to bake or cook, place the bread in the oven to dry out with the residual heat (turn off the oven).  Later, crush into bread crumbs. / Feed them to the birds.
  • Crumbs in a package of fish sticks or chicken nuggets:  Save these crumbs in the freezer until you make a casserole that calls for a bread crumb topping.  Shake these crumbs over the dish before popping into the oven.  No need to add any melted margarine.
  • Crumbs in the bottom of a box of cereal:  If the cereal is not sweetened, you can save the crumbs and use as bread crumbs on top of a casserole or along with the breading for any kind of meat. / Add the little bit of crumbs to any muffin recipe as part of the flour. / For sweetened cereal crumbs, try adding them to a serving of yogurt as a substitute for granola.
  • Tomato sauce at the bottom of a can or jar:  Rinse with a little water and add the contents to your soup or sauce or chili. / Use a rubber spatula to get to the bottom of the container and use all of it.
  • Last bit of margarine or butter: Use a rubber spatula to spread the last of it onto a slice of bread. / Use a piece of waxed paper to grease a dish or pan with it. 
  • Egg whites: Add to scrambled eggs; nobody will notice the proportions of yolk to egg being "off." / Beat until stiff and add to a cake, pancake or waffle batter for a fluffier end product.
  • Egg yolks: Cook them gently in a little water.  When firm, grate them over salads or sauces. / Add to scrambled eggs; nobody will notice the proportions of yolk to egg being "off." /  Used in fried rice or any recipe that already calls for eggs.
  • Jam in the bottom of the jar: Use a rubber spatula, if it fits, to make one more sandwich. / Add a little milk, replace the lid and shake.  Drink as a mini-milkshake.
  • Salad dressing in the bottom of the bottle:  Store upside-down in the refrigerator.  Remove the end nozzle with a butter knife to release all the remaining product. / Add a little milk, replace lid and shake. Add to mayonnaise when making a potato or pasta salad for a little extra zip. 

Non-food Products

  • Shampoo at the bottom of the bottle: Add a little warm water and shake it up.  Use extra quantities when washing hair until it is all used up. / Dilute and use as a laundry soap for lingerie or other delicates.
  • Stick deodorant:  When the deodorant no longer rolls on as it should, i.e. the plastic parts become visible, there is still a large amount of usable product we are incline to throw away.  Smooth your finger tips over it to obtain the product and then spread it in the under-arm area. Wash your hands. /  A popsicle stick can help you dig out even more.  Spread with fingers as above.
  • Toothpaste: When you cannot squeeze anymore paste out of the tube, it is not necessarily all used up. Push all the paste to the dispenser end by rolling it up.  Furthermore, use a sterile knife or pair of scissors to cut the end.  For reasons of hygiene, allow only one person to dip his/her toothbrush into the remaining toothpaste until it is gone.  (It could last a week!)
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