17 Oct 2023
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How many times have you discovered a forgotten container in your fridge that’s been stashed there for weeks? For all kinds of reasons, including saving money, it makes sense for us to get the most out of the food we’re buying.
Here are some tips for using up those extras and getting the most out of your weekly shop:
Create leftovers purposefully
- When you’re planning meals, think about what the extras can become. If you prepare twice the vegetables you’ll need for tonight’s dinner, you can use them in a soup or pasta dish later in the week. Use leftover roast chicken on sandwiches or cook twice as much rice as you need and freeze the extra for later use.
Store leftovers smartly
- Use glass storage containers – they’re reusable, sustainable, and allow you to see what’s inside. For freezing, use ziplock bags (which can be washed and re-used), and label and date the contents on a piece of tape.
Dedicate a leftovers night
- Full fridge or freezer? Dedicate one night a week to eating what's already in there.
Turn dinner into lunch
- Another money and time-saver for busy people: Stash a portion of dinner in a container and pack it for lunch the next day. With some planning and no extra effort, you can create a week’s worth of work lunches.
- Turn extra pasta or cooked vegetables into a frittata. Blend cooked vegetables with a can of whole tomatoes and create a veggie-packed sauce for pasta. Create burritos with leftover cooked rice, meat, and vegetables, and top them with sour cream and salsa.
- The cooked vegetables that you served as a side dish one night can become soup on another day. In a blender, puree the veg with 3 or 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth, then warm the soup in a pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and finish the soup with pesto, olive oil, or croutons.
Salvage stale bread
- If that loaf of good bakery bread loses its freshness after a day or two, do what the Italians do: Halve the loaf, drizzle it with good olive oil, and rub it with the cut side of a halved ripe tomato. Season the bread with salt and pepper, wrap in foil, and bake until warm.
Stash vegetable scraps
- As an alternative to composting, keep vegetable scraps to make stock. Keep a ziplock bag in the freezer and add trimmings e.g. carrot and fennel tops, ends of onions or leeks, tomato cores, stems of herbs and greens, and corn cobs. Any produce that’s past its prime in the fridge can go in, as well. When the bag is full, defrost the contents, dump them into a pot, and add water to cover. Simmer for 2 hours, strain — and you’ll have better-than-store-bought veggie stock (which can be frozen in that same ziplock bag).
Portion and store
- Many food products come in extra-large sizes, which can be more economical. Get the most out of a large loaf of bread by freezing it, and only taking out what you need each day. Tortillas, pita bread, and similar items can be saved the same way. Likewise, divide money-saving large packages of meat into portions and freeze them.
To help you in your quest to get the most for your money when it comes to cooking, check out our full range of long-lasting, budget-friendly kitchen essentials here.