After a great holiday meal, we always look forward to leftovers. Delicious, easy, cheap and good for the environment. What more could you want?
What does this have to do with sustainability and climate change? Feasting on leftovers reduces food waste—which means less landfill, less energy, land, water and materials used to grow, raise and transport food that’s never even eaten. Food waste in the US adds up to 2.6% of US Greenhouse gas emissions, according to NRDC because of all the resources that go into growing and raising food. Food waste is a big issue; ccording the Environmental Protection Agency, 36 million tons of food was landfilled in 2011.
The solutions, starting at home, can be easy, economical and delicious.
Here are a few ‘recipes’ for using leftovers*:
- veggie hash: chop up any leftover cooked vegetables along with a savory protein beans, tofu, seitan, leftover tofurkey or meat and sauté them in olive oil for 10 minutes—until heated through and slightly browned— add salt and pepper if needed and serve with leftover toasted or grilled bread or rolls. (Need more help? Use one of these hash recipes from Eating Well as a guide, simply substitute what you have on hand– and you can skip the eggs.)
- veggie pot pie: chop up any leftover cooked vegetables, and some beans, tofu, seitan or leftover tofurky or meat and put them in a pie plate. Pour in any leftover sauce or gravy. If you don’t have gravy, make some by sautéing a little chopped onion in olive oil, adding some corn starch or flour, then whisking in some rice milk, stock or water. Cover the mélange with leftover mashed potatoes or a simple biscuit crust and bake for 45 minutes to an hour in a 350 degree oven. (If you want a more complete recipe; try these recipes for pot pie and shepherd’s pie from Isa Chandra Moskowitz.)
- soup: chop up any leftover cooked vegetables beans, tofu, seitan or leftover tofurky or meat and put them in a pot with stock or water. Add salt, pepper and other spices as needed. Heat through and serve with leftover bread or rolls. (Here’s a basic soup recipe from Martha Stewart.)
- fresh veggie salad or sandwich: chop up any leftover fresh vegetables, mix them in new combinations with dried fruit or nuts for a salad. Put the veggies on toast with hummus for a sandwich.
- dessert: if there are any leftover sweets….. freeze them before they disappear.
*These are mostly vegan, but all of these ideas will work with leftover meat added, too.
Keep it cool
Get started by putting your leftovers in the fridge promptly; click here for more details from Michigan State University Extension. If you have more leftovers than you can use, freeze them. A great reference for preserving food comes from University of Georgia Extension; here’s a link to their guide to freezing leftovers.
Værsågod! (Norwegian for ‘dig in!’)