So much money gets spent on food – and so much of that food goes to waste, whether it’s a head of cauliflower bought but not used before going bad, or leftovers tossed because they have sat in the fridge for too long and are taking up space. The good news is, much of this waste can be avoided with some knowledge and planning.
More and more people are thinking about how to create less food waste – in fact, “Closing the Food Loop” has been identified as a Canadian food trend for 2018 by the Loblaw Food Council. Here are my tips for developing habits that will help to reduce food waste at home.
Buy only what you need. Meal planning has an essential role to play here. Figure out what you plan to cook and eat before going to the grocery store, in order to avoid buying items that may not get used. For example, buying a head of broccoli but not having any recipes or snacks planned that use it, may result in having it sit in the fridge until it goes bad. Do not spend money filling the green bin!
Use leftovers. I always recommend people cook larger batches of certain foods that they are making already, so they can plan for leftovers (this can also make your life easier on busy weeknights). However, it is important to decide in advance what you want to do with these foods, so that they will actually get used. Also ask yourself, will they get eaten within a few days? Or can they be frozen? Here are a few ideas for how to use leftovers – make cooked potatoes into potato salads or hash, use extra meats for sandwiches, in soups, in stir fries or on top of salads, use cooked rice for stir fries or cooked pasta in soups. There is almost always another use (or several) for a leftover food – use your imagination, or Google it!
Fruits or vegetables about to go bad? Use them up in smoothies, in baking, or process them and freeze for later use.
Chicken carcasses are great for making soup or broth for another day. And don’t forget to save your vegetable scraps – these make great broth as well. By scraps I mean the peels, stems and ends you trim off as you are preparing vegetables for a recipe or meal. Throw carrot, onion and potato peels, broccoli and cauliflower ends, kale stems, celery ends or tops, etc. into a Ziploc bag or container in the fridge to use later. If it will be a little while before you can deal with them, freeze them.
Making broth takes some time, but does not take much effort. Put the carcass or vegetable scraps in a pot and add just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for as little as one or two hours or all day. Slow cookers are great tools for this as well. The longer the broth simmers, the more flavour will transfer from the scraps to the liquid. Other flavours can be added using herbs or fresh vegetables, if desired. Once it is done simmering, use a fine strainer to keep just the liquid. Use homemade broth within a day or two, or put it in the freezer for longer storage. This makes a highly nutritious broth that costs next to nothing to make!
Try this quick and easy soup using leftover cooked chicken, leftover cooked pasta or even homemade chicken broth. Remember to keep your vegetable scraps and start reducing food waste today!
Chicken Pasta Soup
1 tbsp (15 mL) PC Splendido Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Cold Pressed
2 PC Blue Menu Air Chilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
7 cups (1750 mL) low sodium chicken stock
1 cup (250 mL) small whole wheat pasta such as rotini
1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook chicken just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.
- In same saucepan, cook onions, carrots and celery over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Stir in chicken and pepper; continue to cook until pasta is tender but firm, about 3 minutes longer.
Makes 4 servings
Per Serving: Calories 290 Cal, Fat 7g, Sodium 270mg, Carbohydrate 29g, Fibre 4g, Protein 27g
Recipe source: pc.ca
Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians or contact me by phone at (902) 921-0700 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terry Daley is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow.