7 healthy ways to use food scraps
Make the most of leftovers with these seven healthy ways to reuse food scraps. You'll be helping both the environment and your bank accountBy Signe Langford
Canadians spend a lot on food—Statistics Canada found that $92 billion was spent on food and beverages in stores and another $50 billion in restaurants and bars. You’d think we’d want to make the most of the food we spend our hard-earned money on, wouldn’t you?
Yet, according to a 2011 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, consumers in rich countries—such as Canada—waste almost 222 million tonnes every year. And the George Morris Centre in Guelph, Ontario, reveals that 40 percent of Canadian food is tossed from homes, shops or restaurants. That leftover meatloaf is starting to look pretty good right about now, isn’t it?
Here are seven ways you can help the environment by reusing what was once considered waste.
1. Use leftovers to make a soup
Every money savvy restaurant chef knows this one: use what didn’t sell yesterday to make today’s soup du jour. Roasted chicken on Sunday night? Chicken soup on Monday. And where soup is concerned, let your imagination run wild. If it tasted good in one presentation (a roast) it will taste good in another (soup)—just add broth!
And it’s not just roasts, bones and chicken carcasses that make great soups. Got some leftover lasagne that's not quite enough to feed everyone? Make lasagne soup. And when you slide the crisper drawer open only to discover, with shame, that once again the celery is droopy, the carrots are rubbery and the onions are sprouting, it’s time to make vegetable stock. You can even save veggies in the freezer to use in stock at a later date.
Tip: don’t keep onions, potatoes or garlic in the fridge. Cold and dark spaces encourage sprouting since veggies think they have gone through a winter!
2. Crush eggshells and feed your garden
Instead of throwing out eggshells, grind them in a blender or food processor and add to potting soil or sprinkle directly onto the garden. The eggshells offer a healthy dose of calcium for your garden.
If you have pet birds or backyard hens, roast eggshells in the oven or toaster-oven to kill any bacteria, then grind. It’s a great supplement for them.
3. Save bread scraps for future baked goods
Save stale bread, butt ends and crusts in an airtight freezer container until you have enough for a delicious bread pudding, stuffing, crumbs or croutons. Often they can be saved with a little time spent on a grill or in the toaster oven, but if not, just like plain bread, day-old breads and baked goodies are just as versatile. Muffins, cinnamon bread or buns make delicious bread puddings, too.
4. Add flavour to your water
When the fridge hands you soft lemons, make lemon juice…or orange, lime or grapefruit juice. Juice the fruit while there’s still time and freeze for a recipe or add to your daily eight glasses of water for a refreshing flavour.
5. Offer pumpkin to your pet
Ended up with a silly amount of pure canned pumpkin meat leftover from a recipe? Give it to Fluffy or Fido—it’s great for their digestion. No pets? Transfer the leftover pumpkin to a freezer container and save it up until you have enough to make soup, quick bread, muffins, cakes or cookies. You can often replace some of the egg or butter in a recipe with pumpkin puree, which will save you fat and money! Pure pumpkin is also a natural addition to Thai curries.
6. Clean your drain with baking soda
When it’s time to replace that smelly refrigerator box of baking soda, don’t toss it in the trash, pour it down the drain followed by a kettle of hot water. It’ll help keep the pipes clean.
When all else fails and the food is truly past it's date, compost it either through your municipal program, in your backyard composter or compost pile or inside, with a vermicomposter. A vermicomposter is a fully self-contained, counter top eco-system where worms eat your kitchen scraps and give you nutrient-rich soil for your plants. Better still, adopt a few backyard hens: they’ll eat your kitchen scraps and give you amazing eggs in return.
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