Operation “no food shall go wasted”

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the incredibly thoughtful and supportive comments on my last post. I am still in awe at how amazing of a community I’ve been able to become a part of. Thank you, thank you! And for those of you who could really relate to the message in the post, I hope you stay strong and create your own set of coping mechanisms. We are our own worst enemies. It’s time to become our own best friends. :)

On another quick logistical point, in case you somehow missed it – I’m hosting a Siggi’s yogurt giveaway. Click here to enter!

Ok, now on to the fun stuff… operation “no food shall be wasted.” You see, I HATE wasting food. That means that I never care about expiration dates on packages (real food will “tell” you when it’s gone bad) where Adam tosses things in the trash without a second thought; I also sometimes eat foods of questionable freshness (yeah yeah, sometimes it’s right on that edge, my stomach and immune system never failed me 😉 ) but mostly, I make sure to plan my meals around open cans of beans, wilting greens, drying bread and try to reuse these ingredients in fun new ways (the freezer is also a big help)! In this spirit, I did a few quirky things this week and realized that it would be fun to share them with you. Ready?

STALE BREAD

After our bbq last Saturday, we had quite a bit of stale bread left. And when I say stale, I mean the stuff was rock hard. Definitely not something you’ll be excited (or even able) to make a sandwich with.

This girl doesn’t throw away food though. I decided to make some mushroom, roasted red pepper and goat cheese bread pudding with most of it (microwaved it first to be able to slice it – note: a good knife is key!!). Here is the Cooking Light recipe I followed – it was delicious!

Quick side note: bell peppers are on the dirty dozen list, which means that they have the highest pesticide residues and purchasing organic varieties reduces your exposure to them. I haven’t seen jarred organic roasted red peppers in stores (and I bet they would be crazy expensive anyways) so I roasted my own. It’s really easy! You can grill the peppers or just broil them – really make sure the skin is nice and burnt; don’t be afraid. It probably took about 15 minutes all together, turning the peppers every 3-5 minutes. Here is what they looked like after broiling:

After that, cover them completely for another 15 minutes. Basically during this time they’ll sweat…

… and you’ll be able to very easily separate the skin from the flesh with a fork or even just your hands (toss the skin). Easy! You now have roasted red peppers with no sodium, vinegar or other unwanted ingredients! :)

And you are ready to make this bread pudding recipe! 😉

This bread pudding was fantastic! The herbs were wonderfully flavorful (I used fresh basil, fresh thyme and dried parsley) and the combination of roasted veggies and goat cheese is indisputably a winner. Try it! Best stale bread use I know! :mrgreen: (Actually, baked french toast is another good one. Any recipe that basically rehydrates the bread in the process is great!).

After making the bread pudding, I had a few more brioche buns left. Into the food processor they went to make bread crumbs. :)

Chop, chop, chop – voila!

I froze them in a baggie for future use.

LARGE CANS, SMALL USES

Have you ever noticed how chipotles in adobo sauce always call for a whole can but have you use only 1 (mostly 2) peppers. I have the same pet peeve with tomato paste as well. Are you supposed to just throw away the rest and buy a whole new can next time? I don’t! This is where my body freezer comes in handy. All you’ll need is a freezer tray.

Basically put 1 or 2 chipotles in each compartment, with a little bit of sauce and freeze. I also put about 1.5T of tomato paste into another tray. After they’re nice and frozen, I transfer them into little baggies for easier storage (in the freezer) and when the recipe calls for one chipotle with a bit of sauce or some tomato paste, I microwave a “cube” for a few seconds and it’s ready to go.

I think they look kind of cute. :)

Freezer is of course also great for overripe bananas, and I even freeze random chopped veggies that I know I won’t have time to use up. They all go great in green smoothies. :)

PICKLE JAR

I’m hardcore. I have a hard time even tossing an EMPTY pickle jar, mostly because it still has a lot to give. 😉 Sometimes I throw more cucs in it, top it with water to the top, and put it back in the fridge (shake it every day to let the spices redistribute) – the cucs will become more pickled every day. This time I decided to make pickled zuchinni.

Most of the pickling job was already done, I just added a bit more garlic (1 large clove, pressed), a little dried dill and hot pepper flakes. Cut up your zucchini, add more water, refrigerate.

You’ll have pickled zucchini in just one day – it’s perfectly pickled days (maybe even weeks?) thereafter too. Oh how I love pickled veggies!

What about you? Do you find ways to prolong the life of some foods? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!! 😀

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34 comments to Operation “no food shall go wasted”

  • This post made me so excited – I can’t wait to try pickling. I absolutely hate wasting food as well – I have the same tomato paste pet peeve, I usually just freeze it in baggies but ice cube trays sound even better.

  • I swear we could be the same person! I have done all things, and many other similar things, along the way. I hate preservatives and other “non food” ingredients in my food. I love your pickle idea to use the leftover brine. I will definitely be trying that asap!

  • Savory bread pudding? I would have NEVER thought of that. Thanks for the idea! :-)

  • I hate wasting food as well and dang girl, you have some great ideas! That bread pudding looks fantastic, never would have I thought about making a savory version. However, I think I’d love it since I am a carb-o-holic. :)

  • I do the same thing with tomato paste and have made my share of sweet bread pudding with stale bread. . . but never savory. That looks great! I tend to eat things past the date, especially yogurt and cheese if they look ok. Questionable greens always make their way into the blender for smoothies.

  • I love this post – what great tips, especially the one about freezing the adobo sauce! The bread pudding looks amazing too!

  • These look great!! Talk about efficient! I love using food up. Of course with bananas I make banana bread or freeze for banana soft serve.

    When I have a few tid bits of things I sometimes make a soup.

  • I love your food tips! I never through out anything either. If there’s no mold I insist it’s fine to eat. I love your bread pudding! Hast to be one of my favorite foods.

  • Rika

    genius! I freeze my whey to use in smoothies when straining it to make Greek yogurt because I hate to know that I’m letting a nutritional powerhouse go to waste 😉

  • I adore this blog post. A lot of the recipes I experiment with are because I’m trying to get one more use out of an ingredient! One of my favorite recipes to date was a beet green hummus using some beet greens that were seriously on their way out!

  • Great post! Thank you for the useful tips, especially about the tomato paste.

  • otherwise known as “Operation, intelligent frugal foodie” <3

    xoxo

  • I LOVVVVVE this post! I am definitely bookmarking the break pudding recipe.
    I currently work at a bakery and try to get all our stale bread to a soup pantry but on weekends when I worry it’ll go bad by the time the pantry is open again I’ve had to think of ways to use it up and panzanella is a great one.
    And I’m the same way about expired things, open cans of beans- we are kindred spirits for sure!

  • Woww! Some fabby ideas. I’ll think twice next time before feeding the ducks at the park with the old bread! xx

  • Thanks for the shout-out to my post! :)

    And can I just say that you’re an absolute genius? I read this post and immediately yelled to my husband NOT to throw away our next empty pickle jar. I just love all of these ideas!

  • I hate wasting food too!

    I keep a freezer bag full of odds and ends of veggies: celery cores, carrot peelings, parsley stems, etc. and once a month, I make vegetable stock with it. It’s worlds better than store-bought, and it’s free!

  • My motto as well! Thanks for the ideas – always looking for creative ways of using up food!

  • You are so GOOD at this. I have a half a loaf of stale bread and I chuck it….

  • KellyB

    This is awesome, I would never of thought of reusing the pickle jar or make the bread crumbs and freeze and I’ve been there all to often with the tomato paste. One question – do you have to prepare the ice tray with spary or use it as is.

  • Elina

    KellyB – no spray. They pop out once frozen. :)

  • I really need to remember to pick up an ice tray! A can of tomato paste is something I can never seem to get through. I hear it’s also great for leftover wine to use for cooking.

    And, what a wonderful tip for the leftover pickle juice! We both love pickles and really any pickled vegetable, and for some reason I never make them on my own (actually, I *just* made my first batch of pickled red onions this weekend, but I haven’t tried them yet!) I will definitely have to try this the next time we buy pickles!

  • You’re adorable. I love all the little tips. I do the same exact thing. My freezer is full of bits of this and that which I hate to throw away. I love that you were able to turn the stale bread into something fantastic and even more jealous that you found organic bell peppers. I can never seem to find them, even at whole foods.

    The biggest thing that goes wasted for me is fresh fruit. I’ve been buying it at the farmers’ market and it is usually so ripe that if I don’t eat it right away it goes bad. Lately I’ve been roasting it and then pureeing it and sticking it in the freezer to flavor smoothies or yogurt.

  • I’m new to not letting things go to waste. Since I started my blog I have so many left-over ingredients that would go bad if I didn’t find a way to “re-purpose” them. There are a lot of clever uses for nearly everything. I love pickling with the juice from store-bought pickles and freezing things like veggies and herbs (in water) in ice cube trays. I can just pop them out of the tray and into a sauce.

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. So nice to see you at my blog. I got the lobsters at Shaws on Hyde Park Ave. The sale was a three day special that ran from Friday to Sunday. At that pirce, they were selling like crazy. =)

  • I am so impressed! How inspiring :)

  • The savory bread pudding is inspired – we always have leftover bread, and I usually just go the crouton or bread crumb route. I love new ideas!
    I’m pretty dedicated to not wasting food; I grew up in a house where going to bed hungry wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, and today I feel pangs if I see food being wasted – honestly, that’s why I dumpster a lot of what I cook; I think America needs to revisit what we get rid of and why. Thanks for these tips!

  • Allie

    wow, great ideas. it kills me to throw stuff away, but living alone i do sometimes…these are some great tips!!

  • Super useful post!! Thank you! I am so excited to use the ice cube trick with chipotles and tomato paste. I hate wasting food!

  • GREAT pickling idea! I have so much zucchini to use and i’m starting to get tired of the same old zuke chips! hehe.

  • hey thanks for the tip for the bell peppers. i’ve developed a bit of a thing for them recently, but have had this niggling feeling about buying ready-packaged ones. i’d never thought of putting them to sweat – great idea, thanks 😀

    (the only downside is i’m wanting to eat even more now i’ve discovered the foodblog universe!)

  • Chase Steffens

    Great post! I love the ice cube tray idea. I’ve been freezing my chipotles in adobo for a while, but never thought to do this. I always had to unwrap the cube, shave some off and wrap it back up. Cool idea to make into individual servings.

    I also dig the pickling idea. I just started pickling and I wondered to myself after throwing out the leftover liquid if I could have used it. Why not? Duh…

    Great work, I love your blog! Just starting one of my own on blogger called “From Willowcrest with Grub”

  • Chase Steffens

    Cool logo. Are you a graphic designer?

  • Elina

    Chase Steffens – my sister designed the header if that’s what you’re asking. :)

  • this looks awesome :) stale bread is also good for savory pumpkin bread pudding! haha. i had no idea about the red peppers… must’ve overlooked it, but it’s totally something i eat all the time!

  • Liz

    Just getting back into town after a few weeks away, and I’m trying to get caught up on all my unread blogs. I’m so happy to see these tips – I already do the pickles frozen chipotle (though I blend mine in the food processor before pouring the mixture into the ice trays), and I usually freeze bread for later use. I’ve just started reusing pickle juice, and I’ve been really happy with the results. I almost like the homemade batch and how fresh it tastes more than the original jarred pickles!

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