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Topic: It kills me to throw food out . . .

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Subject: It kills me to throw food out . . .
Date Posted: 12/7/2009 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Maybe it's memories of long ago 'meals' in the Thirties, (such as a few of last night's boiled potatoes fried in a little lard, for lunch) but I am assailed by twinges of guilt whenever I throw food out.  I don't mean stuff like banana peels, orange rinds,  bones, etc.   I mean things that could still be eaten, if a person isn't just too persnickety. 

For years, I've honed the art of 'leftovers', and really, it's a creative part of cooking, and cooking is the only truly creative part of homemaking, IMO.   I was told long ago that you don't offer the food in the exact same form your diners first saw it, but transformed, somehow, or with something new and different added.   It can become a kind of 'game', and when I do it, I  get a tiny little satisfaction from  not having had to put "good food" down the garbage grinder in the sink.  

I bet other cooks have comments on the topic of "leftovers".  I think it's interesting that they are called "sobras" in Spanish.  And  one dish we have every so often here at my house is "pain perdu", invented by the French, to whom it means "lost bread."   Of course I'm talking about "French toast."

Date Posted: 12/8/2009 3:13 AM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2009
Posts: 53
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If you cook once, and have to make a mess, make enough for several meals; there is a group it's called cook once, eat for a month; I don't do that but I DO cook quite a bit more than I need; and then freeze it; yahoo groups has a great group called frozen assets & they are experts & can answer all kinds of questions; if you are not currently making stews and soups, they are so incredibly easy to make: taste so much better than bought & far healthier for you as they are currently putting so much sodium (chemically treated of course) into all processed foods;

You can "freeze" anything; including mashed potatoes and reheat them up quickly for "almost" instant food; why pay for TV dinners when you can make your own? your left over veggies and go into zip locks, the same one if you so desire to add to stews and soups; when I was getting onions recently 6 lbs for 99 cents & said wow what a great buy! think I will make french onion soup for dinner with home made bread several folks there asked if they could come to dinner!

The French always have a pot of soup on: so anyone coming in hungry can easily & readily eat some soup; breads are incredibly easy to make, and while I use a bread machine to mix & knead & do not feel quilty in the least I bake mine in glass loaf pans; it tastes far better that way! You can make artisian bread for 5 min a day minus the raising time; www.motherearthnews.com I believe has the recipe; Love the bread machine which I got brand new for $9.99 at Goodwill cuz it came with 2 recipe books telling me how I could make bread without having to use bread mixes; along with all kinds of other goodies; you can also make your own butter, butter spreads, etc;

I make soups, stews, etc: and give some to my neighbors frequently using a stock pot; then when cooled, usually the next day I put into zip lock bags (4 boxs of 52 freezer bags for $8.99 at Costco) and fill them; they lay flat and so I stack them up; when I make waffles, I usually make more than I need: and they also can go into freezer for "quick" morning or afternoon or dinner; I don't see where folks would be throwing away a lot of food really; extra mashed potatoes toss onions in & grate cheese next time you make them; I don't use a microwave to often, but seems to me you could easily make that just as a snack; far easier than making the double baked individually; extra baked potatoes I love to grate and use for hash browns, or cut & fry with onions & bell peppers;  bananas overripe can be put into the freezer the skins will turn black, but make into banana bread; it doesn't effect the taste at all; in fact, many times when on "clearance" I get and do just that!

Date Posted: 12/9/2009 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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In my home the key to no waste leftovers is to re-serve them while still fresh (no more than a couple of days old). Also I try to only make extra quantities of dishes that the whole family loves. As a mom with full time employment, I plan "leftover night". For us, this is Wednesday or Thursday night and it consists of the leftovers from the previous 2-3 days. This works great and gives me a no cook night - mostly just re-heating. DH loves leftovers and has been instrumental in making leftover night popular with the kids. I know poeple who won't touch leftovers.

Bonnie, I agree that leftovers can be a creative opportunity! I have at least a dozen recipes for leftover roast chicken or beef.

Also, like Ashley, I will save small amounts of leftover veggies to use in soups, etc. But I do disagree that you can freeze anything. I have never cared for frozen potatoes. Also, milk-based products often separate after freezing and the consistency/taste sometimes seems off to me. Maybe I'm just picky :-)

Date Posted: 1/7/2010 1:05 AM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2007
Posts: 1,157
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My friend Fred used to cook the best chinese food you've ever eaten. (Main recipe source was a book called "The Good Food of Szechwan", I think the author's name is Delft.) Anyway, he'd make it in large quantities, and if any survived (it was so good we'd just gobble it) he'd make that into fried rice the next day. Apparently fried rice is just what you do with leftover chinese food. It was always the best fried rice ever. 

Date Posted: 1/7/2010 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 78
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I have a reputation in my family of taking anyones leftovers. It amazes me that some people won't  bother with small amounts of leftovers.Just because there is only a little is no reason to throw it out. Sometimes at a restaurant family won't eat the sauteed vegetables that are usually served. I take them and use them for soup. Small amounts of meat can be made into a sandwich. The tiny bits left from a home cooked ham or turkey can be ground up with mayo and celery and pickles for sandwich spread. My extended family may laugh at me, but I have saved a lot of money on lunches by eating leftovers. If I have some taco meat or sloppy joe meat left I freeze it and use it in chili or spaghetti sauce.

The thing I have trouble with is bread. I really don't like the taste of it after it is frozen so I don't do that.  I seem to usually have several bags with just two or three slices in the refrigerator. I guess I need to start making french toast more often.

Regarding chinese food, I know lots of people make a stir fry when they have lots of odds and ends of fresh vegetables to use up. I have done it too. That is also a great way to use a small amount of meat.

Subject: leftover bread
Date Posted: 1/8/2010 8:11 AM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2007
Posts: 12
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Ronda,

I make all my own bread and usually have leftovers. some of the things I do 

I make bread cumbs  and freeze them, first dry out the bread and then grate it on a box grater for panko type crumbs, or grind in a blender for fine dry crumbs.  You can add seasonings or leave them plain and season later .  I also make bread cubes to freeze for stuffings and croutons. Don't toast them, just cut into cubes, freeze on a tray untill firm and put in a freezer bag when ready to use thaw, season and toast in the oven. I just made a batch of french toast and froze half. I wasn't sure if it would work but they came out great.  After they were cooked and cool  I laid them out on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer just until firm and then put in a freezer bag with parchment ( (you could use wax paper too) in between for easy separation.   Then put in the toaster to thaw and heat .

Subject: Make your own frozen dinners
Date Posted: 1/13/2010 7:14 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2009
Posts: 202
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When I can get the commercial frozen dinners that come in plastic trays (Banquet, etc.) for really cheap (usually about $.69) I buy a bunch of them. The food is palatable, but the left over dish tray is what I want.

When I cook I make a lot (lasagna - two pans full, big crock pot, etc.). When the two of us have eaten what we want, we let the rest cool in the frig. Then I take portions to fill the main section of the plastic dish and fill the others with frozen vegetables, some cookable dessert, spiced fruit that is good served hot, etc. I wrap it in plastic wrap, label what it is (don't forget this step or you'll have "mystery dinners"!) and put it into the freezer.

Over time we have a variety of dinners ready to pop into the microwave on high for about 4 minutes (double time at 30% power for bread foods) for a great fast preplanned meal just the way we like it with the servings set for quantity and calorie considerations. The plastic dishes are dishwasher safe in the top rackand I've used some as many as 20+ times over again.

Enjoy,

Ken

Date Posted: 2/2/2010 3:03 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
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I keep a leftover soup bag in the freezer. Any tiny amount of leftover, not enough to be 'worth' saving, goes in the bag. mostly veggies, but just about anything - rice, tiny bits of meat, anything, really. When the bag is full, sautee up a little meat, add the bag and some tomato juice, and some cabbbage if you like (I do), heat and serve. It's differant everytime, but it's good. you can throw in anything you want - a can of mixed veggies or beans, whatever, if you need to bulk it up.

Subject: "Chagot" Soup
Date Posted: 7/1/2010 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/18/2010
Posts: 9
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My mother used to make "Chagot" soup. First a broth with onions and whatever leftover meat, then add what "chagot" in the refrigerator! Always different but always good.

Date Posted: 7/19/2010 5:53 AM ET
Member Since: 7/11/2010
Posts: 9
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I am laughed at by some because I will show up to the family holiday dinners with plenty of empty ziplock baggies and gladware containers. I have no problem taking home the left over veggies or side dished. Meat leftovers are usually not given away because that is good "sandwich fodder." I often will come home with a bird carcass to make soup or stock as well. Left over cheeses make a great cheese fondue or throw them in the FP and make a cheesey spread for crackers or to top of burgers. Leftover crudite becomes soup, quiche, stir-fry, or roast with some potatoes for a nice side dish. The veggies will also find their way into lasagna or tomato sauce... I could go on forever!

Date Posted: 9/18/2010 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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We were visiting with friends and family and the group ordered Chinese take-out. There were two large containers of white rice leftover . . . not even opened. No one wanted them so I said I would take them, not sure what I would do with them but like Bonnie's thread title, it kills me to throw out good food.

So, I got home and decided to makeChicken and rice thefollowing day- that used up some of the rice. The day after that I made"refrigerator soup" (that's what my oldest DD calls soup when I use up every leftover I can along with whatever I have saved in the freezer) in the crockpot. Then, I gave up and froze the rest of the rice for a future soup. DH congratulated me on (1) the great meals and (2) my smarty-pants frugalness :-)

The pre-cooked rice was a real time saver also.

Subject: Rice Stir fry
Date Posted: 9/23/2010 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2007
Posts: 1
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Leftover rice - peas carrots onions chicken ham pieces

Put oil in pan and onions stir = throw in everything else and have a complete meal. I add soy sauce after it start cooking up for flavor and if you want scramble a few eggs and chop and thow on top.

Easy cheap meal if you have stuff around. My kids ate this a lot.

I collect leftovers where ever I go. I carry tupperware in the car and use this to cook in. Fast dinners.

Subject: I went on a mad throwing out binge
Date Posted: 9/24/2010 10:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/24/2010
Posts: 288
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My aunt was an alcoholic and I visited her in the hospital shortly before she died a few weeks ago. While there, my mom and I went through her cupboards, fridge and freezer. I found sausages with a sell by date of 1999. We obviously did a complete overhaul of her fridge and freezer.

Talk about it killing you to throw stuff out. I had to throw away a 7 pound beef tenderloin that was five years old. I seriously cannot imagine having a piece of meat of that nature and never using it. In all, the garbage collectors told us that the garbage bags we had totalled 137 pounds. I'm still shocked at how much expensive meat and seafood we had to toss.

Date Posted: 9/24/2010 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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tracevt What a sad duty yours was.......my sympathies on the death os your aunt.  But I cannot help thinking about the tragedy that alcoholism brings into so many families' lives because of the way the chronic alcoholic tends to malnutrition, losing all interest in food.  For most people, food is one of the mundane pleasures that continues throughout life . . . .    



Last Edited on: 12/30/11 4:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Subject: Thanks
Date Posted: 10/1/2010 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/24/2010
Posts: 288
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I know I'm still grieving and have definitely hit that anger stage. She was told two years ago to stop drinking and told us she had. She's three states away, so unless she was visiting we were relying on her or her husband to really tell the truth. He still denies that a 1.5 liter bottle of Rye a day or a box of wine was alcoholism which bothers me more. I can't imagine drinking that much. And knowing just how much food I had to throw out bothers me even more. Makes my fridge cleanouts where I feel guilty throwing out an item that's just a week past date seem trivial!

But alcoholism is definitely an illness that I never want to face again. She went into the hepatic encephalopathy (ammonia levels skyrocket because the liveris not filtering them during/after digestion and damage the brain. The things she hallucinated/believed after that kicked in will haunt me for years to come. Enough that I've decided it's no longer worth drinking at all, especially after learning that all it takes to wreck your liver (as a woman) is 13 ounces of beer per day.