Helpful tips on wasting less
1. Fresh herbs
What to do with those leftover fresh herbs?
Oregano: fresh oregano grows very rapidly and I don't typically cook with a lot of fresh oregano, so I pick it, wash it, tie it all together with a rubber band and hang it upside down for a few weeks. This will dry it out to the point that you can crumble it and put it into a spice jar. This is the freshest dried oregano you can get! The above picture is before and after it is dried out.
Basil: Basil freezes beautifully. Wash it all at once, let it air dry and then freeze the leaves! When you pull it out of the freezer, chop it while still frozen, other wise it become very soggy and difficult to chop.
Cilantro: I personally don't think the flavor of cilantro is quite as good after it has been frozen, but you can definitely still taste it, so it is better to do this than let it go bad.
chop it up and freeze it to use in soup.
Mint: I also freeze my fresh mint because it grows like a weed. This also keeps it producing more all season rather than flowering.
Thyme and Rosemary- I've frozen these before, but I don't cook with them very much, so I can't remember if any flavor was lost.
2. Lemons and limes.
If you have lemons or limes sitting in the fridge and you are afraid they may go bad, squeeze them into an ice cube tray and freeze them to use later. (write on the bag how much each cube is worth- ie. 1 cube = 1/2 lime)
3. Chicken carcass
make a big pot of homemade chicken broth by filling a pot with water (about 5 qts)
add carrots, celery, onion (including the skin which contains extra vitamins), garlic, salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves, and a small handful of spinach or kale for added nutrients. Simmer this for about 2 hours, then strain it with a mesh strainer. You can then freeze it in 2-4 cup portions for later use, or use it to make Thai chicken soup!
4. Leftover spinach leaves or Kale
Pull them out and take out any bad leaves and chop them up very fine (in a food processor if you have one) and add this to ANYTHING! I put chopped spinach in pasta, soups, pizza, quesadillas, mac n cheese, pretty much anything, and no one even knows they're in there!
I also just froze a bunch of kale that was about to go bad and it kept its shape beautifully!
When I found out that I could throw my fruit and veggie scraps or that leftover celery I forgot about into a compost bin, I was so excited. I hate wasting food, so to know that it is going to a good cause (nutrient rich soil to feed my tomato plants the next summer), makes me feel like I am wasting less.
I was really scared to start composting for the longest time for fear of animals getting into my "garbage" or just for fear that I would have a big pile of "trash" out in the yard that never did anything except smell bad.
My husband bought me a compost bin with the little door at the bottom and I finally started composting. It had a lid on it so I didn't have to worry about animals or the smell as much, and I could lift up the door on the bottom to get the soil out when needed. Unfortunately when we moved, the bin broke so now I just have the circular plastic bins you get for free at the dump.
I am really bad at turning the compost. It basically sits there all year, as I keep piling on more leaves, fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, etc.
In the spring, low and behold, there is the darkest, richest soil underneath what looks like a big pile of leaves mixed with garbage.
Every time I find that soil underneath, I get so excited that composting really works! It's just so neat how God created all these things to decompose together to make the best soil additive you can have.
I really can't imagine NOT composting now that I am so used to it.
7. Make a list of what you have in your fridge
and use it up within a week of when it first goes in the fridge.
I know some people like to use their food within 3 days or so, but I have a 1 week rule, and I'm usually pretty good about using up any leftovers we have within that time period, and we have never gotten sick off food that has been there for 1 week.
leftover rice is an easy thing to forget about. To freshen up the rice, add about 1 tbs water to the container, cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Open a can of beans to add some to the rice along with salsa and cheese and you've got yourself a lunch!
8. Freeze leftovers
I almost always double and triple recipes, so sometimes it ends up being too much for our family. If about 4 days go by and it feels like we've had leftovers 1 or 2 times that week of that particular dish, I will freeze what's left so as not to waste it. One time I froze the tiniest amount of leftover chicken tortilla soup for this reason, and months later I thawed it out and it was a perfect little lunch for myself.
9. Make a soup
so many leftovers can be thrown into a soup, so don't be nervous that the recipe didn't call for it. The types of things we usually waste are herbs, onions, celery, carrots, rice, noodles or anything that we forget is in the fridge. Just make a soup at least once a week and throw in all those stragglers you find in the fridge.