Monday, July 6, 2015

Waste Not, Want Not: Creative Uses for Random Food

How often do you clean out your fridge or freezer, only to find expired foods?  This happens to me when I am trying to locate "that smell".  I absolutely hate wasting food.  It feels like throwing money in the garbage.  I try everything in my power to use what we have.  Here are some things I do to use everything before it goes bad.

Smoothies/Popsicles.  Every Saturday morning, I pull out fruits and veggies that are about to go bad.  My kids (and me, too!) don't like to eat brown bananas.  Don't throw away the bruised peach or wilted spinach.  I throw it all in a blender, pour it into pop molds, and pour the remainder into cups.  The kids drink the smoothies and later will eat healthy popsicles (no sugar added!).

Sample smoothie/popsicle ideas:

Banana Pineapple Cherry
Frozen pineapple chunks
Cherries (pitted)
Frozen spinach
Chia Seeds
Greek Yogurt
Coconut Milk

Orange Creamscile
Frozen pineapple chunks
Frozen Spinach
Half and Half
Chia Seeds

Peanut Butter Banana
Peanut Butter
Coconut Milk
Frozen Spinach

I like the frozen spinach (obviously) because my kids will eat it!  The spinach has no flavor.  Mine don't mind seeing me put spinach in our smoothies.  If you think your kids will refuse to eat them if they know there is spinach in them, then wait until after they go to bed to make them.  Also, you CAN add sugar to these to sweeten them, just to get your kids hooked on them.  Once they know that they like them, you can back off the sugar bit by bit until you don't add any sugar, and they shouldn't notice a difference!

Place all of the solid ingredients in the blender.  Add a little bit of your liquid and start blending.  You can always add more liquid to get the consistency you desire.  But you can't take it out if it's too soupy, so start off with the "less is more" mentality.  You'll soon get the hang of how much liquid is needed.

Additional options:  avocado, pear, apple, fresh pineapple, lemon, lime, peach, watermelon, cooked carrots, apricot, etc. If you already have too much for today's smoothies/pops, then freeze your fruits and veggies for next week.  This will prevent them from rotting.

Egg Casserole.  Sunday evening I bake an egg casserole, divide it up into separate containers, and then I can grab a container in the mornings for breakfast at work.  My son can quickly heat it up and eat it before school.  I can serve it for dinner when I need something fast and healthy.  Here is the most recent one I made with leftovers from the fridge:

8 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheese
^these measurements will create a good egg base for your bake.  Everything else can be added based on what you have, up to 3-4 cups total.
Frozen spinach
Cubed potatoes (already cooked, refrigerated)
Ground beef (already cooked, this ended up tasting like breakfast sausage because of the spices I used)
Diced chicken (already cooked)
Bacon (already cooked)
Lemon Pepper
Seasoned Salt

Additional options:  garlic, onion, peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, capers, oregano, basil, avocado, tomatoes, lunch meat, green chilies, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.

Whisk the first three ingredients in a large bowl, add spices, and then stir in remaining ingredients.   Once everything is evenly coated, pour into a greased 9x13 glass pan.  Bake at 350* for about 40 minutes.  Stick a fork in the middle.  If it is firm, then it is done.  If it is gooey, then the eggs aren't done yet.  Bake for additional 5 minute increments until it is firm in the middle.

The possibilities here are endless with both of these ideas!  You will end up with a lot of flavor, and no wasted food!

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