One of my resolutions for 2020 has been to reduce waste. Most of my waste comes from food and food waste is a large contributor to global warming. According to Project Drawdown, reducing food waste would have the third biggest impact on reducing global warming. According to the USDA, it's estimated that 30-40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted.
I can't tell you how many times I've let blueberries get moldy in the produce drawer, forgotten to eat my leftover chicken, or accidentally bought two more cans of black beans even though I already had four in the pantry. Here are a few ideas to help you use up extra ingredients you have before they go bad.
These three meals are very simple ways to use up ingredients so long as you have the base of each available. For soups you need broth, for salads you need greens, and for scramblers you need eggs. From there, just get creative.
The base of most soups is broth. Easy ways to keep that on hand would be to make your own using kitchen scraps and freeze it (another good way to reduce food waste), keep shelf stable cans or cartons in your pantry, or keep bouillon cubes in your spice cupboard if you're interested in an option that uses up less space.
Once you have your broth, use any leftover vegetables or meats, extra cans of beans or tomatoes, and/or grains such as quinoa, noodles, or barley that you want to get rid of. Here is a basic soup recipe. If you don't have any of the ingredients listed, then just leave them out.
1. In a large sauce pan, heat cooking oil over medium heat. Add diced onions, celery, and carrots. Allow them to soften, then add garlic until aromatic.
2. Add in broth and all other vegetables, grains, etc. except beans, cooked meats, and leafy greens. Add in spices such as bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, and oregano.
3. Bring to a boil, then simmer until grains and starchy vegetables are softened.
4. Mix in beans, cooked meats, and/or leafy greens and cook for five more minutes.
If you're feeling lazy or short on time, you could also just throw everything into the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours. Or put everything in an Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for an hour.
Any greens can work for this one. Lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, or even brussels sprouts. Slice up your greens, then dice any vegetables, fruits, and meats that you are trying to use up and toss it with the lettuce and dressing of choice. Top with cheese, seeds, croutons, or other fix-ins.
Dice and cook any vegetables you plan to use for scramblers. If you're adding leafy greens such as spinach or kale, wait for the other vegetables to finish cooking and add the greens in the last few minutes until they are wilted. Once the vegetables are cooked, scramble in the eggs. You can top your eggs with cheese, avocado, or salsa. Or eat it on toast or wrapped in a tortilla.
All three of these options are extremely versatile and can be made up with any combination of foods. This is why they are perfect for using up extra ingredients! Don't be afraid to add chicken to a scrambler or ground beef to a salad just because it isn't conventional. It's fun to be adventurous in the kitchen!
If you have ingredients in your pantry or fridge that you want to use up and you don't think they make sense in one these three formats, reach out to me in the comments or @PlannedPlate on Instagram and I'll help you come up with a recipe!
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