Purging your kitchen of leftover holiday ingredients can feel both necessary and overwhelming, especially when you’re working with limited storage space like I am. (Curse you, tiny New York City apartment.) In other words, yes, I understand how tempting it can be to throw out a half-empty carton of heavy cream or a mound of frozen pie dough scraps — in fact, I’ve succumbed to that temptation more times than I would like to admit. This year, in an effort to save money and reduce food waste, I’m hoping to use up as many leftovers from my holiday cooking arsenal as possible. Because who doesn’t want to start the new year with a fresh, tidy kitchen? I’ve found that it’s all about locating the right recipes to take care of your specific leftover needs — and recruiting enough friends to come over and help polish off the fruits of your labor. Here are the eight ingredients that I happen to have in surplus this month — and maybe you do too — plus, a few ideas on how to get rid of them as deliciously as possible.
Tag: food waste
This Earth Day, food recovery is the hot topic on everyone’s docket — and for good reason. Recent research from the USDA revealed that over one-third (30 to 40 percent) of our food supply goes to waste each year, while studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that we could feed over 25 million Americans living in food-insecure homes if we were to reduce food waste by just 15 percent.
In light of these figures, there are now a number of programs dedicated to food recovery. Just last September, the USDA and the EPA teamed up to tackle the nation’s food waste epidemic and announced the first-ever national food waste reduction goal: To cut food waste in half by 2030. It may sound lofty, but the organizations have already seen great success with their joint U.S. Food Waste Challenge, which provides a platform “to assess and disseminate information about the best practices to reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste.” By the end of 2014, the challenge had over 4,000 participants, well surpassing its goal of 1,000 participants by 2020 — and also proving that you don’t need to be a political ecologist or a policymaker to affect positive change.
Participating in The Big Waste on Food Network was as eye opening for me as it was to watch it. I consider myself fairly well-informed in matters of buying, selling or, most simply, eating what I buy for my restaurants and home. In short, I didn’t think there would be much to learn doing this show. Or at least that there wouldn’t be much I hadn’t already seen. I was wrong. There were small amounts of precious, expensive things wasted, like chocolate, espresso and prosciutto. There were the stunning amounts of vegetables like corn, in bulk quantity, that I was surprised to learn would never “make the cut” and have a chance to even be bought.
Here are a few things we can all think about when shopping and cooking that can help reduce the amount of food waste:
1. Don’t pick through an entire pile of tomatoes to find the biggest, most perfect one. Settle for a few of the nice, small ones on top. Moving the pile around and shifting the fruit can bruise them and increase the likelihood than people will leave those other bruised fruits behind. Same goes for peaches.