Simplify Extra Food!

When my husband and I got married about 7 1/2 years ago, I remember having to push fairly hard on our catering vendor to be allowed to bring home the extra food from our event (that we paid quite handsomely for might I add…). We did this after learning that the food remainders weren’t donated, they had to be thrown out. We got to taste test the food beforehand and no way was I going to let that deliciousness find it’s forever home in some dumpster behind the building! Anyone who knows me (and/or my mom) won’t be surprised to hear that we did eventually get the vendor to relent and allow us to have the extra food and cake packaged up at the end of the night for us to bring home.

I couldn’t believe it would even be a question that had to be asked…why in the world wouldn’t they want the food used? Oh yeah…liability and all that jazz. Heaven forbid someone leave the roast beef out overnight before consuming then sue the vendor for food poisoning, right? Le sigh… that’s a rant for another day 😉 Seriously though, thinking of this and also reflecting on some questions asked by followers about how to handle extra food, I realized there are so many simple ways to avoid waste that I’d love to share. A lot of the ways that I do this personally involve meal planning and budget skills along with cooking, prepping, and freezing food tips I’ve picked up over the years. I thought I’d share some insight with all of you today so we can all do our part to simplify extra food! 

Question 1: How can I avoid wasting food but still make that delicious recipe I found?

Answer 1: Let someone else do the math so you can cut that recipe down to your size!

  • Check out this website I found where you can copy in (or type out) recipe ingredients and tell it if you want the recipe doubled, cut in half, cut down to a certain portion size, etc: https://www.mykitchencalculator.com/vhowtouserecipeconverter.html
    • They even have an app so you could copy ingredients from a Pinterest recipe (or… from this very blog!) and have the new measurements at your fingertips.
  • What if you cut down a recipe but now have too many leftover ingredients? Too large of a package of chicken or too many veggies? No problem, just prep and freeze them for later. I’d recommend cooking the chicken simply with some salt & pepper & olive oil then shredding and tossing in the freezer for a simple customizable wrap or salad topper. Extra veggies? Slice or chop and freeze with some broth or olive oil so you can saute right out of the freezer.

Answer #2: Meal plan to re-purpose leftovers into a different meal that week!

  • Speaking of meal planning, let’s circle back to a previous post and use our  meal planning brains here. Making a pot roast but know you won’t want leftovers 3 times that week after enjoying the initial meal? Yeah, join the club.
    • What if you planned ahead and bought a couple extra grocery items (hoagie buns, provolone cheese, green peppers, au jus)? Just sauté those sliced green peppers and warm up some of the leftover roast beef and onions to fill the sliced hoagie buns. Top with some provolone and broil in the oven for a few minutes and serve with some au jus. Use some of those delicious leftover roast juices and/or buy one of those handy dandy gravy packets. Then dip and slosh that cheesy French dip sandwich for a messy and oh-so-satisfying twist on roast leftovers!
    • Or, prep a vegetable beef soup and use the super flavorful extra roast juice to “beef up” the soup broth and/or use the extra potatoes, onions, carrots, roast meat and toss in the soup. Same flavor profile but totally different meal. Too similar to serve in the same week? No problem! You can just prep the soup broth and freeze that or go ahead and prep the whole soup then freeze for another time! 

Question #2: I want to freeze food to reduce waste don’t know how to go about that, help?!

Answer #1: Research before making the recipe to make sure it’s able to be frozen and, if so, any tweaks may need to do!

  • There are plenty of websites and cookbooks out there with tips on what foods freeze well as well as what you should not freeze. That doesn’t mean you can’t make that meal if it has an ingredient that doesn’t freeze, it just means you need to think ahead and leave that ingredient out when prepping it. Did I lose you? Soups are an easy example.
    • Chicken noodle soup freezes really well but noodles aren’t always the best to freeze so you could prepare a large pot of soup without the noodles, freeze portions of it and make a note to just warm and add noodles.
    • Or, I personally love the homemade version of Olive Garden’s sausage, potato, and kale soup but I know that dairy isn’t always the best idea to freeze. Same idea here: make the soup but don’t add the half and half at the end. Freeze the rest of it with a note to just add half and half after warming.

Answer #2: Use your budget skills to freeze your savings!

  • Do you love saving money but avoid those great bulk meat sales because you will never need that amount of food before it inevitably will go bad? Not to fear, freezer meals are here! On a week when you have extra budget money or need fewer items so you can squeeze in that bulk purchase, go ahead and get that ridiculously large package of ground beef/chicken breasts/pork chops/etc. Depending on your level of ambition, you can either freeze the extra protein right away without prepping so you have that meat at your disposal when you need it and/or when your budget isn’t feeling so generous. OR, you can do a little prep work before freezing to save yourself not only that money later on from not having to purchase it but also save yourself the time in prepping it! Simply make up a couple of your favorite marinades and split the meat up into different vacuum sealed baggies to use later.

Answer #3: Freeze in portion sizes that work best for you!

  • When you finish out that tub of butter or cottage cheese wash the container and save it to use as freezable Tupperware. That way, you have all sorts of sizes you can pick to freeze different portions of food in. Bonus: you are reducing waste by not using disposable containers and also saving yourself the confusion later of being short on your “good” Tupperware because it’s all in the freezer 😉 Yes mom, I am finally seeing the genius of your ways and promise not to make fun of your 5 different butter containers in the fridge/freezer next time I come home!
  • Think ahead when freezing items so it saves you time later on. Freeze that sauce in the saucepan itself then slide it into a freezable bag after it has solidified so you can just take that bag out of the freezer and put it directly back into the pan when you are ready to warm it up to use for a later meal!
  • Make a double batch of time consuming items like lasagna and split that second batch into a couple different freezer meals. Freeze 2/3 of that full pan as a family size freezer meal and split the remaining 1/3 into a couple individual freezer meal portions.

Let’s ‘wrap this up’, shall we?

Do I tend to get on my soap box and start preaching on things once I get on a roll? Yep. Will I be able to sleep at night without sharing these thoughts? Nope. So, there you have it folks, I needed to get this one off my chest in the hopes it will make a difference to a few people out there. I sincerely hope some of these tips can be used (or already are being used) by you and your family. Please comment with other tips you have on this topic and, as always, thanks for reading!!!

PS – stay tuned for more family recipe posts coming soon, trying to track down origins of some of our favorites so I can give credit where credit is due ❤ 

3 Comments

  1. deguenther@gpcom.net says:

    Tacie….that was great made a lot of sense..I about lost it when you said use butter containers, etc./

    Keep up the good work…

    Dad….

    P.S. if you need my secret recipe for hard boiling eggs let me know…or wait until I give my pitch to Dewalt for the cordless hard boiled egg makier…

    Like

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