Wasting food is a sin

or at least it was in my depression-baby father’s kitchen.*

Fortunately there are delicious ways to repurpose food after they’ve gone stale.

Tonight we had one of my favorites… Bruschetta.

Slice stale bread
Liberally drizzle olive oil on top
Cover with garlic (crushed, diced, sliced… you make the call)
Bake in oven until garlic is starting to brown. (I like 375 for 10 min, but you can do it for longer at lower temperatures or shorter at higher. Heck, you can even broil.)
Take out of oven.
Spoon diced tomatoes seasoned with basil, oregano, garlic, salt, or really whatever your heart desires over top.
Eat!

#2 wishes we could get away from food-as-morality, which I think contributes to lots of unhealthy attitudes in our society (fat-phobia, overeating, anorexia, bulimia, emphasis on weight instead of health, overemphasis on willpower and self-control over biology, etc.).  It makes eating into an anxious situation fraught with meaning and duty and power, when really it’s just all about fun!  Also, telling your kids, “Eat that!  Think of all the starving children in China!” will only make them hate you and whatever you are trying to feed them.  I always thought that the starving children in China were QUITE welcome to my lima beans, or whatever.  Let’s get away from a sickening combo of food-and-guilt, please, and just focus on having fun with food.

</rant>

#1 notes that her household never had a “Eat that!  Think of all the starving children in China!”  Instead we were encouraged to take small portions and go back for seconds.  Taking a large portion and not finishing resulted in eating leftovers from that meal the next meal.  In any case, the point about not wasting food in this post is not to throw out tons of wasted food from the fridge each week, instead to menu plan more carefully, and to use creativity when faced with things like stale bread.  (Because, of course, you only buy/make high quality bread.)  But we still should be careful about language.  Or else #2 gets grumpy.  And that rumbling isn’t her stomach, no matter how delicious bruschetta is.

What are your favorite ways of repurposing leftovers?  #2 likes to make “whatever’s in the house, over pasta.”  (#1 also likes the same as an omelette or stir-fry.)

*Caution: Don’t take eating old foods too far. Food poisoning is not frugal. “If in doubt, throw it out.”

postscript:  DH tried and failed at making mozarella this weekend.  Sadly, that resulted in a gallon of (organic, whole milk) buttermilk.  So we had pancakes for breakfast and buttermilk rolls at lunch.  Then DH made ricotta and a cheesecake.  Mozarella attempt #2 ended up with cream cheese.  Also, did you know that when maple syrup gets a skin, that’s mold, and you can take it off, reboil the syrup, and it should be ok to consume.  According to chow-hound anyway.

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24 Responses to “Wasting food is a sin”

  1. Foscavista Says:

    I like to take leftover meat and cooked vegetables, grind them up and make pot stickers out of them for appetizers.

  2. julier Says:

    Fried rice and jambalaya are both popular things to do with leftovers at our place. We also like to package up our leftovers and take them for lunches. Keeps us from spending more money on take-out lunches and reduces food waste. We could do better though.

    I really like the “take a little bit then take seconds if you’re still hungry rule.” We also sometimes couple it with a “you have to eat all your chicken/veggies before you can take more noodles” rule. I want my kids to know when their stomachs are full and to stop eating when they reach that point. My in-laws are all obese so I am really trying to teach my kids to make healthy choices about food.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH makes really good fried rice. We haven’t had that in a while! I think we’re too lazy to make rice… Mmmm rice…

      We also have leftovers for lunch a lot. Nom.

  3. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    The best thing to do with leftover risotto is make risotto cakes. You basically take the leftover risotto, form it into a pancake shape, and pan fry it in olive oil.

    Last night we made pizza:

    The shitte was f*cken delicious!

  4. Sandy H Says:

    When we have stale bread we make french toast!! Yummy, or we go find some birds to feed.

    I take leftovers for lunch- hubby simply won’t stating he never knows where he’ll be and can’t warm things up.

  5. Cloud Says:

    Another excellent use for buttermilk is soda bread. Easy and yummy bread. But it goes stale quickly. Which I guess gets you right back to ricotta.

    I usually cook extra with most meals and freeze the leftovers, so that once or twice a week, we can eat leftovers for dinner.

    I’m all in with #2 on ditching the food as morality thing, though. I am a fairly picky eater (I used to be worse- I’ve mellowed with age), and am now raising one extremely picky eating daughter. I’m always amazed at the fact that some people see our dislike of certain green vegetables as a moral failing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Partner makes excellent soda bread. :) Nom!

      Dislike of foods is not a moral failing. But there’s something to be said for not letting good food go to waste.

      Now, eggnog, that is immoral.

  6. Squirrelers Says:

    We’re not nearly good enough with repurposing food over here. It’s an area with much potential here. As much as I talk about money saving ideas, this is one are in which I could probably do a little bit better.

    My approach is just to buy what I know (or think I know) what we can eat.

  7. Debbie M Says:

    Leftover meat and veggies go into macaroni and cheese or other pasta dishes. Leftover fruit and non-cheese dairy products go into “smoothies” (my smoothies always have ice cream in them, so I should probably call them milkshakes). Failed attempts at tomato soup get turned into spaghetti sauce (with the addition of tomato paste and more spices). Leftover hummus when I ran out of pita gets eaten from a spoon (or from tortillas or toast). When undercooked bacon comes on a sandwich at a restaurant, I take it off the sandwich and bring it home to cook more and use in “fried rice.” (I don’t really fry the rice; I just mix it with soy sauce/scrambled egg mixture and salty meat.)

    Other people save leftovers in the freezer for soup.

  8. First Gen American Says:

    With 2 growing boys, we rarely have leftovers anymore.

    It’s strange, but despite my mom’s own starvation, she never guilted me with food. She tried to force feed me but that’s more food = love “Eat, Eat, You Skinny.”

    I still feel terrible when I waste food and do tie a lot of emotions to it. I wish I were more neutral about it.

  9. Prosklitiria Gamou Says:

    I try hard not to put any food on the waste basket but to be honest it is not always easy. The most important in any person’s life, according my opinion, is to have a balance and unfortunately at this point i can’t say that my life is totally balanced.
    So some times i can’t use all the food in time and i have to pit them on the waste basket. I feel bad for this anyway and i will try hard to stop this!

  10. Linda Says:

    I usually freeze bread before it gets stale and then I can toast it later for sandwiches or whatever. I do a lot of freezing of leftovers and individual ingredients so they don’t get wasted. Other than that, I tend to do the standard things others have mentioned here with fresh leftovers (although that pot sticker idea is a new one and totally rocks!) but I still mess up at times and have to toss things. Usually it’s a vegetable or fruit item that has to go, so I can at least feel it’s been salvaged in some way as it goes into the compost. Last night I composted a mango that I never got around to eating before it got too soft and icky. :-( I do miss my little hens who were great at eating leftovers and scraps. They would eat anything I didn’t want and give me eggs in return. *sigh* I need more hens.

  11. Carnival of Personal Finance: Summer Edition | Well Heeled Blog Says:

    [...] from Nicole and Maggie: Grumpy Rumblings presents Wasting food is a sin*, and says, “Nicole and Maggie discuss how not to waste food and good uses for rescuing [...]

  12. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Hey internet people with the homework assignment to write an opinion essay (or actually it looks like not even that, you’re supposed to write notes or something, probably for discussion in class) on whether or not wasting food is a sin– this is one of those assignments where you can and should do the thinking yourself! Just sit down and think!!!


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