Summer is in full swing here in Utah, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all the fresh fruits and veggies that are now in season. In fact, I keep stopping at the produce stands along Main Street on a whim, and everything looks so good that I just HAVE to buy something. But in my enthusiasm I often fail to consider exactly how I’m going to use up all those fresh fruits and veggies and end up wasting a good deal of it. :-(
As with most of my personal conundrums, I decided to turn my problem into a blog post. :-) That way, I can solve my issue, and we can all hopefully learn a thing or two in the process. Today I’m sharing 3 different solutions I’ve adopted to help make the most of the fresh food in our fridges!
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Tip 1 – Plan “Meal Chains”
Meal planning can be tough at the best of times. I’m no wizard at it, but thinking ahead can really pay off when it comes to your weekly leftovers.
Take stock of the recipes you make regularly, and identify any groups of recipes with overlapping ingredients. For instance, a veggie-packed salad might have many of the same ingredients as a favorite stir-fry. Group similar recipes together to form “meal chains,” where you can use the ingredients leftover from one recipe to make another one later on.
Planning a meal chain takes a bit of extra effort, but it makes it much easier to use up all the groceries you buy for the week. You can save yourself time and money, and reduce the chance that you’ll have leftover ingredients that go bad in your fridge. Here are a few other ideas for meal chains for inspiration.
Meal 1 – Make fajitas that are packed with fresh and tasty veggies.
Meal 2 – Use leftover veggies (both cooked and uncooked) to make a delicious sauce for pasta.
Meal 1 – Make your favorite pot roast with potatoes, onions, carrots, and other veggies.
Meal 2 – Heat the leftover roasted veggies through on your stovetop with ground beef and tomato sauce. Layer mashed potatoes over the top for a quick and easy Shepherd’s Pie!
Tip 2 – Make Adaptable Meals
Even when we have the best intentions, sometimes life gets away from us and our meal planning falls to the wayside. And that’s okay! You can still find plenty of clever ways to use up the ingredients that you have on hand.
Plan ahead for such occasions by having an arsenal of easily adaptable recipes at the ready. I’m talking about the kinds of recipes where you just throw a few things into a pan or pot. Some of my favorite easily adaptable meals are:
- Breakfast hash
All of these foods can be adapted to include whatever veggies or protein you happen to have on hand. All it takes is a little creativity, and a willingness to try something new. :-)
Tip 3 – Don’t Let Food Go To Waste
Even if you plan meal chains and make adaptable meals, sometimes you still have extra ingredients or leftovers at the end of the week. Perhaps you’re taking stock of your fridge and realizing that if you don’t use these foods soon, they’re going to go bad.
But you don’t have to eat them all right away to avoid having them go to waste! I wrote a post recently that featured 10 clever tips that can help you use up the last bits of food in your fridge and pantry.
There are also several different food storage methods you can use to keep something fresh for longer. Put it in a freezer bag and store it in your freezer, or can it if you prefer. Recently, I’ve been enjoying using my dehydrator to store foods for longer.