Be A Winter Leftover Warrior: Eliminate Food Waste With 3 Crucial Chef Tips And 3 Easy Recipes - The Chef Upstairs

Be A Winter Leftover Warrior: Eliminate Food Waste With 3 Crucial Chef Tips And 3 Easy Recipes

The winter season is a time for hosting and hibernating

Whether it comes to hosting large holiday get-togethers or stocking the freezer with prepped meals, the winter refrigerator seems to be always be inundated with leftovers. Good thing, right? Well, yes, but this come with it’s challenges.

The major challenge is the obvious: Food Waste. How do we prevent food from going in the bin, while making sure we are eating safe and nutritious food? 

The second challenge is Leftover Lethargy. How do we get through fresh leftovers without getting bored at meal time. Let’s be honest… If your family is bored of what’s in the fridge then chances are they won’t eat it. (See first challenge)

So, how do we tackle this dilemma of food waste and dinner table boredom? Here are 3 crucial tips and 3 delicious recipes to help make you a Winter Leftover Warrior!

The first tip is the FIFO Method, meaning First In, First Out. What goes in the fridge first, gets used first. Thursday’s leftover should be used before Friday’s. Let’s say two cartons of milk with similar expiration dates are opened and put back in the fridge; the milk opened first gets used first. This also works with open wine, cheese, and produce. 

This system ensures that all food is used in the order of expiration, however, certain steps need to be taken for this to work. All applicable items need to be properly labelled and dated. Clean and conscious food handling is also crucial for this method to work, meaning handling food with clean hands and not leaving items unrefrigerated for prolonged periods of time. Finally, it only works if the whole family is on-board.  

The second tip is the Weekly Reset Method. Once a week it is a good idea to pull everything out of the refrigerator, the refrigerator scrubbed clean of lingering bacteria, and everything organized back inside. 

This method is important as it is a helpful reminder of what’s in your fridge. Hey, remember the rest of that can of coconut milk you opened? Smoothie Time! Oh, we actually had an extra cucumber hiding in the drawer. Cross that off the shopping list! Find all of those sauces and prepped ingredients and make sure you use them before you lose them. 

Tip number three on reducing food waste is Get Creative. Leftovers can be delicious, but turkey and stuffing three days in a row can leave your family uninspired and looking to the pantry for something else to eat. Remember that food left on the table is also a form of food wood waste, so if this is a recurring situation then it is probably time to get creative!

From making stocks, soups, and stews to making comfort foods like pot pie and risotto, all it takes is a cup of creativity, a spoonful of time, and dash of skills in the kitchen to create something special out of whatever is in your fridge.  

But, what if I’m just not that creative? I’m so used to following a recipe; how can I just make something up? In short, don’t overthink it. How do you do that? Here are a few points to consider: 

You already know what you like, right? Think of dishes you’ve liked since you were a kid. Can one of those dishes be recreated in some form using what’s on hand? You also already know a wide range of ingredients and flavours that go well together; Honey and garlic, cheese and tomato, maple and bacon, cinnamon and squash, lemon and fish. Also, look at flavours in a broader sense; salty and sweet (salted caramel), sweet and spicy (coconut curry), bitter and sweet (roasted eggplant with honey), sweet and sour (lemon meringue pie). 

Whether you are confident in the kitchen or not, you are a database of culinary knowledge. So feel free to mix ingredients that you already know go well together from experience or take a chance on assumptions based on broader flavours that goes together. Maple roasted eggplant dip with lemon-bacon crumble, anyone? 

So what did we learn, warriors? Follow the first in, first out (FIFO) method, “reset” the fridge each week, and get creative with your leftovers. The fridge is a constant battle, but follow these incredible chef tips and victory will be certain… and delicious!

Need a some more inspiration? Here are  3 simple and delicious recipes from Upstairs to elevate your dinner game, while clearing that fridge!


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