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Waste not, want not...

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In light of the great threads on Recession recipes, I'm hoping for some other suggestions. We all know about obvious creative culinary uses for leftovers or things past their prime. I'm thinking of bread pudding, rice pudding, croutons, bread crumbs, applesauce from trimmed bruised apples, bones/scraps for stock, etc. These are ways to give food items a second life.

I'm not talking about using spoiled food, just looking for some 'Hound ideas or experience with how to keep the budget tight and avoid food waste. I''d love to hear your suggestions!

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  1. Someone recently had a post going about uses for parts of food that people generally throw out. Maybe someone knows which post that was, I couldn't find it quickly. If well washed, many things that people often peel (carrots, potatoes, winter squash, etc) , don't really need to be peeled. Better of course if they're organically grown. Pulp from carrot juice works well in various carrot bread, carrot cake, or carrot cookie recipes. Trimmed leaves from cauliflower can be eaten, just cook in with whatever the cauliflower is in, though for a shorter amount of time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lgss

      Your mention of carrot cake reminded me that if I have bananas that are getting to old to eat (hate them mushy) I throw them in a freezer in a ziploc until I have a few then make banana bread with them. Just did it today in fact and it is really good! I had an about 1/3 of an old bag of butterscotch chips and some walnuts so tossed those in and yum...the butterscotch chips fell to the bottom and kind of carmelized. It was delicious.

    2. A large roasting chicken can make many meals after the bird is carved.
      1st night-chicken etc..
      2nd night-chicken and biscuits
      3rd night-mushroom risotto using stock made from the roasted carcass
      4th night-fried risotto balls (leftover from previous night) to accompany etc.

      I've done this many times with the family. It is a challenge that I find fun.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Lenox637

        don't forget chicken enchildas... chicken salad on a bed of greens.... soup, soup and more soup

        1. re: Lenox637

          I do pretty much the same with lamb shanks.

        2. I think the thread lgss is thinking of is: under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting? http://www.chowhound.com/topics/495972

          1 Reply
          1. re: maplesugar

            Thank you! I don't know how I'd missed that thread. There are some wonderful ideas on there.

            I also have a stash of frozen bananas. But in addition to banana bread, I use many of them for whole wheat banana pancakes -- wonderful as they are OR gilded with chocolate chips, berries, and/or toasted walnuts! They also work as additions to fruit smoothies -- adding some cold and thickening with less ice.

          2. This weekend I simmered a large ham for ham sandwiches on Saturday for lunch. Took the simmered ham, glazed it and baked it off for Sunday dinner. Tonight if I have time we will have ham and scalloped potatoes, otherwise tomorow night. Probably Wednesday we will finish off the ham as ham and eggs for dinner. Not to mention the ham bone went in the freezer for a future soup.

            Not bad for one ham.

            4 Replies
            1. re: swsidejim

              "Not to mention the ham bone went in the freezer for a future soup."

              Beans? Corn Chowder? Details man, inquiring minds....

              1. re: swsidejim

                I love ham for this reason. So many different meals from one piece of meat. I always buy a bone-in shank and have the butcher cut off a couple of nice steaks, and save those in the freezer to fry up for dinner at a later time with green and potatoes. Then we bake the ham and serve with scalloped potatoes. I take the leftovers from that and dice some for ham and beans (much like the Senate soup recipe but I always add celery leaves) and grind the rest for ham salad sandwiches. Then I use the diced ham and ham bone the next night for the ham and beans, which lasts a couple of nights (we always make this on New Years Day for good luck). My waistline can't handle this very often though!

                1. re: MrsCheese

                  Don't forget sliced ham and swiss sandwiches too, and ham and eggs for breakfast. I made so many hams recently that I tried making red eye ham for the first time and we love it. I also save the little bits to throw in Mexican or Chinese rice dishes. The grand finale is usually split pea soup.

              2. we always save the carcass of our birds (mainly chickens and cornish hens). the skin, bones, cartilage, etc go towards making stock.

                along with that, we often save our onion ends/skins, carrot/celery ends, garlic peels (if we're peeling a lot of garlic at once), etc, to add to the stock.

                same with shrimp - we save all the shells for stock.

                we store all this stuff in ziplocs in the freezer until we're ready to make stock.

                someone else mentioned ham as well. my husband smoked a 10lb ham last week. as it's just the 2 of us, that left a lot of leftover ham. we had some sandwiches, i made ham salad, and i'm going to do a mac n cheese with ham. we saved the bone for soup or beans or greens.

                the rinds of parmesan cheese work nicely in sauces - they help thicken.

                we do a pretty good job of not wasting veg. when we see something getting close to its end, we plan our menu based on that instead of protein. "what's for dinner tonight?" "i don't know, but we're having green beans on the side..."

                and we NEVER waste bacon fat. :)

                2 Replies
                1. re: mrsjenpeters

                  Great ideas. I also have frozen all of the skins from vegis, carcasses, ect.. but find I forget they are in the freezer and find them much later look worse for wear. Any tricks on how to remember they are in there.

                  Also, how do you keep your bacon fat? Freezer? or how long does it last in the fridge? I have never been sure.

                  1. re: jodymaryk

                    we have 3 freezers, that helps - everything has its own place haha. :) chest freezer in the basement, normal fridge/freezer combo on the 2ndary fridge in the basement, and your normal freezer on our fridge in the kitchen. it's a bottom freezer and has a little slide out top drawer where we generally keep these goodies. either way, i think it helps to keep them in clear ziplocs, labeled properly, and store these kinds of things in the same spot. that way it's easy to see when you've got enough to be used - dh will go to toss a chicken carcass in the freezer and see we have 2 already, and make stock the next day. no pop up reminders, but it works for us.

                    we keep our bacon fat in a jar in the fridge. i'm not 100% sure how long it lasts in the fridge - i've heard conflicting stories (6 weeks, 3 months, indefinitely). store bought manteca lasts forever so i have to think it'd last a pretty good while. we've never had a problem with it smelling funny or going bad, to my knowledge. makes the world's best biscuits.

                    fyi we're using that ham hock tomorrow to make red beans and rice... with homemade smoked polish sausage from my sister's boyfriend. me = excited.

                2. Had large family dinner Sunday evening and 1/2 of large ciabatta bread ($4.99 @ Whole Foods!) is left over. Will be making sausage, cheese and mushroom strata casserole tonight to sit in fridge for Tuesday dinner. Leftover ratatouille will resurface later this week as a quiche filling.

                  Always plan ahead for leftovers, think of them not as recession cuisine, but a timesaver or getting a jump on another nights dinner. Now that Passover has passed, will be defrosting leftover roast turkey to make turkey tettrazinni.

                  Made some poached salmon for the vegetarian family members last night. I always ask my fish monger for fish heads and bones to make a savory poaching liquid. I have never been charged for this.

                  Important to sit down weekly or on regular schedule and do some grocery shopping, menu planning to ensure you spend as little as possible for maximum nutrient value, maximize time saving and re-use!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                    I agree, menu planning is key to making sure you get the most for your grocery dollar. I also find if there's something lingering in the fridge that's near expiry I check here or epicurious for ideas.

                    Like others have said, chicken stock from leftover roast chicken, soup from the stock. Leftover mashed potatoes become a topping for shepherd's pie or thicken up a corn chowder. Saves money and time in the kitchen :)

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      I love menu planning. When you factor in what you have in your fridge, freezer, pantry, garden, what's on sale at the store, what season it is, what you'll be doing each evening, who's eating...it's like real life sudoku! And then you eat it!

                        1. re: yamalam

                          Yes, just emailed DH grocery list for the week based on perusing several grocery store web sites for what's on sale, the butcher's weekly online specials, etc. I keep a calendar on the fridge of prospective weekly dinners to ensure we are using the food we have purchased. Also keep an inventory of the large freezer in the basement which is a treasure trove of sale items, homemade casseroles, soups, etc. Like the sukoku connection, never thought of that. When DD complains about boring food, always offer to let her do menu research and planning, but no takers so far.

                    2. I buy lemons when they are cheap and freeze the juice and the zest, separately. Also, just made candied grapefruit rinds after slicing up the fruit. I dipped the tip of each in chocolate and it made a lovely hostess gift.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: sarah galvin

                        I haven't paid much attention to the price of lemons. Are they cheaper in the summer or at a particular time? Or are you finding the price goes up and down.

                        This seems like a great idea. (Also your grapefruit rinds.)

                        1. re: karykat

                          The price goes up and down. Sometimes they are a lost leader and a great buy.

                          1. re: sarah galvin

                            Makes sense. Do you lose any quality when you freeze the juice and zest or is it just as good?

                            1. re: karykat

                              It's just as good. I used some a couple of days ago and was again amazed at how fresh it tasted. I put the juice in mini tupperware shot glasses and the zest in a freezer bag. I wouldn't keep it too, too long in the freezer but it sure helps if you have over purchased or are going away and can't use it right away. I tried making candied lime rinds. They were also very tasty (used it as a garnish on a dessert) but, if you can believe it, took longer to soften than grapefruit. I liked them both.

                              1. re: sarah galvin

                                I zest and juice lemons from my neighbor's tree and put them in freezer bags just like you. Lasts me a long time this way. I initially freeze the juice in a flat pan and then just break it into chunks and store in freezer bag. If I need some lemon juice, I just chip off a little from the pieces in the bag. I put the zest directly into a freezer bag in a thin layer and just pull off what I need. Works great!

                                1. re: choctastic

                                  I'm envious that you have a real tree to pick lemons from and not a grocery shelf ;)

                                  1. re: choctastic

                                    I agree with smtucker, freezing lemon juice in ice cube trays would work well, similar to freezing stock for future use...and in equal 2 tbsp (at leasy in my trays) portions. :)

                                  2. re: sarah galvin

                                    Excellent. This is good to know. Thanks, choctastic, also for the tips.

                            2. re: sarah galvin

                              Brilliant! I freeze lemon and lime juice in ice cube trays, but had never considered the zest. Love it love it love it.

                              Ice cube trays are also good for freezing tomatillo sauce, or any other sauce you want to make when the ingredients are on sale.

                              I like the ice cube trays because I now "know" how much liquid I get for 2 cubes or 3. After the cubes are frozen, I simply move them into a marked plastic bag (with the date.)

                            3. I keep a container in the freezer labeled "chicken livers." Every time I roast a chicken, the liver goes in there. When I have enough (half a pound or so) I make chopped chicken liver or chicken liver pate.

                              1. Don't feed your kids...: )

                                No seriously - my kids waste so much food, and I give them small portions and don't let them have a snack until they finish what they have started, but still - they would rather go to bed hungry than eat vegetables sometimes...

                                OK end of rant post having to throw away nice CSA carrots, because they decided they weren't hungry for dinner last night : )...

                                I recycle everything, last nights socca topping was repurposed as extra veggies with todays lunch. I immediately freeze things in either individual servings or famly sized servings if I don't think I will eat the leftovers in time. I also make sure I work my way through the freezer before I allow myself to stock up on new things. Same with the pantry - it stays so full, but I don't cram. I don't buy anything unless there is room for it.

                                1. I concur with most everyone here - don't peel unless you absolutely must, freeze black bananas, freeze lemon zest (I don't do this as often as I should, but I've done it), stock, bacon fat, parm rinds and so on.

                                  If you bake bread, you can use up leftover grains (cooked bulgur or oatmeal, for example) or the water grains were cooked in. I often use only half a can of tomato paste, and always freeze the remainder, same with chipotles in adobe. Leftover steamed vegetables can be more appealing day two if you throw a vinaigrette over them while still warm. I sometimes make pickled carrot sticks from leftover dill pickle brine - just heat and pour over blanched carrots. And I've started saving the liquid from braising meat that doesn't get eaten with the meat for the next braise. Just gets more and more flavorful.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: curiousbaker

                                    Braising liquid can also make a good sauce for pasta.

                                  2. Looks like the lesson here is that your freezer is your friend! I completely agree. At the very least it gives you more time to think of a use for something that you may have bought in haste.

                                    Aside from items previously mentioned, I freeze egg whites. Sometimes you have them leftover from other recipes. They make good merengues, egg-white omelettes, etc.

                                    Bread crumbs freeze really well in plastic bags. Don't waste that old bread!

                                    I saw Nigella freeze portions of wine in plastic bags on her TV show years ago. I keep meaning to try that, but we rarely have any left over!

                                    All chicken carcasses and bones go in the freezer until it's time to make stock. Then that goes in the freezer in little portions.

                                    1. Fruit that is getting kind of ratty goes well in jello. Just don't use raw pineapple or kiwi as the jello won't set. Grapefruit that is unpleasantly sour can be used in black cherry jello---cut grapefruit in half and dig out bits as if you were going to eat it but dump it in the jello instead---somehow the finished product ends up tasting like fresh black cherries.