Recipes to Reduce Food Waste

Make the most out of your sparse grocery trips with these food waste-reducing recipes.

Wasting precious grocery in a time like now is no wise option, with COVID-19 causing grocery store shortages and job layoffs. Nonetheless, the recipes below may offer you a solution to the perishables at the back of your fridge. (Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Overstocked on aubergines during your quarantine grocery trips? Not sure how to make use of your $7 organic strawberries after they’ve gone mushy? Between COVID-19 causing food shortages and layoffs left and right, now is not the time to be wasting fresh produce. Even the most unsightly, bruised veggies and fruits sitting in the back of your fridge can be repurposed into these simple, tasty dishes.

“Kitchen Sink” Ratatouille

As featured on Florence Pugh’s Instagram stories, chopping up your bruised vegetables and cooking them down in a pan into a sauce-like concoction is a delicious and easy way to use your leftover produce. Eat it by itself, serve with pasta or bread or go Florence Pugh-style and top your veggies with some feta cheese before serving.

 

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Ingredients:

Sausage such as chorizo (optional), chopped into 1-inch cubes

Your favorite cooking oil

Around two cups of leftover veggies like tomatoes, peppers or eggplants, chopped into cubes or diced if you want a more sauce-like texture

One yellow onion, diced

Four or so cloves of garlic, minced

Italian seasonings to taste (basil, thyme, oregano et cetera)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cheese, if you want

  1. If you’re a meat-eater, start by heating up some oil in a frying pan and throw in your diced sausage
  2. Once your sausage is cooked — non-meat eaters start here — add in your garlic and onion to the oil. 
  3. Cook down garlic and onion until soft, making sure it doesn’t burn
  4. Start to add in your other vegetables, beginning with the ones that need to cook down longer like eggplants and carrots, and adding softer vegetables later.
  5. After 5-10 minutes or so of cooking, add in your sauce of choice (optional) and continue to cook down to your preferred texture
  6. Season with your salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and give it a good mix
  7. Remove from pan and serve however you like!

Quiche

Another great way to use up a bunch of random veggies before they go bad is by baking them into a quiche. This recipe is from Moosewood Cookbook, and my mom has been using it for years. Full of protein and nutrients, this classic French dish can also be frozen and reheated for later. 

 

Ingredients:

One premade pie crust

Cooking oil or butter

Four eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

Three tablespoons flour

1/4 tablespoon salt

1/4 tablespoon dry mustard (optional)

1/4 tablespoon garlic powder

One cup chopped veggies of your choice

1/2 cup grated cheese such as mozzarella, gruyere or Swiss

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Line a 9-inch pie dish with pie crust 
  3. Cover bottom of crust with cheese
  4. Heat up some cooking oil or butter in a frying pan
  5. Sautee your vegetables in the pan for about 3-5 minutes
  6. Place veggies on top of cheese
  7. Beat together eggs, milk, flour and seasonings
  8. Pour mixture over cheese and veggies
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until solid in center when jiggled
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Stir-Fry

Versatile and healthy, stir-fry is just about the easiest meal you can make that can be customized to fit virtually any dietary needs. The key is to cook with an oil that has a high smoke point — meaning it doesn’t burn easily at high temperatures — like canola oil or avocado oil, instead of olive oil. 

 

Ingredients:

Protein like chicken, beef or tofu (optional)

Cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil, or vegetable oil

One yellow onion, diced

Four or so cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 cups of veggies, cut into even pieces

Rice or noodles (optional)

Sauce (if you don’t have some of these ingredients, use what’s in your home and customize to your taste!):

  • 4-6 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Sesame oil to taste, about two teaspoons
  • Rice wine vinegar (mirin) to taste, about two teaspoons
  • Hoisin sauce to taste, about one tablespoon
  • Minced ginger to taste, about one tablespoon 
  • One tablespoon brown sugar or honey
  • One tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of water (to thicken sauce, optional)
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  1. Prepare rice or noodles (optional) and set aside
  2. Prepare your protein however you normally cook it (optional) and set aside
  3. Heat up cooking oil in a frying pan
  4. Once oil is hot, add garlic and onions and cook until fragrant
  5. Start to add in your other vegetables, again beginning with the ones that need to cook down longer like eggplants and carrots, and adding softer vegetables later.
  6. Cook until soft, around 7-10 minutes
  7. Add in your protein
  8. Stir together sauce ingredients in a bowl or cup and add to pan
  9. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, making sure to coat protein and veggies evenly with sauce
  10. Serve with rice or noodles!

Fruit Jam

Not only is homemade jam a great way to make use of leftover fruit, but it’s a fun quarantine activity and makes your kitchen smell incredible. This basic jam recipe from Kitchn can be modified for pretty much any fruit of your choosing, though berries tend to be easiest. If you want to go the extra mile, double or triple the recipe and store in Mason jars for future use. 

 

Ingredients:

Two cups of fruit, cut into even 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup of sugar

One tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch of salt

  1. Put all ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat
  2. Mash with a large fork to get a jammy texture
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir frequently
  4. Boil for about 20 minutes while continuing to stir until mixture thickens
  5. Check to see if the jam is set by coating the back of a spoon with your mixture and waiting a few seconds before running your finger down the center. If there is a distinct track in the jam, it is done cooking. If not, keep cooking and rechecking every few minutes
  6. Once the jam is set, remove your saucepan from heat
  7. Put jam in mason jars or container of your preference and let cool
  8. Serve on toast, in ice cream or on a charcuterie board and enjoy!

Email Lauren Gruber at [email protected]

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