My son and I recently volunteered at a community kitchen. This amazing initiative served up 2500 meals a week to women’s shelters, the homeless, the sick and the elderly.
It opened up our eyes, to the tragic reality that there are about 2 million Australians seeking food relief every year, half of which are children. There are about 105,000 homeless people in Australia of which 17,000 are under 12.
Meanwhile Aussies throw out $8 billion worth of edible food each year, 4 million tones of it. Between 20 and 40 percent of fruit and vegetables grown are rejected before they reach the shops because they are ‘cosmetically unacceptable’.
I’ve been brought up in a family that abhorred throwing any food out and whilst I was a bit of a ‘chucker’ before…I’m happy to report that we have been keeping to a near zero food waste lifestyle in our household.
We do this by buying fresh food in small quantities (2 days worth max) but more importantly we are meal magicians. Here are some ‘tricks’ that we use to transform yesterday’s leftovers into today’s meal. Word of warning, this is not suited for vegetarians:
1) I am a regular broth brewer. ALL bones and stalks of vegetables are reused this way.
2) The roast beef or lamb that’s been sitting in the fridge for two days isn’t the most appetizing. However when you slow cook it in a base of tomatoes and herbs; non-appetizing turns into ‘more please.’
3) EVERYTHING tastes better when you turn it into a curry. Even better everything CAN be turned into a curry. Just cook up some spices, add to it the leftover meat and add coconut milk, cream or yoghurt.
4) What about leftover curry itself? Stir it through some pasta or noodles and you get a new dish.
5) Left over gravy from one night’s meal can be kept in the fridge and added to another dish to give it amazing depth and taste. Experiment by introducing something new to the gravy like orange juice, plum jam, mustard, lemon or herbs to make it taste entirely different to what it was before.
6) Fried rice or noodles. Everyone knows how leftover rice or meat is magically transformed into everyone’s favourite meal with a simple fry up.
7) Turn it into a pie. Practically anything tastes amazing when you cover it with a layer of fresh pastry and stick it in the oven.
8) Layer and bake. Leftovers are your best friends for lasagne and vegetable bakes. Don’t worry about making tedious béchamel. Just layer with cream and cheese (sorry if you’re lactose intolerant).
9) How good does anything taste when added to a whisked egg in a pan?
10) Butter and garlic. Add anything to just -browned butter with garlic (herbs optional) is hard to resist. Stir it through fresh pasta and dig in!
These are just some of the countless ways we use leftovers in our house. Of course no leftover escapes the kids lunchboxes or my lunch-time salad. Have fun with your leftover and get fascinated by the process of transforming food!