Do you ever have leftover fruits and vegetables that you just don’t know what to do with? As the dog days of summer come to a close, there’s an abundance of fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready for picking. It’s an exciting time with so many fresh food options available, and most times we have leftovers.
And like most things we leave to deal with at a later time, those leftovers get forgotten. They go bad, and we feel guilty about it. Our forgetfulness feels like negligence when we waste food that we could have eaten.
But that’s okay. It happens. Instead of harbouring guilt over the food we’ve wasted, we can look forward to trying new ways to repurpose leftover produce the next time you find yourself in that situation. Your overripe bananas, softening tomatoes, and zucchinis can be salvaged.
One of the most common ways to make fresh food last longer is to preserve them. Pickling, jamming, and making sauces have been around to make food last through the winter months for generations. Creating homemade sauces is a great way to repurpose your leftover vegetables into something you can have on hand in your pantry for any occasion. If your interests don’t lie in the kitchen, then you can chop up the vegetables and add them to a store-bought jar of sauce when making a meal. That way, you can sneak more vegetables into meals without your family noticing.
Chop and Freeze Fruits and Vegetables
Another way to preserve your leftover summer produce is to chop, bag, and freeze your fruits and vegetables. This is an effective way to always ensure that you have vegetables on hand year round to make any meal you feel like. Once frozen, you can add these vegetables to any meal like a soup, stew, or baked dish.
Repurpose Leftover Produce into Prepared Meals
If you’re someone who relies on meal prepping, leftover produce is an opportunity to make large quantities of meals and freeze them for another time. When it’s a couple months later and you encounter a stressful day when you have no time to make anything to eat, you will have a meal ready to be cooked in the freezer. Whether you choose to make a lasagna, shepherds pie, casserole, chicken pot pie or another favourite, you can count on your leftovers to help you on days where you don’t have the time or energy to cook.
Make a Smoothie
When we think of smoothies, we often think they contain three things: yogurt, berries, and ice. Smoothies are so much more than that. If you have an overripe banana, toss it in the blender. Do you have an excess of kale? You can make a green smoothie with it. There are many smoothie recipes out there that combine the nutritional benefits from your fruits and veggies, with the refreshingly creamy taste that smoothies offer.
Compost What Can’t Be Eaten
Sometimes, our leftover produce can’t be salvaged, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. When our food spoils, it can still have value through composting. Compost is rich in nutrients that is beneficial to the earth in many ways. It acts as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, and a natural pesticide for soils. While you can’t use spoiled food for cooking, know that by composting your leftover food, you’re repurposing produce in a way that enriches the environment. Whether you have a service to pick up your compost or have a composter in your backyard, composting your food is far from wasteful.
There are many ways to repurpose leftover produce to reduce our food waste. All it takes is some creativity and a look at what’s left in our refrigerators. This list is by no means exhaustive, so consider it a starting point. What are some ways you use leftover produce?
Written by Eleni Zaptses
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