I read a disturbing fact recently about wasted food – almost 40 percent of the food produced in the USA is wasted between the time is is grown and harvested and then spoils or goes uneaten.
Homesteaders and farmers are close to the land. We grow a lot of what we eat. And precious money that is spent on food results in food that is carefully chosen and protected before being used.
Food doesn’t necessarily have to be consumed the same way it was prepared. In other words, transform those leftovers! For instance, our Christmas dinner was a roasted ham, mashed potatoes and a variety of vegetables. Today, it was transformed into honey fried ham and fried potato cakes for lunch.
There are plenty of cookbooks written about using leftovers. Eating things the same way the originally prepared may get boring, but making a new dish from leftovers can be an art. Food is transformed from one stage to entirely new level.
Easy simple ways to use up food: put bits of meat and vegetables into a soup or stew, make a vegetable hash or stir fry, turn already cooked pork or beef into shredded, barbecued sandwiches. Blend veggies into a sauce. Turn leftover pot roast or roast beef into hot meat open faced sandwiches. Take stale bread and make bread pudding for dessert or croutons for salad, or whir up in the food processor and make bread crumbs. Use your imagination. Next time you reach for a condiment or ingredient, ask yourself, could I be making this?
I save left over vegetables in the freezer. I have a container in which a tablespoon of this or a quarter cup of that just gets dumped in. When it’s full, I have enough for soup or stew or potpie or fritatta.
If you can’t use the food up right away, preserve it. Wrap up tightly and eliminate as much air as possible and stick it in the freezer. Use a vacuum sealer if you have it. If it’s food that can be canned, and you have the pressure canner to do it, can it up for another meal on a day when you don’t have time to cook. Roast bones and chicken carcasses, then make broth for cooking or soup.
Despite your best efforts, some food may get old. I put all vegetable scraps into my compost pile, where it can turn into a wonder supplement for my garden. If you have chickens or pigs, most likely they will eat it. If I have meat, bones or fat scraps, the feral cats and raccoons will love it.
Making the effort to not waste food may seem difficult at first, but it’s better for the planet, and ourselves, to use nutritious food while it is still good and can be used, rather than let it go to waste. Not to mention it saves money!