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Blog: Every Bite Counts

“Win . Don’t Bin” With Your Leftovers This Food Waste Action Week

Did you know avoidable food waste costs the average Canadian household $1300 every year? What a waste! It’s time we reframe our thinking about leftovers and start treating them like the mealtime superheroes they are.

Not only can leftovers save you time and money but managing leftovers effectively can go a long way to prevent food waste.

Here are five ways you can “Win. Don’t Bin” this Food Waste Action Week by better managing your leftovers.

1. Plan for the Right Amount

Instead of leaving leftovers to chance, be strategic about them when meal planning. Plan a meal dedicated to using up leftovers then use our portion size guide to ensure you make enough ingredients for two meals. Or, if you really don’t like leftovers, use the portion guide to make just enough to avoid leftovers altogether.

2. Simply Reheat

The easiest way to use up leftovers is to simply reheat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here’s how:

Microwave – Loosely cover food so steam can escape, add a little liquid to keep it moist, and reheat in short intervals, stirring in between, until the desired temperature is reached.

StovetopAdd food to pot or pan, add a small amount of liquid if needed, and heat on low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Oven – Transfer food to a heatproof dish, cover with foil and heat at 180°C/350°F for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. Add a little liquid if needed and stir occasionally.

3. Repurpose into Something New

Get creative and turn your leftovers into new meal ideas like these:

  • Make a frittata or omelette. Mix leftover vegetables, meats, and grains into beaten eggs and cook in a skillet. Try Breakfast Muffin Frittatas.
  • Use leftover cooked meats to make sandwiches, wraps, or salads, like this Chicken Salad.
  • Make a pasta dish like this Versatile Lasagna to use up leftover veggies, meat and sauces.
  • Make a stir-fry. Combine leftover vegetables and meats with a sauce and cook in a large skillet for a quick and easy dinner. Try this Speedy Beef Stir Fry.
  • Make soups, stews or curries. Follow our tips for Making Soup without a Recipe.

For more inspiration enter your leftover food or ingredient in our recipe search bar or read 5 Ways with Commonly Wasted Foods.

4. Store Well for Best Results

Proper storage is key to keeping leftovers fresh and safe to eat. Cool leftovers quickly in a shallow container. Transfer to convenient, portion-sized, airtight containers and put them in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Most leftovers can be safely stored like this for 3-4 days. If you know you can’t eat them within that time, freeze them right away.

5. Freeze for the Future

If you can’t eat them right away, freeze leftovers. Place them in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags with as little air space as possible. Package in amounts that will be convenient for you to thaw and use. Label clearly with date, contents, and amounts.  Frozen leftovers are safe to eat for a long time, but for best quality use them within 3-4 months.

What’s your favourite go to leftover recipe? Add a photo to Instagram and tag @lovefoodhatewasteca so we can see it and like it! Click here for more information on Food Waste Action Week.

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