Have you ever bought way too much of something because it was on sale, looked fresh, or was in season, and then watched it go to waste because you could not use it fast enough? Lark may make you feel even more motivated to stock up on those healthy foods!
It’s great that you are taking steps to manage weight and eat healthier, but what happens when that pile of fresh, healthy foods starts to age? It is a shame to throw it away, and tossing it out can lead to feelings of regret, disappointment, or simply curiosity about how you could have made better use of that food.
Here are 10 ideas to help you use your healthy groceries and avoid food waste!
1. Soup (use up vegetables, herbs, chicken, fish, and/or milk)
The nice thing about soup is that almost anything goes. You can use nearly any combination of vegetables, herbs, and protein such as chicken, fish, shellfish, tofu, beans, or lentils, and your soup will probably turn out great. You can even use milk to make a reduced-fat cream soup. If you have an abundance of a certain vegetable, such as carrots or butternut squash, you can add a lot, and puree the soup to make it thick.
Soups freeze nicely, and often taste better after being stored in the freezer for a while.
2. Salad (use up greens, chicken or fish, and/or bread)
If salad greens start to wilt, it can still be served after soaking it in ice water for 30 minutes. (The same is true for celery). A tossed salad is a good opportunity to use up leftover proteins like chicken or fish, not to mention homemade croutons if you had some whole-wheat bread getting stale. Just cut it up, toss it with olive oil and garlic, and toast it.
3. Spaghetti Sauce (use up tomatoes)
A big batch of tomatoes can all ripen quickly, since tomatoes should not go into the fridge. Don’t feel bad if you need to cook a suddenly-ripe batch of tomatoes. Cooking them releases a healthy phytonutrient called lycopene to make it easier for your body to absorb. Tomato soup, spaghetti sauce, and salsa are just a few tomato-based recipes.
4. Broccomole and Other Dips (use up broccoli or other vegetables)
When that broccoli you bought during a recent health kick is starting to age, what can you do? Making broccomole is a good way to cook and eat a lot of broccoli, fast. Blend cooked, pureed broccoli with garlic, lime juice, cumin, onion powder, and diced cilantro. Other vegetable-based dips include eggplant dip (baba ghanouj or mutabal) and pureed cauliflower dip made with plain Greek yogurt and herbs. These dips go well with raw vegetables or toasted whole-wheat pita or other whole-wheat bread – the staler, the better.
5. French Toast (use up bread and eggs)
Speaking of stale bread, what about healthy French toast to use up some whole-grain bread? You can make it healthier by using half the eggs, and substituting 2 egg whites for each of the other eggs. Swapping almond milk for regular, and frying in cooking spray instead of butter, both cut calories. Adding vanilla or orange juice, or topping them with a dusting of baking cocoa, can add flair.
6. Meatloaf (use up ground turkey, vegetables, and/or bread)
Meatloaf is a tried-and-true favorite, and ground turkey makes it healthier. You hide extra vegetables such as chopped spinach, pureed eggplant, and grated zucchini, or make it chunky with tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and onions. You can also use tomato sauce or tomato paste and herbs instead of ketchup if you want to avoid a few grams of sugar. Instead of white cracker crumbs, whole-grain breadcrumbs or oats or ground cheerios add fiber.
7. Is moldy cheese safe? (use up cheese)
Hard cheese is supposed to last for months, but what happens when you open the package and find a spot of mould? Do you need to throw away the whole block? Probably not. If you can cut away the mould and a 1-inch area around it, you can eat the rest of the cheese. This is true for hard cheese such as cheddar, swiss, and parmesan, but not for soft cheese, such as brie and camembert.
8. Applesauce (use up fruit)
Who needs sugary applesauce when you can simply stew sweet apples with cinnamon? It is a great dessert or topping for that healthy French toast you may make. If you have extra berries or peaches, you can try cooking those to make a fruit-based topping that is far healthier than jam or syrup.
Easy Apple Sauce
- 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
In saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar and cinnamon, Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until appleas are soft.
Let cool and mash with a potato masher or forks.
9. Baked Goods (use up bananas or zucchini)
Do you have a friend or neighbor who would enjoy a baked good or two? Banana bread and zucchini bread are two delicious possibilities for using up overripe bananas and abundant zucchini.
Here is a banana bread recipe you can try!
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil*
- ½ cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 ½ medium or 2 large bananas)
- ¼ cup milk of choice or water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
- Optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices…
Time needed: 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Heat Oven to 325 F
Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with your oil choice. Mash bananas in a separate bowl until desired smoothness.
- Mix ingredients
Combine oil and honey, whisk until smooth. Using a spoon, add eggs and mix well. Add mashed bananas, then milk.
- Add dry ingredients
Add baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Stir in flour until combined.
- Pour into pan
You can use a butter knife to make a slice in the top of the loaf!
- Bake for 55-60 minutes
Poke with a toothpick to check. If it comes out clean, the loaf is ready! If it comes out with banana on it, check in another spot to be sure. Let cool 10 minutes
10. Egg Muffins (use up eggs, vegetables, cheese, and ground turkey)
Egg muffins can be made ahead to provide a quick, portable breakfast when you need one. You can use as many eggs or egg whites as you want, plus any other ingredients you may have. Onions, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms are just some possible vegetables. You can also add in cheddar, blue, or other cheese, plus cooked ground turkey or diced chicken.
It’s great that you are dedicated to eating fresh foods, and there is no need to let them go to waste. There are plenty of easy, healthy, and great-tasting ways you can quickly use up fresh foods so you can have plenty of ready-to-eat meals and snacks ahead of you.