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Take a second look at your leftovers. Instead of viewing leftovers as yesterday's scraps, see them in a new light: a prepared ingredient ready to use in today's meals. Once you see the worth and convenience of having these foods available to you, take a second look at your freezer too. Your freezer keeps leftovers "frozen in time" and fresh until you're ready to use them. However, don't wait too long to use those precious leftovers because all frozen food loses taste, texture or color if frozen for extended periods of time.
Here are some great tips on how to eliminate food waste, and how to get the bonus of some quick and easy meals by using leftover foods.
Odds and ends make super soups
A plastic food container or even a zippered food bag should always have a place in your freezer. After every meal, place the teaspoon of corn, 1/4 cup of carrots, half of a baked chicken breast - whatever you have left over - into the container. Gravy from the roast chicken, rice left over from your takeout Chinese dinner, and even that single scoop of mashed potatoes left in the pot are the ingredients for a future minestrone or vegetable soup.
Hint: Chop up all veggies and meats into bite-sized pieces before you freeze them. On soup-making day, dump the container into your crock pot, add some stock if necessary, and without any work at all, dinner is ready in a few hours.
Stale bread can be stupendous
Italian bread salad and bread pudding are two delicious foods that are made with stale bread. Croutons are just squares of stale bread with spices and herbs. Make your own stuffing mix with stale bread, or place stale bread in the bottom of your soup bowl. Fill the bowl with your super soup for a hearty, peasant-style meal.
Hint: It's not magic, but many less-than-fresh breads or rolls can become fresh again. Just sprinkle them with a little bit of water, and place into a brown paper bag. Put your oven on very low, and in five minutes or so, your stale bread is no longer stale anymore.
Beat the fruit flies to the punch
Bananas can be tossed into the freezer as is and eaten as a frozen treat or used to make breads or desserts. Berries freeze well, or you can blend them into a smoothie for a delicious healthy beverage. Apples can be sliced and frozen or cooked into a topping for pork or chicken for another meal. Leftover melons can be blended into a liquid and frozen. Pick a hot night, and scoop some of your frozen melon juice into a glass. Add some seltzer, and you've got a delicious satisfying summer drink.
Hint: Blend any or all of your leftover fruits, and freeze in ice-cube trays. Drop a delicious fruity cube into your ice tea or seltzer, and you'll punch up the flavor of your beverage.
Don't dump those desserts
Stale cake is great when layered in a parfait glass with ice cream or whipped cream. Crumble up those few stale cookies, and sprinkle on the top for a one-of-a-kind parfait. Freeze until you're ready to eat.
Hint: Many cookies, cakes and other desserts can also be frozen. Brownies freeze well as do most cookies.
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