Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Use it Up!

Apparently Australians throw away about 4.45 million tonnes of food each year.

I'm afraid I am very guilty of this food waste sin.  There's always something slimy and scary at the bottom of my fridge.  I'm better since I started menu planning but I still do waste food.  I'm also very lazy and loathe fridge cleaning, so often I'll have something bad in the fridge and I'll know it but I won't do anything about it!  My sister NutriNic once saw a punnet of mouldy strawberries in my fridge and told me I'd better remove it.  "I will" I said "in good time, I'm too lazy to do it now."  But here's something I didn't know.  Those mouldy strawberries were spreading their mouldy spores to my other fruit and veg and making everything else in the fridge go bad more quickly.  Am I dim or what?!
Well I want to change.

We had friends staying with us for a week recently and one night I came home and my friend had taken some veggies from the fridge and lined them up on the bench and said "We need to make something with these ingredients today!" Now that is how you do it.  I need to take a lesson.  I need to use up the things in my fridge before they go bad and before I go get more.  I need to get a bit creative.

So I've had a think about some recipes that I do that can use up those last veggies.  Recipes that don't require special ingredients just any leftover veg and the usual pantry stuff.  I'm going to try and have one of these on my menu plan at the end of each week.  I'm going to get better at using stuff up.  If you've got any recipes you use to use up your leftovers or tips on using it up, I'd love to read about them.

Using Up the Last Veggies - Meal Ideas
Eggy Veggie Pie
1.  Veggie Pancakes
One of my Little Monkeys' favourite meals.  Simply make a pancake batter, grate up your veggies and mix it through.  For firm vegetables like potato I'll cook them up a bit first before mixing them through.  Fry the pancakes slowly in a little oil.
2.  Soup
Minestrone's my current favourite although the little monkeys prefer blended soups so you can't see the veggies.   I like to add 1/2 cup of lentils or beans of some sort to my soups to make them more nutritious and filling.  Monkey Man reckons soup isn't a real meal and he requires lots of bread with his to feel satisfied.
3.  Eggy Veggie Pie 
Chop up all your veggies into bite size pieces.  Mix about 6 eggs with a splash of cream or milk and a tbs of flour.  Pour into a greased pie dish.  Top with cheese and bake until firm.
4.  Polenta Pie
Cook some polenta.  Chop up the veggies and stir it through the cooked polenta.  Spread it into a greased pie dish and bake in the oven.  This is also good with cheese.
5.  Fried Rice
This is Monkey Man's favourite meal and one of the few things I trust him to cook! (I'm afraid I rarely relinquish control in the kitchen).  Since I got a rice cooker, fried rice is an easy, no fuss dinner to make.

What are your suggestions?
There's currently a campaign by Do Something to help us tackle this food waste issue. There's some good information on their website here.
Also, fellow blogger Enchanted Moments has just cleaned out her pantry and used up stuff from it.  Have a read about it.


  1. Hi there,
    Ive just done the same...pantry wise...took it all out, used and baked what I had to ..nuts, dried fruit, pasta etc...didnt take long and now I know its all good in there....
    Next stop is the freezer....mmmm I wonder what gourmet delights are frost bitten in there???

  2. I just put a link up to your post today on my post on using up food...hope that is cool with you.x

  3. I have got into the habit of making a big batch of soup, using up all the older vegetables on the day I do the weekly shopping. I also made some little cotton bags and the veggies seem to keep better in them than in plastic.

  4. I make fritattas alot, very similar to your eggy pie thing really. If there are wilty vegetables hanging around I make stock out of them, not mouldy obviously, but anything limp goes straight in and then I give the cooked veges to the chooks afterwards.

    I don't waste anything because of the chooks and the compost heap, almost nothing goes in the actual bin in my house.

  5. Enchanted Moments, I've read your post and have made a link on mine too. A couple of weeks ago I also took the plunge and cleaned up my pantry and used stuff up. Must be the post XMas excesses prompting us! Nothing better than pasta with three different sorts of pasta - did the same and my monkeys loved it.
    Africanaussie I've been thinking for weeks that I must make some really lightweight cotton bags. I didn't know that veggies keep longer in them bonus. You've prodded me to do it while I'm still on holidays.
    Greenfumb I have my doubts about the figure to be honest. I actually don't know anyone who doesn't compost (am I living a sheltered life?) but apparently part of the research into the waste was investigating people's bins!

  6. I love soup, so when I found something in my fridge, I make a nice soup.

  7. Hi Veggiegobbler I think the figure could easily be right, I know loads of people here in Sydney who wouldn't dream of eating leftovers and don't have compost heaps or chickens.
    Also my daughter used to work in a well known bakery chain, they threw everything that was left over in the bin each night - bags and bags and bags of perfectly good food. She used to bring it home and I took it to work the next day, all the teachers were thrilled to have such a great free morning tea.

  8. I used to be like you too, bought a lot veggies then forget all about them in the fridge until they turn bad. But now, before I buy new ones, I will check and use up whatever veggies in there to make a big pot of soup! I like your eggy veggie pie cos' I love eggs, might try it! Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  9. I whole-heartedly agree with using up what is in the fridge. My best recipes have come from lean financial times when I was forced to be creative with what I had in my garden or in the refrigerator. It is a great time for soups and pasta toppings!

  10. Great idea! I and my wife always try to use up but we are looking for more good recipes. Your recipes will help us enjoying cooking! Especially, your pie is new to us!

  11. Great post Veggiegobbler! More people ought to work harder at learning how to use "odds and ends" and even leftovers. One of my favourite dishes is Bubble and Squeak, made with leftover potatoes and green veg (preferably Brussels sprouts!). This is sublime with cold meat and chutney.

  12. That bakery could try what our Woolworths does. They have a triple bottom line, which includes people and the environment. Food that is still good, but no longer saleable gets passed on to various charities. They do not waste food that can still be eaten. There are hungry people in South Africa.
    We shop for two weeks, so our compost gets some contributions ;>)

  13. Your post is great it is a reminder of how much food does go to waste in this lucky country.

    I always use every little bit of food i buy I very rarely waste anything. A whats in the cupboard/fridge soup is on our menu every week along with quiche made from left overs, or frittata. All good ways of using left overs. Another rule too is never buy more before using what you have. If you usually shop on a friday, next week shop one day later and the next week one day later again and after 7 weeks you will have saved one weeks housekeeping money. It has always worked for me. Happy cooking/shopping x jeanette

  14. I have very little waste from my fridge since I changed how I store everything. I use the crisper drawers for jars and condiments and all fruit and vege gets stored individually in containers on shelves. This keeps things easily accessible and you can always see what you've got. Vege Pasta bake is my kids favourite for using up odds and ends.


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