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[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] O[/dropcap]n the weekend I had a few ‘guilty’ fridge moments. You know the feeling. When you have a little ‘clean out’ which basically involves just tossing all the things that are now mouldy or otherwise inedible.
While I’m happy this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often, somehow over the holidays I managed to let standards slip around here. And I’m embarrassed to say I threw out quite a bit of food.
And the thing that really irks me?
It could have all been avoided.
You could say I had a massive case of ‘should have known better’. Ouch!
On a brighter note, I do have some exciting news to share with you today.
But before we get to that, I wanted to share the 3 simple steps I should have taken to avoid my needless waste. I hope it helps both of us avoid that sinking feeling from now on!
3 Steps to Avoiding Wasted Ingredients
Step 1. Rotate
This is subtle but can really make all the difference. The idea is when you put new items into the fridge, you try and position them at the back and bring the older items to the front.
I’m usually pretty good at doing this with my fresh produce. I have a larger and a smaller drawer in my crisper so before I put away my market purchases each week, I transfer the older produce to the smaller drawer and put the new into the larger. Then I make the effort to look in the small one first.
The second part of this concept is to rotate leftovers. Bring the older ones to the front and put newer ones to the back. Turns out I’m not so brilliant at this, especially over Christmas when leftovers were at an all time high.
Step 2. Really look each day
It’s funny how we can open the fridge door but not really ‘see’ what’s in there. While step 1 helps to make the looking part easier, it’s still important to have a good look each day.
Again I was a little slack with this when I was on holiday mode.
I find asking yourself ‘what needs eating up here?’ can help identify and avoid unnecessary waste.
3. Take action as needed
This is the ‘business’ end of the process. It’s one thing to know you have some chicken breast that is close to its use buy date. But unless you make a plan to cook said chicken or pop it in the freezer, it won’t be saved from the waste bin.
The three most common ways I tend to take action here are to:
1. Eat it
2. Cook it
3. Freeze it.
Not exactly rocket science, but easy to forget. The power to avoid waste is within you!
And if you need more specific tips, see the recipe below for details on how to avoid waste for each ingredient.
And what about this something NEW?
Then check out my new FREE 5-day training!
It’s my simple 3-step process for meal planning.
In short daily bites.
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Have fun in the kitchen!
Quick Warm Chicken & Parmesan Salad
I love a warm salad for a quick, healthy mid week dinner. There’s something about having something proteiny and warm that makes it feel substantial enough for a dinner. Yet all those leaves keep it light. And best of all they tend to work all year round so well worth adding to your repertoire!
Enough for 2
450g (1lb) chicken thigh fillets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 handfuls rocket (arugula) or salad leaves, washed & dried
2 handfuls parmesan shavings
1. Heat your frying pan on a very high heat. Trim any fat from the chicken and slice into super fine strips. Drizzle with a little oil and season.
2. Cook chicken in the hot pan for about 1 minute. Then stir and keep cooking till browned on all sides.
3. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Season.
4. When the chicken is cooked transfer to the lemon dressing.
5. Toss in rocket leaves. Serve with parmesan shaved over.
vegetarian – replace chicken with field mushrooms or eggplant slices. Cook in a little oil until soft.
vegan – skip the chicken and cheese. Warm some cooked lentils in a pan and toss in the dressing with the leaves. Add some roasted almonds for a little extra protein and crunch.
dairy-free – replace the parmesan with roasted sliced almonds. Or cook some bacon in the pan before cooking the chicken. And serve the crunchy bacon on top of the salad.
little person friendly – reduce the amount of rocket (arugula) or replace with less bitter tasting leaves such as butter lettuce or baby spinach.
different protein – lovely with steak or lamb fillets instead of the chicken. Also good with chorizo.
different leaves – any salad leaf will work well here. In the winter I’d go for red radicchio leaves or witlof (belgian endive).
WASTE AVOIDANCE STRATEGY
With my new meal planning service, I’ll be including this section with each recipe. So if something happens and you don’t make a particular meal in a given week, the ingredients won’t go to waste!
chicken – freeze or cook (either pan fry or gently simmer for 15-20 minutes). Frozen chicken will last for months. Cooked chicken will last for up to a week.
lemon – will keep in the fridge for weeks.
rocket (arugula) or salad leaves – the best option is to use in another recipe. Rocket can be used to make pesto which will keep for a few weeks (just use it instead of basil). The alternative is to wilt down the leaves in a pan with a little oil. Keep wilted leaves in a covered container in the fridge for a few weeks. Warm and serve the wilted leaves as a side.
parmesan shavings – keep wrapped in baking or parchment or waxed paper inside a plastic bag or sealed container. Will keep for months.
Two more waste avoidance tips from me: have a really small fridge, so stuff doesn’t get lost in it, and avoid the supermarket and do little, fresh food shops every few days buying just what you need for the next meal or two. Food may be slightly more expensive at the greengrocers and the butchers, but you don’t waste nearly as much.
Great idea Linda!
do you remember the old fairy tale about ‘stone soup’?
Sure do Corene!
Haha! Awesome timing :) – I just blogged about using up leftovers from the fridge. Soup is another great way to use up random bits and pieces as there’s limitless combinations! – mine was leftover roast chicken, a lone sweet potato, the end of a pack of celery and some frozen sweetcorn.
I’ve had a lot less waste since doing your 2 minute meal plan class. I’m no longer bound by what the recipe says & am flexible to use what needs using. Great system!
Nice one Nic!
Lovely to hear from you