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Living More Sustainably: Making the Most of Leftovers

With a little creativity in the kitchen, one of the simplest ways a person can start reducing food waste is through better utilizing leftovers. People often reheat meals left after going out to eat or from earlier in the week, but what if you could do more? Consider items that end up being thrown out if they do not heat up well, or last remnants of foods left in packages. Many of these can be utilized in making other meals, such as using leftover pasta to make Mac and Cheese. This dish not only utilizes noodles that may not heat up well, but also remaining cheese pieces and stale bread.

A simple recipe is to heat the oven to 350 degrees. While it is warming, break up stale bread pieces on a baking sheet. Cover them with some olive oil and seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs). Place the baking sheet in the oven, and start a sauce through whisking together melted butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk in pan. Once it starts to boil, add cheese and mix until combined. To make it extra creamy, cream cheese can also be added (a great way to utilize the end of a package) to the mixture before pouring in the cooked noodles (noodles that are pre-sauced can be rinsed and used). Transfer the mixture to an oven safe dish, and remove the bread crumbs from the oven. Top the mac and cheese with additional shredded cheese (or ripped up remaining cheese pieces from a package) and the freshly made bread crumbs before placing it in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

Many foods are more versatile than people realize, and often times can even be added to meals we are already planning. Leftover meats and vegetables are great in quesadillas, pizzas, or soups. Fruit juices can be utilized in sauces or marinades, and baked potatoes can be made into gnocchi. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination. So, next time you are thinking of throwing out those leftovers, consider that it could be made into something better than it even was to begin with.

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