Dairy-Inspired Kitchen Tips to Cut Back on Food Waste
Think of leftovers as an ingredient for future meals, and the versatility and flexibility of dairy products can contribute to the creative transformation of leftovers into a creative new meal idea. Save these kitchen tips for the next time you want to get creative.
- Consider how extra ingredients from one meal could be used for a second meal later in the week.
- Shred extra meat and add barbeque sauce, cheese and serve on a bun for a tasty sandwich.
- Add vegetables to casseroles, pasta dishes or soup, such as our Soup-er Creamy Vegetable Soup!
- Blend extra fruit with milk and yogurt to make a smoothie, such as this refreshing Blues Buster Smoothie, or other frozen treats like these Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Squares.
- Use leftover vegetables in egg dishes and top with your favorite shredded cheese. You can even modify our Power-Up Muffin Cups recipe to include vegetables you have on hand.
Make Once, Use Twice
There are several things you can do ahead of time to save time later in the week. Here are a few kitchen tips:
- Prepare common ingredients in extra quantities for future meals. Tonight’s roasted chicken is tomorrow’s pizza, cheesy pita or chicken salad sandwich.
- Soups, stews, casseroles and lasagna all freeze well. Portion leftovers and freeze for a quick future meal. Be sure to label them with the name of the food and packing date.
- For large recipes, freeze extra unbaked servings in a separate container. For a future meal, simply defrost and bake.
Planned Overs Safety
Use refrigerated planned overs within a few days. Freeze to stretch out use to a few months. Refrigerate to 40 F as soon as possible or within 2 hours of serving.1 Do not rely on senses to determine if leftovers are safe. Use a food thermometer. When reheating leftovers, make sure they reach an internal temperature of 165 F as measured with a food thermometer.1 Reheat liquids by bringing them to a rolling boil.
Track Your Food Waste
Another great way to cut back on food waste, including your favorite dairy products, is to first learn about how much food you currently waste. Do this by keeping track of all the foods you throw away for one week. Write down every piece of food, including milk, cheese and yogurt, you discard and at the end of the week, look at the list and determine what you can do to cut back. For example, if you threw out several containers of yogurt, consider buying smaller quantities or freezing them in the future. Or, if you are unable to use an entire gallon of milk before it spoils, consider buying a half gallon container, instead.
Kitchen Tips to Put Your Food Waste to Work
While there are many things consumers can do to reduce food waste, it cannot be completely eliminated. Using food waste, such as scraps, excess food and peels, for composting can help create nutrient-rich soil and reduce the environmental impact from food in landfills.2 Learn more about the benefits of composting and tips for getting started at the EPA website and End Food Waste Now website. You can also take compost materials to a local composter, if available. Find out if there is a composter in your community by visiting findacomposter.com or checking out this map of composters.
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. “Danger Zone” (40 °F – 140 °F). http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/danger-zone-40-f-140-f/ct_index. Accessed June 6, 2016.
- Henneman A. 14 Ways Consumers Can Reduce Food Waste. University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension. 2015. http://food.unl.edu/14-ways-consumers-can-reduce-food-waste. Accessed June 6, 2016.