,September 21, 2021
Image: Daria Shevtsova | Pexels
Welcome to Quick Kitchen with Lee Holmes, where we make cooking easier for you and your family. On today’s menu: repurposing leftover food for a zero-waste kitchen!
Does this sound familiar?
Sunday: This week, I’ll finally eat healthily! I’ve just done a grocery shop so I’ll make delicious and nourishing dinners every night with fresh produce, create vegetable-filled lunches every day, and I know that I’ll feel amazing, have so much energy and, suddenly, my skin and life will be problem-free.
Ideal you on a Monday evening: I’ve just come across a recipe for Immune-boosting Frittata in EatWell magazine issue 31, I’ll make that with dinner and then make tea-poached chicken with green beans from the same issue for tomorrow’s lunch.
Real you on a Monday evening: It’s 8pm. You’re tidying up the dinner you made and the last thing you feel like doing is making a whole dish for lunch tomorrow.
Tuesday night: Takeaways it is.
Do you have good intentions to cook and use all of the food you buy in a week, then find it’s Friday night and you’ve had takeaway every night that week? If so, you’re not alone. But let’s get one thing straight: cooking, eating healthily and not wasting produce doesn’t have to be complicated, time-wasting or expensive.
Let’s go through some tips to understand how to use and store leftovers.
- Plan your meals. I know it may sound a little dull or like it takes effort, but think about what you want to eat at the start of the week. Then think about how you can use those leftovers. It’s a time and budget saver in the long run. For example, if you prepare double the vegetables you need for dinner, you’ll then be able to eat them for lunch the next day or cook them in a soup another night.
- Store food in clear glass containers. Using a glass storage container makes it easier to see what’s inside, so you’ll be more likely to use the food you already have.
- If you’re freezing foods, use a ziplock bag and put the date on a piece of tape so you know when it was made.
- Before you serve dinner, put some away in a container for lunch the next day. We often just eat what’s in front of us, so if you put some away beforehand you’re more likely to be left with enough food for leftovers.
Here are my favourite ways to repurpose your foods.
Instead of throwing away perfect vegetable scraps like the ends of onions or a tomato core, stow them away for delicious homemade vegetable stock. Keep a stock container in the freezer and add to it whenever you cook something new to use in future recipes.
Soup is an excellent way to use up leftover vegetables. Whether you have leftover carrot, potato, tomato or greens, throw them all into your next soup.
If you’re looking for soup-er inspiration, I’ve got lots of recipes on my blog. There is soup for just about every occasion.
Baked vegetable bowl
While this one sounds a little fancy, it’s just a bowl filled with deliciously nourishing ingredients you have lying around. These flawless bowls are bouncing with whatever vegetables you have left over, any protein you like, grains, greens, nuts and seeds. Everything and anything goes.
If you’ve roasted an entire chicken, turkey, pork, lamb or fish and have too much left over, why not cook it into a warming broth?
Whenever I have leftover chicken, I’ll throw it into my slow cooker with celery, carrots and spices to make a gut-healing broth.
Depending on the week, I’ll either portion it out into containers and keep it in the freezer or just store it away in the fridge and drink it as is.
Why not turn your leftover eggplant, wrap, sliced sweet potato or mushroom top into a pizza base?
I love spreading tomato sauce over any of these vegetables, adding leftover veg, some cheese and protein and baking it in the oven for 10–12 minutes.
Whenever I make a stir-fry for dinner, I always tell myself to do it more often because it’s just so quick and easy. Making a stir-fry with leftovers is one of the simplest things you can do and is perfect for lazier nights.
If you’re wondering about the cheat’s quick and easy version, all you need to do is sauté whatever protein you have, leftover vegetables, ginger and spices in a pan with tamari, serve it with rice or quinoa and you’re ready for a delicious meal in less than 30 minutes.
My favourite smoothies always happen when I just randomly throw fruit, leafy greens or chia seeds with water or milk into the blender and watch a smoothie swirl to life.
To make a delicious homemade wrap, use either a leftover wrap, nori or lettuce leaf and fill it with leftover veggies, protein and a homemade sauce.
Stop throwing good ripe bananas in the bin! Ripe bananas are ideal for banana bread, and banana bread is ideal for everyone. When my bananas start to brown, I’ll use them in banana bread or peel and store in a glass container in the freezer to use for future banana bread or banana-based smoothies.
Do you know what I love about pesto? You can make it with literally any dark green vegetable or herb you have: coriander, kale, basil or mint. Just blend up your herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and some salt and pepper. I use pesto as a dip or add it to my pasta, salad or protein of choice.
Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato with Basil Pesto & Chopped Salad
- 1 sweet potato, halved lengthwise
- 2 tbsp olive oil + extra for dressing salad (or use olive oil spray)
- Pinch sea salt
- Basil Pesto (makes 1 jar)
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice + a small bit of zest
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ tsp Celtic sea salt
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped Salad
- 2 cups leafy greens
- 1 cucumber, cubed
- Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 baby capsicum (optional), chopped into cubes
- Handful seeds (pepitas or sunflower seeds)
- Preheat oven to 185ºC.
- Place sweet potato on the baking tray, drizzle or spray with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place in the oven for 45 mins or until tender.
- Halfway through cooking, use a fork to make grooves along the sweet potato.
- To make the basil pesto, place basil in a food processor and process.
- Add nuts, garlic, lemon and nutritional yeast flakes and salt and pulse.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil until consistency is as you like it. Add more olive oil if necessary.
- Place leafy greens in a bowl and add remaining salad ingredients, sprinkle with seeds and add a drizzle of olive oil and lemon if preferred.
- Serve together and store the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Lee Holmes is a nutritionist, yoga and meditation teacher, wholefoods chef, Lifestyle Food Channel’s Healthy Eating Expert, blogger and author of the best-selling books Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, Heal your Gut, Eat Right for Your Shape and Supercharged Food for Kids.
Lee’s food philosophy is all about S.O.L.E. food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Her main goal is to alter the perception that cooking fresh, wholesome, nutrient-rich meals is difficult, complicated and time-consuming. From posting recipes, her passion to share her autoimmune disease story and help others has snowballed and the blog has recently taken home the overall prize at the Bupa Health Influencer Awards as well as the best blog in the Healthy Eating category. She also runs a four-week online Heal Your Gut program.
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