I have been finding ways to intentionally apply minimalism to every aspect of my life, including my eating habits. While this has significantly reduced my food waste (no more drawer of good intentions), I am still usually left with a few scraps at the end of the week. It’s just part of life with lots of fresh ingredients and without an extremely strict plan to use it. I refuse to just waste it or risk it going bad before use, though, so here are a few ways I make sure I use up everything each week.
I have yet to find a vegetable that doesn’t go well with some lentils and spices! I keep some red lentils on hand at all times, and when I have a lot of vegetables at the end of the week (especially soup-y vegetables like carrots and celery), I’ll dice them up and make them into a thick soup with lentils, salt, pepper, and a seasoning blend. If I have leftover yogurt or sour cream, this is a great recipe to use that up with too! Just put a dollop on top to transition from a vegan meal to a creamy soup.
I really, really love smoothie bowls. While they aren’t as portable as a normal smoothie, I like being able to add things like shredded coconut or peanut butter without clogging up my straw. It also tends to satiate me more, because it feels more like I’m actually eating something as opposed to just slurping it down. This is how I use up any leftover spinach, as well as any fruits that are starting to get questionable but I don’t want to freeze. I stock up on frozen fruit when it’s on clearance, so I usually have at least 3-4 types of fruit in my freezer that serve as staples (most often strawberries, bananas, and a stone fruit). This can also be a fun way to use pantry snacks that are almost stale, like chocolate chips or dried fruit. It doesn’t have to be Insta-worthy to be delicious!
One of the produce boxes I’ve tried put out a seasonal vegetable frittata, reminding me what a great way it is to use up produce! I usually base mine off of Kitchn’s recipe and ratio, throwing in bacon if it’s in the fridge but more often using only veggies and some cheese. Dice them up, sauté them in an oven-safe skillet (preferably cast iron), pour the egg and milk mixture over them and bake it up for a great reheat-able breakfast or snack. If you’re not interested in this more hands-on recipe, scrambling up the veggies with some eggs can be a quicker (if slightly less satisfying) way to use them up.
Upgrade your mac and cheese with an at-home version, and add in the leftover produce! My favorites to add are mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and squashes, but it works pretty well for every vegetable I’ve tried other than carrots. Cook the pasta as directed, then as it’s straining sauté the vegetables in the same pot. Once the vegetables are cooked to the desired tenderness, add cheese and some milk or heavy cream and stir until a thick sauce forms. Then re-introduce the pasta, stirring thoroughly over low heat until everything is well combined. This dish is great on its own, or as a filling side to a small serving of protein.
When in doubt, freeze for later
If none of these is appealing or you don’t have the time and ingredients, just freeze for later. Most produce freezes pretty well when done correctly. I usually dice and pack fruit in freezer-safe containers before freezing them, which is simple enough, but some vegetables are better if they’re blanched first. Google the specific fruit or vegetable if you aren’t sure to make sure you’ll get the best flavor possible!
Do you have a favorite way to use up produce scraps? What are some of your go-to ways to use up scraps at the end of each week?