Attn: Panic Shoppers - Zero Waste Tips for ALL. THAT. FOOD.

On March 13th, I received a call from my sister, who urged me to buy toilet paper stat. I'm guilty of going overboard. Now I have enough toilet paper to cushion me against a parachute fail.

Unlike toilet paper, which lasts forever, those who purchased too many groceries are having to toss out expired food. In a world where we are all striving to be more sustainable, it can be guilt-inducing. Especially when we hear stories of food scarcity due to the pandemic. Below are some tips to help you use up every last morsel of your bounty.

  • Stale Tortilla Chips - Nothing works better as a bottom layer of a casserole. It soaks up juices while keeping its crunch and has a salty finish. Especially delicious on anything Mexican-themed or cheesy. Also, if you bake a tray of nachos, no one will know that the chips were ever stale!
  • Garlic - Are green sprouts bursting though? Plant these individual cloves in full sun (preferably a sandy, loamy soil), and each clove will produce an entire bulb! When the leaves start to whither and turn yellow, it's time to harvest.
  • Stale Potato Chips - I mean, I would eat these anyway, but if you're fancy, crumble them until they're fine and use as a substitute for breadcrumbs. Or use as a crispy top layer of a casserole. I like to saute them in Texas Pete Hot Sauce and make a toasty top layer of buffalo chicken dip. 
  • Wilting salad spinach - If they are getting droopy, saute them with garlic and olive oil in a pan. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Stale bread - Cube and bake into breadcrumbs. Have fun with seasonings. You can make cumin jalapeno croutons for Mexican salads, or a garlicky Parmesan batch for Caesar salads.
  • Fruit - Bananas turning black and strawberries getting mushy? Wash, peel and chop into cubes for a smoothie. Toss them into the freezer for later.
  • Wilting herbs - Fresh herbs at the grocery store don't come cheap. Wash them well, and spread them out on a towel in a sunny spot of your home.  Once dried, they can be stored and used like the dried spices in your collection. Only they'll be packing much more flavor.
  • Meat expiring - If your freezer has no room and you don't want to eat it at the moment, make jerky!
  • Vegetables - Chances are, you can find a good soup recipe for what you've got. Pull out your stock pot and get creative. One of the best things about soup is the way it freezes. Save up for a cold, rainy day by pouring into gallon freezer bags. Lay them flat in the freezer and they stack like playing cards - and the airtight nature of it keeps them relatively safe from freezer burn. 

    Remember, if it's too late for some of your bounty, you have options. Rotten produce can be composted, and moldy bread is still a treat for birds. Get outside, enjoy the sun and feed it to the ducks at your local park. I hope these tips make a little difference, and this shared experience that much easier. 

    Stay safe, my friends. 

    Turn leftovers into REINVENTIONS

    pierogies pierogi recipe

    When my mother cooked for the five of us, she made enough for an army and we never ceased to tease her about it. But she was smart. Leftovers saved her time, and provided a guarantee that no guest left hungry. And we weren't kidding anyone; every morsel was gobbled up. 

    Side note: I rolled out some dough, and Abraham Lincoln appeared, per below. 

    As we all adjust to the new normal, many of us find ourselves in the kitchen more than usual. The results have been tantalizing on social media, and it's a shame we can't score invites. When life does pick back up again, how nice would it be to have homemade goodies stashed in the freezer for a later time?

    Some of you may not have a deep freezer or a vacuum sealer. Some of you may not have room in you freezer as it is. But you know the one thing everyone does have? Leftovers.

    The Italians have made a cozy home for their chopped up leftovers, with frittatas. I like making tacos from leftovers, even cheesy casseroles. But when I found myself with leftover pierogi dough, I thought, why not make inventive pierogies? Here's a recipe for the dough.

    Rule #1: Make sure your filling stands on its own. Make it zesty, because if it's bland, the outer shell will only dull the flavor.

    Rule #2: Be sure the filling packs together, so not to break apart the dumpling while boiling. 

    Rule #3: Regardless of fillings, be sure to follow the pierogi recipe as far as the dough and cooking instructions.

    Rule #4: Have fun!

    My leftover chicken needing sprucing before stuffing into the pierogi, so I tossed it into the food processor with kimchi. After boiling and draining the pierogis, I pan-seared them in sesame oil and soy sauce, so they were crispy and caramelized. Another recipe included roast beef, which I shredded and mixed with cilantro, caramelized onions and white pepper. The possibilities are endless, especially when you consider dipping sauces.

    So go ahead and cook too much - great things will come of it.