Leftovers often go uneaten, gathering mold in the darkened recesses of the fridge and wasting the money spent on them. Billions of dollars go to waste every year on edible food that’s been thrown away, so eating leftovers will save money.
Food waste boggles the mind
Americans waste a lot of food, though they aren’t alone in the habit. According to the Christian Science Monitor, an estimated 34 million tons of food winds up in landfills every year and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates a full third of all food goes to waste.
Further estimates are that 25 percent of all food in America is tossed out. This results in the typical American family pitching $500 to $2,000 into the trash every year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Assuming annual waste of $1,000, that adds up to almost $83.50 per month.
Given the sheer volume of wasted food, there is no excuse for anyone going hungry. There also isn’t much excuse for overlooking leftovers, which some people have an aversion to.
Putting leftovers to use
According to the Wall Street Journal, an estimated 25 percent of food that goes unused are vegetables. People should always try to eat more vegetables anyhow, and there are some tricks to put them to use.
For instance, a common trick is to combine leftovers in a dish such as a soup or casserole, which humans have been doing for millennia. Vegetables that haven’t gone bad but are languishing unused take only a couple minutes to chop and drop into broth with spices, creating an easy soup in minutes. Add beans and pasta and that’s minestrone.
Have some leftover chicken? Hack it into pieces and add it to a pot with some chicken stock and sliced-up leftover veggies. Add uncooked rice, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes and that’s a fried rice-esque casserole.
Same goes for pasta. Simply combine leftover ingredients in the pan, add herbs, spices, tomato sauce and combine with cooked and drained pasta.
Sell-by, Schmell by
The “sell by” date on items such as milk or eggs does not, according to Time magazine, mean that it’s no longer safe to eat. It only means that it’s not as fresh as most would like it. Milk keeps flavor for five or more days after the “sell-by” date and even if it does slightly sour, it isn’t toxic. The “sour” flavor comes from harmless bacteria. Eggs keep their freshness for weeks after the sell-by date.
Unfortunately, this is an area where marketing and superstition triumphs over science. 76 percent of the American public believes food goes bad on the expiration date despite both the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture maintaining food past the expiration date is fine, so long as it has been refrigerated properly, according to the Boston Globe.
Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2011/04/13/what_exactly_does_an_expiration_date_mean_food_lasts_longer_than_the_tossers_think/?page=full