I don't know about you but after I have had fruits and veggies for a week they no longer seem appetizing to eat but I struggle with throwing away food.
I cook or freeze any leftover groceries from the previous week. This week I have leftover petite carrots, broccoli, bean salad, chopped cabbage, Pico de Gallo, cooked rice and six boneless skinless chicken thighs. This week's "repurposed meals" were easy. I made Garlic Chicken and Vegetables and a Southwest Chicken and Rice Skillet. My leftover fruits get frozen and thrown into a smoothie on another day.
Garlic Chicken and Vegetables
- Heat chicken stock and garlic in a large skillet. Add small pieces of raw chicken that has been season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile steam broccoli and carrots.
- Add chopped cabbage and vegetables to the skillet.
- Combine 2 tablespoons of chicken stock or water with 2 tablespoons of corn starch.
- Add to skillet and stir; cook until thickened; about to minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If sauce is too thick add additional chicken stock.
Southwest Chicken and Rice Skillet
- Cut chicken into small pieces and toss with salt, pepper and chipotle seasoning (taco seasoning works also).
- Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces. Once cooked add Pico de Gallo, bean salad and rice. Cook until heated throughout.
After I was done making both meals I cooled and refrigerated them. We will eat the Garlic Chicken and Vegetables over rice. It made enough for 2 meals so I if we get sick of it I will freeze the leftovers within 4 days.
The Southwest Chicken and Rice Skillet tastes great hot or cold. I will reheat it in a steam basket for one meal and toss it with cheese and make quesadillas or enchiladas for another meal. Once again I am not sure if we will want to eat this twice this week or if I will freeze it for a "freezer fall back meal". Either way I win.
Saved, money and time and best of all I did not waste food. When we have so much it is easy to forget that most of the world is starving and would love to eat the food we throw away. So next time before you go to the grocery store shop at home and be creative. You have nothing to lose.
Foods get a second life once you cook them. If you thaw to much meat or unexpectedly ate out don't waste the food cook it and give it 4-7 more days to be eaten. Or freeze it and give it 3-6 months.
Planning and Prepping Made Simple
The secret to ‘a FAST” weekly meal is planning ahead. Have you ever went to a restaurant and ordered an entrée and magically it appears before you in less than 15 minutes. Prepping and planning ahead is what chefs do every day to insure their restaurant runs smoothly and efficiently.
· SELECT the menu for the week. Align you menu choice with you weekly schedule. On your busiest nights choose the simplest recipes, freezer meals, crock pot meals or soup – salad combos. On days you have more time chose more in-depth recipes and roast.
· CREATE a shopping list based on the recipes.
· DOUBLE ANY RECIPE that can be made ahead and frozen.
· DEVELOP A RECIPE BOX OF EXPRESS MEALS. Keep weekly plans and shopping list that you like in a weekly recipe box. Next time you want to repeat the plan it with be ready to go.
· SHOP AND CHOP items that can be made ahead such as clean and chop vegetables and fruit, prepare marinades and dressings.
PLAN 2 SHOP
· Shop the perimeter of the store for real food.
· Less is more. Package foods with less ingredients tend to be less processed and contain less additives.
· Unpackaged foods such as fruits and vegetables are good for you and the environment.
· Choose real foods. Real foods are foods found in nature that can be gathered, picked, hunted or fished.
· Choose good fats –nuts, avocado, cold pressed olive oil, flax seed oil, wild fatty fish such a salmon.
· Choose colorful carbs; such as fruit and vegetables.
· Choose a variety of whole grains-organic oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, barley.
· Choose a variety of proteins-meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, nut butters and beans (beans must be served with whole grains to make a complete protein).
· Read labels and avoid: high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, enriched flour, partially hydrogenated oils, margarine and MSG.
· Every 4 grams of sugar is approximately one packet of sugar.
· Try something new each week such as almond butter instead of peanut butter.
· Introduce you family to a new fruit or vegetable each week.
· Nuts and trail mixes make a great substitution for snack foods such as chips, candy and other processed foods.
· Choose only foods that contain ingredients that you recognize and can find in your cupboards or refrigerator.
· Eliminate ALL artificial sweeteners from your diets, try Stevia as it is the only safe non caloric sweetener, don’t be afraid to use a dab of REAL food to sweeten your food or beverage; honey, maple syrup or palm sugar to name a few.
· Make sure the foods that you choose will spoil or have an expiration date. Foods that last forever are not good choices.