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25 September 2017Last updated
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Got leftovers? Here’s what to do with them

Friday’s readers share their tips for reducing food waste

Friday readers
7 Jul 2017 | 10:09 am
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Leftover bread is always sad waste of food therefore before it gets stale, I put it in the fridge and grind some of it in breadcrumbs, which I use in my gratin once a week. I also leftover bread in cubes for croutons and oven toast them with some butter and thyme. I freeze them and remove a big handful of them whenever I am making soup or salad. Finally, I sometimes make pudding out of leftover bread by slow-cooking bread with milk, custard, sugar, vanilla essence and almond. The whole family just adore my bread pudding. I suggest that each family makes it a must to sit and discuss once a week how to reuse food and other things in the house so as to reduce wastage and pollution. We can donate to poor people and we can produce compost out of perishable food from the kitchen. – Preety Parahoo

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Most of the time, I am left with white rice, which I quickly turn into delicious lemon rice.

A tip to deal with leftover rice is to sprinkle some water and heat it, stirring continuously.

To make lemon rice, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add handful of peanuts and fry for a few minutes. Now add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bengal gram, green chilies and curry leaves.

After they start crackling, add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. Now, add the leftover rice that is already heated, lemon juice (3 lemons for 2 cups of rice) and stir well.

It’s now time to serve it in your plate and relish the dish! – Lakshmi Anuradha

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However mcuh we try to make for the right amount, there are days when I have leftovers. I never throw them. I remember my mum making us realise the necessity and importance of food during my childhood. She says it’s God’s gift.

What I do usually is to refrigerate the leftovers and use them the next day. At times, I knead leftover vegetables to make parathas. I don’t remember having wasted food – thanks to my mum for that. – Sheena Jishu Thomas

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Our family is very careful when it comes to putting waste food to use. I think we use waste bread better than any other food item. We fry bread crusts, which are not soft enough to use in a sandwich, with our breakfast omelettes, making a kind of coating of fried egg on them to make them taste good and soft. The leftover desi breads like roti and naan are what we tear into little pieces to serve to our bird buddies that have now started to arrive on our windows and gallery regularly. – Aalimah Ahmed

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The day’s leftover food is summed up to a small complete meal, packaged and happily given to the building security guard on night duty. Additionally, I give excess portions at times to the local visiting laundry man. – Nina Misquitta Lohale

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A few ideas:

Use leftover meat and vegetables to make croquettes, fillings for puffs and fritters or as filling for a roulade.

Use leftover stewed meat as a filling for pies using store-bought puff pastry

Use leftover vegetables to make frittatas (Italian omelette) for breakfast

Mix chopped leftover meat with sufficient Bearnaise sauce and use as a filing for omelettes, crepes of baked potatoes.

Use leftover cooked meat on a pizza or sliced, in a meat salad.

Meat fritters

Serves 4
500g cooked meat, cut into 30 x 10 mm strips
5ml prepared mustard
Cooking oil for shallow-frying
Batter:
250ml all-purpose flour
5ml baking powder
1ml salt
1 banana, peeled and mashed
2 eggs, beaten
100ml milk

First, prepare the batter: Sift dry ingredients together. Mix banana, eggs and milk and beat into dry ingredients. To prepare meat, spread each strip with mustard and dip into batter. Shallow-fry until golden brown, drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.

Breakfast muffins

200g cooked beef, minced or coarsely chopped
500ml all-purpose flour
10ml baking powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
2ml salt
4 eggs, beaten
300ml milk
250ml grated Cheddar cheese
50ml chopped fresh parsley
2 courgettes, grated

Sift flour, baking powder, pepper and salt together. Mix remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix lightly but thoroughly. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling them two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.

Tip: Bake tiny muffins and serve them as a snack. – Deona Tait

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Every one of us eats rice. But I have seen people throwing leftover meals, especially rice – they simply discard it. Please don’t waste the food. Rice is multipurpose meal and you can make so many new recipes with leftover rice, like curd rice or lemon rice or even you can mix in some gram flour and spices with rice and make tasty cutlets called bhajiya. – Seema Ismail

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Leftover food challenges arise as it is difficult to cook portions that exactly match consumption. Too small quantities fall embarrassingly short at the table especially when there are guests, while too much ends up in the fridge to be dished out as leftovers and when that gets unbearable, makes its way to the bin. Back home in India, this was never a major problem as there were several avenues for distribution – one of which was giving it to cleaners who welcomed it. Here we do not have those avenues. And overeating is a big no-no!

I discovered during a recent holiday to Japan that meal portions were typically small but there was a variety. So the solution to this conundrum perhaps lies in cooking in small quantities but offering a variety that satiates the six tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. This is bound to ensure that if food is leftover, it will be kept to the minimum if not totally eliminated, without the peril of overeating. – Jaya Mahalingam

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My family and I have reduced food wastage to a minimal level. If the food is half-cooked to save the nutrients, then we make sure that we finish the food that day itself. But if we are sure that the leftover food will stay safe to eat for some time, then we make sure to store it properly after it is completely cooled. We never refrigerate foods that are reheated once. And we always cook only what is required. Don’t waste food! Not only because there are many who don’t have enough food to eat, but also because it contributes to increased CO2 levels. – Sudharani Ramineni

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I usually throw leftover food into garbage. Not only me, the people around me also do the same. It is actually contagious. You are affected by your surroundings. Your deeds are reflective to others. I advise that leftover food should be recycled – leftover pulses or rice could be reused in making cutlets. Leftover chapatis could be used to make pizza by topping them with vegetables. – Vagisha Barwal

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Leftover white rice can be made into a vegetable pulao or egg-fried rice. Leftover chapatis or rotis, bread and idlis can be broken into very small pieces, and after tempering with mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions, tomatoes and salt for taste, can be made into a delicious upma, garnished with coriander leaves. Leftover dal curry can be mixed in wheat flour to make nutritious rotis. Leftover cooked chicken and mutton can be minced or shredded and added to boiled potatoes to make delicious kababs. Leftover curd can be used for marinating chicken and mutton. – Girija Menon

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Your question reminded me of my mother (who now lives in my heart), who was the queen of recycling leftovers as my dad would refuse to eat the same dish again.

Some ideas to share:

Soup with leftover food: Wash off the masalas, chop tomatoes, some greens, crush few cloves of garlic and add salt and spice to taste. Boil in pressure cooker, strain, serve with a little bit of squeezed lemon and coriander or a crushed lemon leaf.

Vegetable kebabs: Take dry-cooked vegetables (with no gravy or cream). Boil a potato or two, add some bread crumbs and one or two eggs. Add salt, green chilli and chaat masala to taste. Mix it all. Make patties and shallow-fry. Serve hot with chutney and a cup of tea!

Balls with leftover rice: Greens of any sort: coriander, spinach, chives etc. One egg or two, binding with roasted chickpea flour, salt, lemon juice and zest to taste and some oil. Mix it and make balls and fry gently or bake. Serve hot with soup.

Keep up with your efforts at community building. – Sarah Dayal

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Friday readers

Friday readers