Get Ruthless with Leftovers

Written by Sylvia Geiger MS, RD, CD, Price Chopper Community Nutritionist

I cringe if I hear “Ew that’s disgusting!” as someone rifles through our fridge and comes across a leftover container that’s been hidden from view. It’s not often, but I’ll admit, occasionally it happens. And I bet you’ve experienced it too. The decision to throw food away is a hard one to make. It’s wasteful and expensive—who can afford that these days?  Obviously the best strategy is to only buy and make what you plan on eating within the week. However, if you’ve miscalculated, deal with it right away, before the food has a chance to spoil. Wrap up the excess and freeze it; don’t forget to label and date the container so you know what it is later.

When do you pitch food that been in the fridge for a while? The decision to toss is pretty clear-cut if it smells bad and looks icky-gross. But the “sniff test” alone isn’t reliable.  Many foods that should be chucked don’t have an off odor and some may not even look questionable.   A general rule of thumb is that most prepared foods (and leftovers), opened deli meats, prepared salads and hot or cold entrees have a 3-4 days shelf life in a refrigerator kept at 40 F.  Remember, refrigeration only slows bacterial growth it doesn’t prevent it, and some bacteria such as listeria thrive in a cold fridge.

Make room for the holidays and get ruthless with your fridge, “When in doubt, throw it out!”  Who wants to be sick over the holidays? Use the Price Chopper pamphlet Safely Storing Food as a guide for safe food storage.  Storage Guide Brochure Inside   Storage Guide Brochure Outside

Option 2

The Secret Sauce… 

Now that you’ve pitched all the questionable foods, you still might have a collection of condiments & sauces taking up too much space. Provided they are still safe, (check Safely Storing Food guide) get creative and use them in unconventional ways.  I find that emptying ketchup, mustards, BBQ, Sweet & Sour, Spaghetti or other jars of savory/sweet sauces into homemade soups or sauces for meat casseroles to be very tasty.  It’s my “secret sauce ” that’s different every time I make it.

Do you have leftover veggies or meat?  Slice them up and make a stew, soup or casserole.

Do you have multiple half filled containers of ice cream in your freezer?  If so, it’s time for an Ice Cream Bomb! Take all of the ice cream out of the freezer to soften, line a bowl with plastic wrap, and start layering the soften ice cream into it.  Between the different flavor layers you can spread nuts, jam, jelly or ice cream toppings. I’ve even crumbled slightly stale cookies between the layers. Once you’re done, put it back in the freezer.  To remove the ice cream bomb from the bowl, put the bowl in hot water for a few minutes, the outside will soften enough so that you can pull on the plastic wrap and remove the ice cream.  Then turn the ice cream bomb upside down on a plate and decorate with a little whipped cream or serve as is.

Simple Recipes to Use Up Fridge Content

 & This Weeks Sale Items

Slow Cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna

White Bean & Chicken Chili

Green Chili Stew

Maple BBQ Chicken

Orange Stir Fry

Beefy Rice Skillet

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash & Kale

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