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3 Tips to Avoid Leftover Ingredients

3 Tips to Avoid Leftover Ingredients

Avoid having odds and ends of ingredients in your kitchen and pantry from a one-time recipe with these tricks.
By Jules Clancy


Have you ever gotten frustrated when recipes call for using small amounts of perishable ingredients? You know the type of recipes I mean. They leave you with half a bunch of parsley, a few tablespoons of goat cheese or half an avocado…

Apart from being annoying, these leftover bits tend to end up getting wasted as they hide in the fridge.

If you’ve been wondering how you can reduce leftover ingredients and waste in your kitchen, here are my 3 favorite tricks.

1. Skip ‘Leftover’ Ingredients

My first port of call is to avoid leftover ingredients all together. Often the easiest way is to just skip the ingredient and substitute for something you already have or use often.

If skipping it isn’t an option, I look to use up all of the ingredient at once. So I’d use the whole bunch of herbs instead of the half bunch called for in the recipe. You get the idea.

2. Store the Leftovers Correctly

The general rule of thumb is that cooler temperatures are best for most fresh ingredients. Therefore, keep them in the fridge for starters. After temperature, moisture loss is the next biggest destroyer of fresh ingredients, so make sure they’re protected. You could store your produce in plastic bags in the crisper section, or even freeze for a later date depending on the item.

The real trick is to keep them somewhere you’re likely notice and remember to use them again.

3. Try Some ‘mise en place’

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“Mise en place” is a French term that roughly translates as “put in place.” It’s used to describe the practice of chefs preparing food up to a point where it is ready to be used in a dish during food service.

It may be as simple as washing and picking herbs into individual leaves or chopping vegetables. Or it could be more complicated like caramelizing onions, cooking dried beans or slow cooking meats.

If you know you aren’t going to be able to use an ingredient, there’s always a way to treat it so it will last.

For example, a half bunch of basil can be turned into a pesto. Or if you don’t have much time, just pop the leaves in a jar and cover with olive oil for a quick basil oil that will last for weeks rather than days.

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