According to Wikpedia, “Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” So then wouldn’t it be awesome upcycling to never throw even one piece of food away? Or at least to greatly reduce the amount of food that might ever hit our waste? An exciting challenge would be to master the art of “upcycled meals” by either composting (which would be the equivalent of taking our “useless” materials and “creating higher environmental value” with them through the fertilization of our gardens. Right? So then how do we go about upcycling our food?
What I propose is that we use all left overs to either consume as lunches or snacks – or perhaps we can re-create the ingredients into a whole new meal (i.e. converting waste into products of higher quality). By adapting this concept into our daily lives, we would then never ever toss out one piece of food. Our gardens would flourish from natural compost and our husbands will smile at the sight of beef-pot-pie for breakfast and vegetable pasta for lunch the next day. Sure seems like a win-win to me!
So in order to not just “let” this happen (or not), but rather to make this happen we need a plan! Every action must have a good solid plan for success! Using those random leftovers that are getting lost in the inner-depths of our refrigerator (1/4 Cup of cottage cheese, a few bites of wild rice, half of a grilled chicken breast etc) can make things a little easier allowing you some extra time on a hectic evening or saving a few dollars a week at the grocery.
The first step for our plan of action is to purchase staples that are pretty basic in that they will work well with a variety of food. Don’t forget to label things, use your freezer and check expiration dates as you consider your plan of action.
-whole wheat flour
-tomato sauce or diced tomoato
-flavored vinegars and cooking wine
–whole grains (quinoa and wild rice)
-whole wheat pasta
Once you have a pantry full (or cupboard full in our little bungalow – wish we had a pantry) of staples such as these items or others that you and your family love, you can throw just about anything together to make a fabulous “re-invented” meal in minutes.
Here are some ideas for you whether they are planned out or simply on-the-fly!
1. Leftover meats can be sauteed with vegetables and served over left over pasta or rice or as a tortilla
2. Leftover beans and veggies can be tossed into a stock-pot with vegetable juice and barley for a tasty soup
3. Leftover Beef Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots – upcycled into beef pot-pie
4. Grilled chicken breast can be served on top of fresh dark leafy-greens for a nutritious and delicious salad with your remaining cottage cheese
These are just a few of the ways that we can take a few remaining ingredients from one night and turn them into a new and tasty dish on another – without wasting a thing! Eliminating or reducing waste whenever possible can make a big impact in the overall scheme of the things. It just might make your crazy busy week-nights a little less hectic as well. You can always plan an “Upcycled Friday” by saving what you have made through the week (as long as it stays fresh) and enjoy the start of your weekend by clearning out the fridge, less kitchen mess to clean up and the great feeling of NOT HAVING TO COOK – as well as helping reduce waste!
So go on now – get that pantry stocked with some healthy staples so your relaxing Upcycled Fridays can begin!
Written By: Lynn Stone, smilinggreenmom.com
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