Leftovers Do you Eat them or Trash them
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Leftovers: Do you eat them or trash them?


LeftoversIt’s evident that food prices are continuing to rise, and it’s easy to use that as excuse to not eat healthy. Do you know one of the biggest food costs?  Throwing food away! Either we let it go bad without using it soon enough or we throw away excess because we don’t like leftovers or don’t know how to transform leftovers from the night before into something new that will be appealing. 

It’s crazy to think that food is the second largest component in the solid waste stream after paper and paperboard. Once those two things are removed for recycling, food ends up being the largest component in landfills weighing in at 33 million tons in 2010 according to the Environmental Protection Agency. According to researchers, an average family of four spends $500-$2000 a year on food they never eat.

One of the biggest factors that contributes to food waste is overbuying. Many people go into the grocery store without a well researched shopping list. This often leads to impulse buying and overbuying. Think about meat, for example.  You may buy it when it’s on sale, but then it sits in your freezer if you don’t use it within 6 months it really should be thrown away (food safety) or it gets freezer burned and you want to throw it away anyway.

Another factor that contributes to food waste is fear of food borne illness and confusion about sell by dates. An expiration date means don’t eat it after that date, but a sell by date is just when it should be sold by and you can eat it well past this date, depending on the type of food it is (milk or yogurt can be eaten a week past a sell by date, for example). 

Use those leftovers!  Here are a few quick and easy ways that you can transform your leftovers into a new meal! 

  • Add a poached egg on the top of rice or mix hard boiled eggs in with rice
  • Turn stale bread into bread pudding
  • Make leftover meatloaf into shepherds pie
  • Use leftover ham in omelets for breakfast the next morning
  • Make roasted chicken into chicken salad with apples and walnuts for lunch the next day
  • Use leftover beans to make a hearty chili
  • Throw leftover hamburger or chicken on top of some chips with cheese, salsa, and guacamole to make nachos
  • Use leftover hamburgers for a tomato meat sauce to use on spaghetti the next day 


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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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