May 4, 2020

According to the United Nations World Food Program, it’s only a matter of time until a hunger pandemic strikes, too. The main culprit? Our unending contribution to food waste. Surprisingly, global hunger isn’t just because we lack food but also because we waste too much of it.

While the quarantine is in effect, one’s instinct is to buy things in bulk to avoid going out and possibly contracting the virus. That, and it’s also hard to determine the exact amount of food to prepare for the entire family, hence the pile of leftovers tossed at the back of the fridge. 

There are various ways to store raw and fresh produce properly and make them last longer, but what if they’re already prepared? Cooked food spoils easily unless you store it in the fridge. (Note: Before you put your leftovers in the fridge, make sure that it’s already cooled down. Placing it in low temperature while it’s still warm can lead to spoilage and foodborne illnesses.) But even then, in three to five days they’ll start smelling bad and you’ll have to throw them away.

So if you have leftovers, don’t throw them away just yet. You can reheat and consume them the next day. Or even better: Turn them into another meal.


Homemade rice balls. Photo courtesy of takedahrs from Pixabay 

If you’ve made fried rice too many times already, then try doing your own version of onigiri or Japanese rice balls. While these are usually made from sushi rice, leftover home-cooked rice could work, too.

All you have to do is toss the rice into a bowl, add some soy sauce, salt and pepper, mix well, and mold them into balls. You can also add a filling of your choice (cheese, cubed meat, sausage, etc.). To give your onigiri a twist, cover them in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs before deep frying.


Homemade patties. Photo courtesy of skyradar from Pixabay 

Made too much chicken or beef stew last night? If you think leftover stew doesn’t leave you with much of a choice but to reheat them the next day, then you’re wrong. You can make burgers out of them the next morning (the stew actually packs extra flavor). You just have to drain the meat before mincing them. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper, pour some lightly beaten egg to bind the ingredients, then mix. You can either fry them or put them in the microwave.


Vegetable omelette. Photo courtesy of mhburton from Pixabay 

Last night’s veggies can make an easy breakfast staple: vegetable omelette. Or if you have extra carrots, broccoli and other greens, toss them in a salad. Any veggie could also work as fritters. Here’s all you need: cooked vegetables, salt and pepper, herbs and spices like basil, garlic or ginger, cheese (optional), flour and egg. Mix all ingredients in a bowl before frying or baking.


Homemade fish balls coated in breadcrumbs. Photo courtesy of userbit from Pixabay 

Don’t worry about having leftover fish when you can just prepare homemade fish balls out of it. All you need to do is mix minced fish and mashed potatoes before molding them into circles, covering them in beaten eggs and a mix of flour (or breadcrumbs), salt and pepper.


Leftover bread. Photo courtesy of Dovile Ramoskaite on Unsplash

Most of the hacks mentioned above require flour or breadcrumbs. So when you have a lot of bread that’s nearing its expiration date, try making breadcrumbs. Break the bread into tiny pieces, put them in a tray, then leave them out in the sun until dry. Once dry, crush them to fine crumbs. Not only can it save leftover bread from molding, it can also save you a trip to the store.

Using leftovers for your next meal doesn’t only prevent food waste, it stretches your food budget as well. So make a conscious effort to frequently check the fridge. You might have some leftovers from two days ago waiting to be turned into another meal or two.


Header photo courtesy Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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Read more:

The Philippine Harvest goes online, delivers local food products to your doorstep

Grow your own food—if not from seeds then from scraps

Tips and tricks on how to make your food last longer during the quarantine

TAGS: bread fish food food waste leftovers meat rice vegetables