As a serial overzealous grocery shopper, I tend to go overboard when I buy food. I see a multicolored bell pepper that is just so cool and then I find a $13 bag of granola that is totally necessary because it must be ~incredible~ if it costs that much. The result: my groceries frequently begin to go bad before I have the chance to eat them all.
The thought of wasting precious food kills me inside, and this conundrum has led me to come up with some creative ways to salvage my about-to-expire food.
Cucumbers are one of those foods that I buy and say to myself, “I’ll eat these for every snack – it’ll be gone in a day.” And then I cut it into slices and I’m like, “Woah, this is a lot of cucumber. Where did this all come from?” I can never seem to finish a whole one before it starts to get kind of mushy. Enter pickling.
You can get really fancy with pickling, but I generally just combine white vinegar, honey, garlic, chili flakes, salt, and a bit of water in a jar and add cucumber spears. Throw it in the fridge and they’ll be good for an extra month.
There’s nothing worse than slimy spinach or stanky arugula. Obviously, when lettuces and greens start to resemble baby food, it’s time to throw them away. But when they’re just a little bit past their prime, you can toss them in a food processor with cheese, olive oil, and a nut or seed of your choice. You’ll have impressive homemade pesto in minutes. Who doesn’t love pesto?
Potatoes, Parsnips, Celeriac
When I look in my pantry and realize that I have three celeriac roots, a couple parsnips, and a potato on the verge of sprouting, I reach for a cutting board and preheat my oven. Chips made from root vegetables like parsnips and celeriac are surprisingly delicious (and healthy!), and are an easy way to use up a huge amount of food.
All it takes to make chips is to thinly slice vegetables, sprinkle oil and seasoning, and then bake them until they look crunchy. Aside from burning your veggie chips, it’s pretty hard to mess up.
#SpoonTip: Salt, pepper, and paprika taste heavenly on celeriac chips.
Carrots, Onions, Celery, Garlic, Mushrooms
If you’re really at a loss for what to do with random about-to-expire vegetables, broth is a good catch-all solution. To make broth, cook whatever vegetables you want to include with some olive oil until they’re a bit soft. Next, simmer them in water with salt and pepper for about 45 minutes, strain the vegetables out, and your leftover liquid is your broth.
While it may still feel like you’re wasting food by throwing out the cooked veggies, you’re saving all of their flavor to use later, so it’s hardly a waste. You can use the broth as a base for soups, pastas, and other one-pot meals.