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Don’t throw that away! Get creative with leftovers

Are you looking forward to the holidays? Imagine the lovely aromas of the meals we grew up with and creating memories with loved ones. However, we end up with a fridge full of leftovers that we tire of eating. It is estimated that 40% of the food grown, processed, and transported in the U.S. will never be eaten. Nearly one-third of the food waste happens because we buy and make more than we serve and eat. Many of you are probably familiar with taking those leftovers of turkey and re-making it into Turkey Soup, Turkey Tetrazzini, or Turkey Potpies. But, the holidays are not the only time we should be smart about using up our leftovers. Here are a few ways for creating a purpose for those leftovers.

When planning your meals and grocery shopping for the week, think what those “extras” can become. Anticipate using the extra vegetables from tonight’s dish in a soup later in the week, or using the leftover side of brown rice in a casserole. By thinking of your leftovers as “ingredients”, it creates endless possibilities.

Once you have those leftovers, be sure you do not forget about them. Store them in clear containers so you are less likely to lose track of those leftovers to the back of the fridge. Include a dedicated leftovers night in your meal-plan to “eat down the fridge”. Plan a “kitchen sink” meal where you use various leftovers to create a salad, grain-bowl, burrito, or soup.

Where do I find inspiration for re-making my leftovers into new and exciting dishes? Chatting with family and friends is a great way to get new ideas. The internet has a wealth of recipes and blogs that get my creative juices flowing. If you are one of those cooks who follows a recipe to the letter, it is time to roll the dice and improvise. Experimenting in the kitchen can be fruitful and fun!

We know the healthy choice is not always the easiest choice, but small changes can make a big difference. Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Dietitian, Carey Skelton RDN is available for nutrition education through SNAP-ed programs. The SNAP-ed programs are FREE for those who receive or qualify for SNAP benefits. We want to help you save time, save money, and eat healthy! Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Senior Nutrition Program also provides nutritious meals through Home Delivered Meals and the Dining Out Program throughout the county. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Please remember to contribute toward your OFAS nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable without the support of participant and community contributions. Be aware that SNAP benefits can be used toward your contribution. Call NY Connects at 716-453-4582 for more details and information about any of these Nutrition and Wellness programs provided by Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services.

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