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Reducing Food Waste & Transforming Leftovers

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

According to World Economic Forum, 931 tons of food goes to waste. Whether it’s due to sitting in your fridge untouched or your leftovers from a week ago it makes an impact on your stomach and your wallet. I recently had the opportunity to go to a dietetic conference and listen to an amazing speaker by the name of Breana Killeen, I see her as if the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond and Joanna Gaines morphed into one. She had some amazing tips when it comes to cooking and how to reduce waste, time, and effort in the kitchen. She is a senior editor of Food and Wine Magazine, and fun fact has a gazillion chickens. I’ve been inspired by her and her lifestyle ever since I sat in on the session she spoke at and want to emphasize some of the easiest tips she taught us.

 Bland Up Your Weekly Meal Plan

You might be wondering, that doesn’t sound like a great week of meals. But I promise it will all make sense. Breana made a point of saying to ditch the well-thought-out meal plan. Thinking to myself when she said that, I was like, what’s the point then?  By making it bland, meaning don’t tell us what kind of pasta you’re going to make on Tuesday, just cook pasta with the ingredients you have.  She used the example of having tomato paste that lasts forever (especially in the tube), heavy cream, garlic, herbs and spices, and look at that you’ve got: a beautiful pasta dish that is waiting to be devoured.  The same goes for any other night whether it’s salad, chicken, ground beef whatever it is getting inventive in the kitchen and just giving yourself the confidence to widen your range that can go for miles.  

Batch Cooking

Picture this, there are two of you, and you want to make a batch of chili but that will create so many leftovers that you can barely get through it in time before it goes bad. Breana mentioned an idea called souper cubes. Souper cubes are an ice cube tray for your leftover soup. Fill each of the silicone compartments and freeze. Once ready to use pop out one of your frozen soup cubes, heat and serve. Following in this same line of freezing food, she had this genius idea to freeze heavy cream, especially into ice molds that were one cup size. Not only are you saving money but when you need it, just pull it out of the freezer and it’s ready to go.  

Reviving Leftovers

I used to dread the stacks of containers that would sit in our fridge feeling like they were just sitting there going to waste in about a week. With Breana’s mentality, I am now trying to revive my leftovers by giving them what we can call multiple lives. I love to marinate chicken, throw it on our Traeger and use it for multiple things. Sometimes pitas, salads, sandwiches or wraps.  Same with pasta salads that I make I try to do a small side of that along with something I have sitting in my freezer, literally anything from a piece of fish to a frozen chicken burger that I can jazz up with veggies. Making the most out of what you have in your fridge and freezer is so important. But it’s how you use it and make it tasty again without the same meal it originated from.

Cooking has always been a passion of mine. Now that I live with my fiancé, I have the best taste tester around. We need to be able to utilize our kitchen and stretch our dollars as far as possible. There is always a hack for saving money, time and energy when it comes to cooking. It’s all about tailoring your kitchen to your strengths so that meals can be a win for you every time.  

My name is Katelyn Richardson. I am 29 years old. I am currently attending Central Washington University studying for my Master's in food and sciences to become a nutritionist and later a diabetes educator for kids. I've been personally battling type 1 diabetes since I was six years old. I love being outside, vintage shopping, watching movies, and going to stock car races! I love being a Her Campus Contributor because it gives me a platform to talk about current issues, topics I'm passionate about & real-life relatable experiences.