If there is one thing we all need to learn and utilize as we go forward into the 2021 New Year, it’s that food is very, very precious. We can not ever throw food away anymore. This is not our mom telling us to eat everything on our plate because the children in China are starving. On the contrary. This is me telling you that it’s American children (and adults) who are starving now. Many Americans used to throw away between 30% – 40% of their food down the toilet, down the garbage disposal or in their trash bin. Folks, we can not do that anymore.

First off, food is both expensive and as the pandemic continues, food can be, at times, sparse. If you must wait on a food line to receive your daily bread, you won’t have much of a choice in planning yours or your family’s meal. Granted many food banks are doing their best to provide people with a well balanced, farm fresh and nutritious array of foods. There will be, however, times when the best many will get is peanut butter and white bread.

What hubby and I have been doing in our own kitchen to combat food waste is we prepare a meal with leftovers in mind. Laboring over a hot stove for hours on end isn’t going to make either one of us happy. We want low cost, healthy meals BUT we want it fast, fresh and without much time spent in either preparation or cooking.

Over the holidays I was gifted a $50 Amazon card and I bought myself a much wanted stainless steel wok(@$39). Most authentic woks come in forged steel or cast iron BUT I wanted a stainless steel model because it is dishwasher safe (hint: less clean-up time spent in the kitchen!) I also did some research on how most plant-based chefs save even more time in the kitchen. They do most of their chopping and food preparation (i.e. batch cooking, click here) for the week either on a Sunday or another set day of the work week. This saves both time and money in the kitchen (less waste).

Here’s my new stainless steel wok. Works great on induction stoves as well as gas. Comes with a glass top and all are dishwasher safe. The pan can go into a 500Fdegree oven. The glass top can only tolerate up to 350F in the oven. Also, can both can go from range top to table top in a nice, presentable way!

Since I’ve switched over to a more plant-based, veggie style of preferred eating, I am painfully aware of how much time and energy it takes to chop, slice, dice and mince all those new vegetables I plan on stir frying every day. I’m now doing what those top notch chefs are doing: setting aside Sunday as my dice and chop day. I wash, prepare and fridge storage bag whatever veggies I think I am going to cook with throughout the upcoming week. That would include onions, carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, romaine lettuce and an occasional pea pod. I also make a big batch of Jasmine white rice. Hubby likes brown rice.

Hubs is not quite up to being a vegetarian, so he prepared a batch of cut up, bite-sized chicken cutlets, marinating them in a souvlaki-style sauce (click here) in a plastic storage bag overnight. The first night he had the chicken with rice. The next day he had the chicken pieces over his salad. Another time I sauteed peppers and onions and he combined the cooked chicken pieces with the vegetables as his meal.

Other money saving leftover ideas:

I had a little bit over a cup of ricotta left over from the Christmas lasagnas we made. I mixed the ricotta with 1/4 cup each of low fat sour creme and fat free plain Greek yogurt, two eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, tablespoon each of vanilla extract and lemon juice. Whirled all in a blender and poured into a pre-fab graham cracker crust and baked at 350F till done: end result was a delicious Italian cheesecake.

Next, I boiled the chicken cutlet breast bones and made a hearty broth. Threw in some carrots, celery and onions for 30 minutes, added a half cup dry pasta and two handfuls of fresh spinach: a hearty chicken noodle soup!

I had some leftover almonds from another holiday recipe and used them to make these mini almond biscotti. Recipe here.

Made open faced sandwiches using toasted Naan bread and loading it up with a smear of home-made hummus, roasted tomatoes and garlic, pickled red onions and sliced European cucumbers. Delish!