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5 tips for avoiding food waste plus what to do with stale cookies

By Julie Norman

I know I blog about food waste often, but let's face it: FOOD is something we all buy.  It's something we all use and something we all waste.  You know how it have good intentions of using up that kale, but then it just doesn't happen.  So here are some things that I did this weekend and 5 tips for avoiding food waste.

This weekend I needed to use up some peanut butter cookies.  We'd been eating on them for almost 2 weeks (friends were supposed to come to town but cancelled, so that's how we ended up with excess cookies).  What do you do with old cookies? I was determined not to throw them out.  Instead, I pulled the ice cream maker out of the cabinet (thank you Cuisinart for awesome little electric ice cream makers!) and mixed up a batch of maple vanilla ice cream. When it was ready I beat up the cookies into bits and stirred them in. It's SO GOOD!  The ice cream recipe is included at the bottom of this post.

Also this weekend I found a great way to use up some freezer burned old hot dog buns that I found in the freezer: croutons! I chopped them into pieces, added olive oil and garlic powder, and baked them for 10 minutes at 450. Perfect salad toppings!

Here are 5 other ways you can avoid food waste.

1. Freeze it. I've frozen raw bell pepper, leftover red beans and rice, sauerkraut, all sorts of sauces, ginger root (peel it and then grate it from frozen when you need it).  You can freeze lots of things.

2. Take the leftovers for lunch. Leftovers are our lunches 75% of the time. Unless we've had really smelly fish, we create lunches from our leftovers.  Sometimes we end up with odd lunches like a bunless brat and a side of strawberries, but we don't end up with wasted food.

3. Repurpose it.  If I've got leftover rice from a Mexican night I make an Asian fried rice dish.  If I've got extra grilled veggies I might make a frittata or a vegetarian fajita.  You can throw all sorts of vegetables into soups and in fact I have one friend whose mom will take bits of leftovers - green beans, okra, corn - and freeze them just to use in soups!

4. Take it to work. If you know you aren't going to finish that cake or those cookies, take them to work. People will eat them, I promise!

5. Keep an eye on what's in your fridge at all times and make a list.  Right now I have a list that says, "Things to use next week: bacon, Thai red curry paste (which actually I can freeze), and there's something else on this list..."

Can you, right now, name 5 items in your fridge that need to get used up? Here goes: 2 leftover grilled brats, 1 serving baked beans, some anchovies in olive oil, sauerkraut, and cauliflower. The cauliflower is a dinner side dish tonight.

Here's the ice cream recipe:

3 cups milk

1 cup white sugar or 1/2 cup maple syrup

1-2 tsp vanilla

Whisk until the suger or syrup is combined well with the milk - 3 minutes or so. Then pour into your running ice cream maker. Wait 15 minutes. Enjoy! Oh, stir in cookies if you want!