This is a guest post written by Jonathan Bloom who writes the blog Wasted Food and is the author of the book American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and what we can do about it). He lives in Durham, NC with his family and their many, many containers for leftovers.
I don’t know about you, but I love leftovers. I mean really, what’s not to love?
They’re economical, easy and environmentally friendly. That first adjective is pretty self-evident. If you’ve already paid for the food—whether eating in or out—you may as well use it.
As for easy, it doesn’t get much more convenient than taking leftovers for lunch the next day. They’re already packed, after all. (Be sure to pack lunch-sized containers the night before so I don’t look like a liar. Rubbermaid TakeAlongs or Easy Find Lids are a great option.) And if you’ve already put in the effort of deciding what to prepare, getting the ingredients and cooking it, why not put it all to use?
But did you know that using your leftovers is the green thing to do, too? A sizable amount of fossil fuel energy goes into growing, processing, transporting and cooling our food. When we don’t eat it, those resources were used in vain. Also, when food rots in a landfill, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as potent a heat-trapper as CO2.
In the first sentence of the above paragraph, I wrote ‘using’ for a reason. Simply saving your leftovers, only to have them turn odd colors in your fridge doesn’t really help.
If you’re just not a leftover person (and refuse to see the light), it may make sense to prepare less food, maybe halving the recipe. Another idea is to try repurposing your leftovers into a new dish. In so doing, you get to exhibit a little creativity.
There’s a good chance many of you regulars here already love leftovers. Or at least like them. But if you don’t, now may be the time to reconsider—to preserve your money and time and our environment.