When Using Up Leftovers Is a Waste of Resources

banan flower

Banana Flower

Tesyaa left this comment on Why You Should Eat Everything on Your Plate:

Another thing about waste – quite often I’ve tried to avoid waste by making, say, a banana bread with overripe bananas, or using up rice in some other type of dish. Those items use energy to cook, and use other ingredients. If there is no real need for banana bread, making it to use up old bananas just wastes oil, eggs, sugar, & flour.

To me, avoiding foood “waste” is only helpful if it frees up other food items. If not, it’s not doing anyone any good.

I’m not sure what you mean when you write “there is no real need for banana bread.” If your family will eat the banana bread instead of something else you were planning to cook, bake or buy, I don’t see the problem. If it means they will eat the banana bread in addition to what you usually serve, i.e. unneeded calories, I see your point.

I think it all comes down to an ability to regulate our appetite and not overeat. If finishing the last bite on your plate, means you will eat less at the next meal, that’s fine. But if it means adding calories you don’t need over the course of the day, cut down serving portions until you find the smallest amount that satisfies you.

If you don’t need or want banana bread, put the soft bananas in the freezer for when you do, or make smoothies. If you know you won’t use them, I give you permission to throw them out!

It’s the same with the rice. Rice is easy to add to soup or a main course, which becomes part of the next meal. You’ve already paid for the rice so why not use it up? I’m not sure I understand why you would use rice in something you are not going to eat. Are you saying it’s more efficient to serve it on the side at the next meal? If so, I agree. But it doesn’t take much extra energy to add the rice to a casserole instead.

Avoiding food waste is an art and each family will have its own approach. If you have no use for soft bananas, only buy as many as you’ll eat in a short time (hint: they keep longer in the refrigerator). When cooking, be realistic about leftovers and plan accordingly. Sometimes the dish we make with leftovers is successful and sometimes not. With time and practice we can all make improvements.

Here are some recipes you shouldn’t make with leftovers. (Hat tip: Yonit)

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Adventures in Holiday Leftovers

My Mother’s Re-Recycled Meat Soup

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  1. I’m with you, Hannah. If I’ve cooked too much, the leftovers will go in the refrigerator, and may be used for tomorrow’s lunch for me (I work from home), or used in another meal. Rice, potatoes, veggies etc., are very versatile.

    As for bananas, my Wife is allergic, and I only like bananas as they come, not mashed, used in banana-flavored dishes, or otherwise mangled! If they’re soft, unfortunately, they get thrown away.

    My mother used to like mashed banana (with a sprinkle of sugar) sandwiches – yuk!

    • Graham, thanks so much for visiting and sharing. My mother made lots of banana bread. Banana is an unusual allergy, tha’s why babies start with it!

  2. Thanks for the post! I think we are on the same page. I agree that regulating appetite and, for me at least, more judicious purchasing of perishables is key.

  3. Her Mom used to try to make her eat banana during her childhood. Then felt really guilty when it turned out that she was allergic. She’s also allergic to squash (zucchini, etc.).

  4. I freeze overripe bananas and make banana muffins. Also smoothies (with yoghurt). Last passover, when I was cleaning out my fridge I found 17 frozen bananas!
    When I cut cabbage I save the hard heart and freeze it. I then use it when I make soup (adds flavor). If tomatos go bad, I freeze them as well and make tomato sauce with them. Many things freeze well.

  5. My dad used to take the chicken from Shabbat and turn it into soup for Sunday night, then add rice to the leftover soup to make rice monday night, then add hot dogs to the rice on tuesday night, then… well, you get the point. It felt like we never ate anything but Shabbat leftovers the whole week.

    In my house, we’ll make something new, and just use the tiny bit of leftovers as a side dish or a snack instead of trying to turn it into the basis for a meal. It may be less frugal, but it also makes me not groan when I get to the table.

  6. I found out the hard way that bananas stored in the freezer until you are ready to use them don’t fair well in a power outage. I wound up with several baggies of brown, watery, mushy goo 😛 ick.

    I’ve also given up on storing leftover bread for bread pudding since no one here eats it. Maybe best to put out for the birds?

  7. I feel awful throwing out anything vaguely edible, so I’m on an ongoing quest to master the art of using up all our leftovers. Having said that, I do sometimes have Tesyaa’s problem, e.g. making banana bread and then we eat that for breakfast instead of something healthier. (Hey, anyone have a healthy recipe for banana bread?)

  8. Try this for a healthier version of banana bread. I hate throwing food out and believe the key is menu planning before shopping, buying less and not making too much so that there are a lot of leftovers. http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/banana-bread.php

  9. Thrifty soul says

    I can’t keep a cabbage heart – hubby likes to chomp them raw!

  10. No need to make new dishes you don’t want. Old bananas are fine cooked in oatmeal. Bits of rice in vegetable soup.