One of the biggest advantages of working from home is that you get healthier and cheaper meals. You can cook your own food instead of ordering in from fast food restaurants, after all.
However, an accompanying disadvantage is that you actually have to go out and buy your own ingredients from time to time. This can present quite a challenge in times of, say, a nationwide quarantine (or when you’re simply too tired or tamad to head out).
Fresh produce is usually preferable, yes, but sometimes, we need to make do with what’s on hand. Also, wasting food is a no-no in the Philippines. (Well, it should be everywhere else, really.) With so many people these days struggling to get by, that’s practically a criminal offense.
On the other hand, some of us probably have quite a few handfuls of produce quickly wilting away in our chillers. That’s the thing about fresh fruits and vegetables, you see. They don’t stay that way for long.
Still, with a few clever tricks, those wilting perishables don’t have to go to waste. In some cases, you could even repurpose them and come up with a tasty treat:
1. Use overripe bananas to make muffins.
Got more overripe bananas than you care to eat? Turn them into muffins instead!
The sweet, mushy fruits are perfect for baking, and you only need a couple to make five or six incredibly moist muffins. These last 1 or 2 days at room temperature, or up to months if you freeze them in a ziplock bag.
Intrigued? Try this recipe.
2. Alternatively, freeze them to make a healthier, dairy-free soft-serve.
Are you and/or your kids lactose intolerant? Frozen bananas are a great alternative to ice cream.
Simply peel your bananas, slice them into chunks, and stick them in the freezer. After an hour or so, take them out and process them in a blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy on its own or add your favorite mix-ins. A spoonful of peanut butter, some chocolate chips, and a handful of frozen berries are all great additions.
3. Convert vegetable scraps into crispy fritters.
If you’ve got a motley of veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, or potatoes, why not turn them into fritters?
All you need are eggs and flour, your chopped veggies, and some oil for deep-frying. Mix the veggies with a beaten egg and enough flour to make a thick batter, and then fry up the fritters in batches.
While you’re at it, you can make a creamy dip out of ketchup and mayonnaise or some plain yogurt, lemon juice, and chopped garlic to go with these.
4. Got inedible veggie odds and ends? Turn them into yummy broth.
On the other hand, if you’ve got inedible stuff like vegetables cores, peels, or herb stalks, you can still put them to good use. Dump then in a pot with or without a couple of meat bones. Add in a handful of salt and a fistful of peppercorns, and then pour in enough water to cover.
Next, place the pot on top of the stove and bring to a boil. Leave to simmer for an hour, and then strain.
Voilá! You’ve just made vegetable broth. Now, you can either use this immediately in a stew or freeze it in batches for future use (e.g., cooking rice in it or flavoring sauces with it).
5. Make jam out of mushy fruit.
Except for bananas, you can make jam out of pretty much anything. All you need is lemon juice and sugar. Here’s a good recipe, which you can adjust by using a 3:1 ratio for fruits and sugar.
6. Cook wrinkly tomatoes down into homemade sauce.
Same principle as the jam in the previous item, really. You can have pasta sauce from scratch in ten minutes by slowly sautéing sliced or whole cherry tomatoes in some olive oil and garlic. Stir occasionally, and season with salt, pepper, and some chopped garlic.
If you’ve got some fresh or dried herbs, you can add them in too.
7. Upgrade your instant noodles with leftover vegetables.
Sick of eating the same old instant noodles for merienda? Jazz things up a bit by adding chopped vegetables while cooking. A few chunks of leftover chicken or ham can also elevate your meal into something heartier.
8. Convert drying limes into margarita-friendly ice cubes.
Put the limes in the microwave for a few seconds before juicing for maximum yield. Squeeze the juice into a pitcher or any cup with a spout, and then pour into an ice cube tray.
Freeze the juice until it turns solid and use the resulting ice cubes to add zest to your glass of water or soda. Or start a margarita with them if you’re having an especially rough day.
9. Pickle your leftover crunchy vegetables.
Red onions are particularly great for pickling. Plus, you only need a few ingredients and they’re probably in your pantry already. Do remember to sterilize the jar you’ll be using before hand by dunking it in some boiling water.
Here’s a recipe for pickled red onions to get you started.
10. Slice up an old lemon to clean your microwave with ease.
Because if we’re being honest, your microwave has been taking a beating recently, right? Luckily, there’s a quick fix for that:
Got your own tips and tricks for recycling or extending the life of your produce? Feel free to share it with everyone in the comments below!