Right now there is a large (I suspect expired) container of Fage yogurt, six deteriorating asparagus spears and one semi-soft red pepper in my refrigerator that are all approximately 24-hours away from the trash can.
And I feel terrible about it.
While my parents weren’t the type to demand I finish my plate because “children are starving in Africa,” and I regularly dismissed my plain, well-done hamburgers after a bite or two as a child, today, I’ve become somewhat paranoid about wasting food. Part of it stems from the satisfaction I get when emptying out my refrigerator and finding a place for every broccoli floret, shallot and garlic clove, but part of it also stems from my increased awareness of just how much food costs.
Plus, I feel like if I use it all, I can justify spending $3.99/lb on asparagus or $2.99/lb on sweet and tart Pink Lady apples (the best varietal aside from the Honeycrisp).
As a result, I’ve started to get in the habit of actually using up ingredients I buy for some of my “one-off” recipes like the corn soup and white bean bruschetta I made for dinner two weeks ago. The effort reaped a considerable amount of leftovers that included extra husked corn kernels, tomatoes, white beans, basil, and roasted red pepper, and I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing all or any of them go to waste.
Using some roasted shallots, whole wheat orzo and feta cheese that I always have on hand, I whipped up a hearty and healthy summer pasta salad that I dressed with my standard balsamic vinaigrette (balsalmic vinegar + lemon juice + squirt of agave syrup + dollop of Dijon mustard + olive oil + salt, pepper). Not only did I get to assuage my guilty conscience, but I also had a delightful lunch to look forward to whilst I updated excel documents at work the next morning.
It was a win-win. And a tasty one at that.