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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Nothing goes to waste


Engage the whole family in healthy eating.
Engage the whole family in healthy eating. - 123RF Stock Photo

Have you ever opened up the fridge to put your groceries away just to find some soggy vegetables in the bottom of the crisper? Ever packed up leftovers from dinner with the full intention to use the next day, only to throw them out a week later? This happens to all of us, even me. This is why I have made it one of my short-term goals this year to do everything I can to reduce my food waste.

As a registered dietitian, I look at more than just nutrient value when supporting my clients in making healthful changes to their food choices. It is also important to consider a client’s budget, time available, family dynamics and cooking skills. The following tips for reducing food waste can help get your family cooking and eating together, while saving time and money. Beyond the personal benefits, they can also help reduce how much food and packaging end up in the landfill.

Before shopping

Make a list of what is in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Use this list to determine what meals and snacks will be on the menu for the coming week. Any perishable items should be on the meal plan within the next few days before they go bad. Older fruit can be added to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal. Wilted vegetables and herbs can be added to sauces and soups. Leftovers can be re-purposed into a meal another time. If you have something that is not going to be used right away, freeze it. And if you have non-perishable items in your cupboards that you know are not going to be used, consider bringing them to the store and placing in the food bank donation bin (the Atlantic Superstore Spring Food drive is running at all of our stores now through Easter weekend in support of local food banks in our communities).

Get the whole family involved in making your weekly menu plan by asking what meals everyone would like to have, or by looking through cookbooks or magazines together. Everyone is more likely to eat what’s on the table if they have some say in the process. A “fridge clean-up” stir-fry or soup is a good meal to have towards the end of the week, as odds and ends can be thrown together to make a nutritious meal and you will use up items before they spoil.

While shopping

Based on your menu, make a grocery list of anything you need to pick up. Organizing your list by section or aisle in the store can help you to stick to your list. Look for local and in-season fruits and vegetables. These have short transport and storage times compared to out-of-country items, so will likely last longer in the fridge. In the off-season, frozen fruits and vegetables can be a nutritious, cost-effective option — and they will last a long time in the freezer. For produce items, consider leaving the plastic bag on the shelf. Items like apples, peppers, and broccoli should not need a bag if you wash them at home before eating. When checking out, be sure to pack groceries in reusable shopping bags.

After shopping

Once home from the store, consider what could be prepped before storing away in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Vegetables and fruit are more convenient for snacking and incorporating into weeknight meals when peeled and chopped ahead of time. Save the peels and ends of vegetables for making a homemade stock, freezing if you will not have time to do this right away. Broccoli stems are an excellent addition to stir-fry. Keep herbs fresh for weeks by rolling in paper towel and storing in a bag or container. Slice and grate blocks of cheese to have available for a quick pizza or Taco Tuesday.

This Kale and Sweet Potato Skillet makes a quick lunch or weeknight meal, especially if the sweet potatoes are already cut up). If you are looking to use up some other vegetables from the fridge, mushrooms and peppers would also go really well as additions.

 Kale and sweet potato skillet makes a quick lunch or weeknight meal.
Kale and sweet potato skillet makes a quick lunch or weeknight meal.

Kale and Sweet Potato Skillet

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (750 mL) peeled cubed sweet potato (1-inch/2.5 cm cubes) (about 1 large sweet potato)
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) PC Blue Menu Omega Oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) diced onion
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) kale, torn in bite-size pieces (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 PC Blue Menu Oméga-3 White Eggs – Large

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
  2. Place sweet potatoes in small saucepan; pour in enough cool water to cover by 1-inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain well; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tsp (10 mL) of the oil in nonstick ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat; cook half of the onions for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, or until tender and light golden. Stir in kale; cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until kale is bright green and just beginning to wilt. Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) water; cook without stirring for about 1 minute or until water has evaporated. Transfer to bowl; set aside.
  4. Drizzle remaining 2 tsp (10 mL) oil in same frying pan; heat over medium-high heat. Fry remaining onion, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender and golden. Stir in sweet potatoes; fry for another 3 to 4 minutes stirring once or twice. Place pan in centre of oven; bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until sweet potatoes are very tender and golden. Remove from oven; stir in kale mixture, salt and pepper. Return to oven; bake for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Transfer to shallow serving dish. Cool frying pan.
  5. Wipe frying pan clean with paper towel; return to stovetop over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Spray with cooking spray; carefully crack eggs into pan, one on each side. Fry for about 1 minute or until whites begin to firm. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) water to pan; cover with tight fitting lid. Continue to cook for 20 to 30 seconds; remove lid and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until egg whites are cooked with a soft runny yolk or until desired doneness. Remove from heat. Divide sweet potato kale mixture between two plates; carefully place an egg on top of each. Serve immediately.

  • Makes 2 servings
  • Per Serving: Calories 380 Cal, Fat 15 g, Sodium 490 mg, Carbohydrate 29 g, Fibre 4 g, Protein 27 g
  • Recipe source: pc.ca

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