Tips for Using Your Leftover Produce

I always buy tons of fresh produce with the best intentions. Giant salads! Huge soups! Smoothies every morning! Vitamin-drunk must be a thing, and I think I’m a lightweight. That, or I’m just deathly afraid of getting scurvy.

We eat a ton of vegetables and fruit, so I don’t limit my produce-buying much. Still, dig into my fridge and you’ll often find a few sad-looking stalks of kale, a Tupperware of wimpy celery, or half a wrapped-up cucumber that’s lost its crunch a little.

So, what do we do with all the forgotten nutrients? There are so many reasons to reduce the amount of food waste we create, and high up on the list is cost - throwing away food physically pains me right in the wallet. We buy local and organic; wasting food is wasting money. As a result, I’ve had to get creative with last-day vegetables and fruits. Here are some of my favourite ways to use up fridge odds and ends.

 

Soup it

This is kind of a no-brainer. This potato and kale soup is delicious, and perfect for add-ins like leftover spinach, chards, celery, mushrooms, or carrots. Produce that wouldn’t hold its own in a salad will still add great flavour to a nice broth.

 

Juice it

Okay, literally any produce is good in juice. Beets? Yes. Cucumbers, celery, cucumbers, spinach, parsley? Yes. Apples, lemons, oranges, limes… You get the picture.

As a general rule, pair your veggies with at least one fruit to make everything palatable. One of my favourites is pear, spinach, cucumber, celery, and mint. Very nice. Or, try apple, orange, lemon, fresh ginger, and turmeric. (Yes, I’ve given in to the turmeric craze.)

Pro tip - if you don’t have produce that’s about to go bad, check out the discount section in your market or grocery store. I’ll often find pineapples, melons, or berries that are just a little too ripe to be called “fresh” at half price. Those are at their sweetest, and work great in a juice.

Another pro tip - you don’t need a juicer. You do need a decent blender and a strainer or cheesecloth. I’ve also saved the pulp from these juices and used them in smoothies or later juices. Reuse and recycle, all day.  

 

Roast it

Drizzle coconut, olive, or avocado oil over your veggies and toss with paprika, sea salt, ground pepper, and fresh garlic. Then roast into submission in a hot oven - around 400 degrees. This is my go-to for elderly broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, you name it.  

Roasted veggies are delicious, nutritious, and keep well; pair with an easy protein like chicken and you’ll have lunch for the next day ready, too.

 

Use Pantry Staples

Make use of all the other staples you have in your fridge and cupboards. A wild rice salad with a vinegar and citrus dressing will mask any lacking crisp in your grapes. Or, make a little broccoli and feta pasta with feta and kalamata olives (I’ve used leftover frozen edamame, green beans, and zucchini, too). Get creative with whatever else you have in your kitchen to bolster your veggies and fruit.

With a little attention and originality, you can make sure every piece of vegetation in your fridge gets used up instead of thrown out. You’ll save money and reduce waste - plus, you can shop the grocery sales freely without worrying what you’ll do with all those veggies. After all, the possibilities are endless.