When it’s time to clean up after dinner, we often have small amounts of vegetables or sauces left in the pan. Not quite enough for a leftover lunch, but enough that I don’t want to waste it. Instead of storing these little bits in the fridge, only to throw it out a couple of weeks later once it’s gotten suitably moldy, I keep a container in the freezer where I collect these odds and ends. Green beans, sliced onions, mushrooms, pasta in marinara sauce – it all gets tossed into the same container. When I use a jar of marinara sauce, I rinse the jar with a little bit of water and pour it into my freezer soup pot. When I make pesto sauce, I add a cup of water to the blender and run it to clean off the remaining sauce and I pour in, too.
The trick is to make sure you’re not mixing flavors. I wouldn’t, for instance, mix leftover enchilada sauce in the same container that I’ve saved pesto. Instead, I keep an “Italian style” container and another for “Mexican style” flavors.
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When I make soup, I simply add my container of leftover bits (never from someone’s plate, by the way) for extra flavor. This reduces our kitchen waste, eliminates clutter in my refrigerator, and stretches our food budget a bit.
I shared this idea with my friend Jane, whose kids have dubbed this “Memory Lane Soup” because they get to revisit all the things they’ve had for dinner recently. I love that.