EVERY time I get to attend a lavish party or event, I always feel bad when I see foods being wasted. It is a fact that when we are hungry, we tend to get foods more than our stomach can take. And end up throwing what is left in the plate. Such a waste.

Remember also when we go shopping for foods with an empty stomach, we are also inclined to buy more than we can use and eventually, throw them away because they got spoiled before we can cook them. Another waste.

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At this time and age, we have to be more practical and sensible in planning our foods. Not only during parties and events, but more on so, our day to day dining tables. We normally prepare 3 square meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. And even in-betweens. Added up, that is a lot!

I grew up in an environment where we have to eat everything that is placed on our plates. No left-over or we else get “punished” for wasting our foods. When we were kids, we were always told this, “you are lucky to have food day-in, day-out. Wasting food is bad. Look at those kids who don’t get to eat!” And I guess I grew up to respect and value food not only for its nutritional value but more so for giving me life.

I spent some time staying with my aunt & uncle in Phoenix, Arizona when I worked there as a nurse many years ago. I was kind of surprised when she initially asked me how much rice I can consume during meals. Then I found out that they only cook rice and accompanying dish(es) that is just enough for one sitting. My uncle wants “freshly” cooked meals so as to retain the nutritive values, plus it does not occupy space in the refrigerator. Good practice, I told myself.

When I came back home, I tried to do this, but then it entails a lot of practice because of some food idiosyncrasies between family members. Anyway, I am still happy because I was able to instill this practice to my family. And I am so glad they were able to see the value of eating right, no wastage and eating “veggies” at an early age.

Now, here are some tips on what to do with left-over foods:

Rice: One can never go wrong with fried rice. A little oil, a little garlic, a little soy sauce, fish sauce (patis) or salt and rice. If you have some leftover meat (pork, beef, chicken or even fish), it can add a lot of flavor to your fried rice. One can also use seasoning mix or cube to perk up the rice. The good thing with this is that, anything can be added to the rice to give you a “complete” meal by itself. Meat, fish, chicken or even fruits like mangoes & pineapple helps dress up the rice dish!

Fried fish or pork: Make a sweet and sour sauce to liven up the “old” dish. How? A little oil, a little garlic, onions, bell pepper, catsup, vinegar & sugar and if budget permits, some pineapple tidbits. Voila! A new and appetizing dish for the whole family!

Slice the meat in smaller pieces, stir fry with some carrots and jicama, add a little commercially prepared sauce and you have a distinctly appetizing dish made from scratch!

For adobo or humba, slice them into smaller pieces, cook it in pancit canton, bihon, or sotanghon and you’ll have a delightful noodle dish!

Using those small slices of pork or fish with scrambled eggs, you’ll end up with a “tortang isda or baboy.”

Vegetables: Add a little oyster sauce and you have a delicious vegetable dish. Add some left over beef, and you have Beef with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce! Or you can make some soup with your left over veggies. Add a little corn, cornstarch and scrambled egg; this becomes corn soup par excellence!

Another way is to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces, add some meat (if there is some), stir fry them, add seasonings, then add scrambled eggs. This becomes “vegetable egg fooyong.”

Vegetables and/or meats can even be stir-fried and wrapped in lumpia wrapper and deep-fried. A crunchy dish children and old alike would enjoy!

Breads: Slice the breads, coat with butter or margarine, top with a little sugar and toast them to become “tostado”.

Cube the bread and toast them. Use them as crunchy little bits on your salads.

Turn them into dessert: layer them in a pan, pour a thin layer of your favorite “leche flan” mixture. Make 2-3 layers. Oven-bake or steam them and you end up with a delicious and fantastic bread pudding! Raisin, choco chips, nuts, fruits like banana or apples make a great combination!

Or top pan de sal with some spaghetti sauce and cheese, and it becomes Pizza Pan de Sal!

With all these tips, I hope we can all do some “food recycling” instead of just throwing “day-old” food away. Adding something fresh with the “old” ones can totally change and make a dish more pleasant & yummy! Plus the fact that it also save you a lot of money!

Happy Food Recycling!

Culinary Classes are going on at Pots & Pans Home Bake & Coffee Shop along Don Apolinar Velez-Hayes Sts., Cagayan de Oro City. Telephone No. 858-4209. Email-add: potsnpans1976@yahoo.com website: www.potsnpans1976.multiply.com