Here at Sitka Seafood Market, sourcing and sustainability is our North Star. We use the most environmentally-friendly fishing equipment and deeply respect the health of our fisheries. We are always looking for ways to make the most of these precious resources by reducing waste and creating better practices.
Over the years, I’ve tried my best to follow a similar path in the work I do. Shopping locally, cooking seasonally, recycling, composting—these top the list of admirable efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses.
Where we tend to fall short is food waste. While waste occurs all along the supply chain, an estimated 37% is produced at the consumer level—essentially, household food waste. Americans throw away 27 million tons of food each year, which translates to a staggering $400 billion dollars worth of food, according to ReFED, an organization dedicated to ending food waste across the U.S. food system. This is especially disheartening when food insecurities exist for so many.
As stated in a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the single largest source of edible food waste in U.S. homes today is discarded leftovers. Buried in the back of the fridge and discovered long after they’ve spoiled, leftovers just end up in the trash, clogging landfills and generating greenhouse gasses. Some folks simply don’t like eating the same thing two days in a row.
The trick is to transform last night’s dinner into something entirely different. This is where a strategically-stocked pantry and a little ingenuity come in. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Stock an assortment of shelf-stable dry goods, like breadcrumbs, pasta, rice, quick grits, and grains, and a variety of canned goods, such as beans, broth, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Equally as indispensable as dry goods is a stash of fridge and freezer staples, like eggs, frozen peas, frozen spinach, frozen puff pastry, and tortillas. These will breathe new life into your leftovers.
Now comes the fun part. Filling tacos with leftover fish is delicious and easy but we can take it even further. Total transformation!
- Don’t know what to do with that extra serving of slow-roasted fish with potatoes? Mash them together with an egg and some seasoning, form into patties, coat in breadcrumbs, then pan fry for crispy next-day croquettes.
- Fold diced potatoes and flaked fish into a bechamel with peas, then bake under a sheet of puff pastry until brown and bubbly for a delightful seafood pot pie.
- Didn’t finish last night’s Thai fish curry with rice? Combine it all in a saucepan, add some broth, shredded carrots, frozen peas, sliced scallions, and a squeeze of lime for a soothing tom yum soup.
- Make too much pan-seared halibut with caper sauce for one sitting? Reheat it with frozen spinach and a touch of butter or cream and serve it over pasta or grits.
- Combine leftover fish with grainy mustard, mayonnaise, and chopped celery and olives for a deluxe fish salad lettuce wrap or sandwich.
- For breakfast, fold any leftover fish, sautéed veggies, and canned beans into scrambled eggs and roll into a burrito for a protein-packed start to your day.
- Fold flaked fish into beaten eggs with some wilted spinach and shredded or crumbled cheese and then bake in well-greased muffin cups for grab-and-go breakfast frittatas that will last you the week.
By eating our leftovers we can help save the planet!