We’ve teamed up with Too Good To Go—an app where local grocery stores, restaurants and bakeries sell surprise bags of their surplus or unsold food at a discounted price so it doesn’t go to waste—to share family-friendly cooking that keeps the earth in mind. Too Good To Go takes a holistic approach to rescuing food that’s a win-win-win: you get to enjoy items from your favorite local spots, store owners are able to sell their surplus, and our planet is that much greener because of it.
As a restaurant chef and first-time mom, being mindful of waste (from surplus food to single-use packaging) is something that’s always at the forefront of my meal planning. I strive to come up with fun and tasty ways to not only make my cooking eco-friendlier, but to also get the whole family involved, including my two-year-old son, Arlo.
I love watching Arlo snack on chunks of bread dipped in carrot-top pesto or use his little reusable bag of frozen morning berries to help make his smoothie—and I feel even better knowing they made the most of scraps we saved in the fridge or surplus food we rescued using Too Good To Go, an app that connects users to extra food that might otherwise get wasted in their neighborhood.
Cooking this way is sometimes easier said than done (each Too Good To Go bag is a surprise, for example), but this handy pocket guide will hopefully inspire you to make something delicious for the whole family—no matter what’s in your fridge, pantry , or surprise bag.
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to become a chef was for the chance to get creative while at work; I truly believe it’s the key when it comes to getting kids (and adults) interested in cooking. As a two-time “chopped” champion, I’m no stranger to whipping up dishes on the fly from a host of random ingredients, but you don’t need to be a pro chef to recreate the experience at home (and have fun doing it).
Once or twice a week, I like to shake up mealtime with an at-home “Chopped Challenge.” The surprise bags from Too Good To Go are perfect for this because we never know what goodies we’ll get—from baked goods to misshapen produce from grocery stores, these ingredients can inspire an entire meal. If we don’t have a surprise bag to work with, I’ll start by gathering the odds and ends from the fridge, plus items that might be unique or interesting, then my family and I brainstorm to create a one-of-a -kind dish
Ready to try it at home? Here are some of our favorite recipes to riff on for your own “Chopped Challenge” (though you can use ’em as inspiration for any meal), depending on what we’ve got.
Assorted Groceries (Produce, Meat, Pantry Goods)
Certain dishes lend themselves better than others to substituting a variety of ingredients, like stir-fries, pantry pastas, weeknight tacos or quesadillas, and soups, for starters. If you’ve got a slew of veggies and a protein, sauté them up with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce and serve with fluffy white rice. Stuck with a load of carrots or celery? Simmer or roast them, then blend with aromatics and water or cream till velvety smooth.
These recipes all make a great foundation and are easy to adapt with the ingredients you’ve got on hand.
That’s right, you can Repurpose those bits of crusty bread day-old baked goods in everything from salads to desserts. Lightly sweet breads like challah and brioche can become bread pudding, casseroles, and more, while muffins, cupcakes, and cake can be leveled-up for quick and easy cake pops (or add ice cream for a frosty twist). For savory dishes, add char-grilled slices of crusty bread from a Too Good To Go bakery surprise bag to plump summer tomatoes for a panzanella salad that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, or make an eggy, cheesy, vegetable-filled strata to start the day.
Whole roasted chicken, whether you get it in your surprise bag or you have a bit in the fridge from last night’s dinner, is ideal for chicken salad sandwiches, meat for chicken noodle soup, and other hearty dishes. Got pasta? You’re looking at the makings of pasta pie and noodle kugel.
Don’t Forget the Odds & Ends
Those beet greens, strawberry tops, and even potato peels (yes! potato peels!) are ready for their close-up. For example, you can whip up a batch of pesto using carrot or strawberry tops that tastes great when swirled into warm pasta or used to top creamy bowls of burrata.
When we’re finished prepping dinner, Arlo and I will also usually start a frozen food bag of scraps and overripe produce to be used in soups, smoothies, and other inventive recipes, like Potato Peel Focaccia. Leftover vegetables and last night’s roast chicken make for flavorful chicken stock that can be used in countless dishes. The pulp leftover from juicing fruits and vegetables is packed with flavor (and fiber) and it’s beyond delicious when baked into bread (Arlo’s favorite!)—swap out grated zucchini, apples, or other produce for 2 1/2 cups of juiced vegetable pulp . Don’t be afraid to stretch the limits of what your food can do—your palate and the planet will thank you.
What are your favorite ways to get creative with family mealtime? Tell us in the comments!
Our friends at Too Good To Go have been helping connect surplus and unsold food to home cooks since 2016 in Copenhagen. Now in 17 countries, they help save more than 100,000 meals every day through their app that allows users to order food that might otherwise get wasted from local restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, cafes, and more. This means that instead of contributing to the 40 percent of food that gets wasted in the US, yesterday’s challah could become today’s saving strata (and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process).