Protect the Pantry: Croutons

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Last week I posted an introduction to my “Protect the Pantry” series. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, please do so by CLICKING HERE!

The goal of this series is to create dialogue and conversation around food waste. There as so many ways we can grocery shop in our own kitchens and create food and meals with items we already have. I also want to encourage you to recycle or re purpose foods you might otherwise toss out.

Recently I purchased a loaf of Italian bread. I’m not sure why, but I did. By the end of the week i’d used only half the loaf, with no intention of using the rest. As I was sitting there meal planning for the week I wanted to find a way to re purpose this slightly stale bread.

Then I remembered, there’s almost no better way to re purpose bread than using it for croutons. Here are 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Tear or cut leftover bread to bite sized cubes.

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Step 2: Toss in olive oil, melted butter, or a combination of both — being sure not to saturate the bread.

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Step 3: Season — I typically use Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese but be sure to try your own flavor combination.

Step 4:Toast in a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes until your desired crispiness! Enjoy on top your salad or as a snack! Store in an airtight container. 

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I decided to base my weekly meals around ingredients that I could use in multiple recipes and that used ingredients I already had in my pantry and fridge. I settled on a Black and Blue salad as a backdrop for my croutons.

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My salad was inspired by Creme de la Crumb. I used romaine lettuce, skirt steak, caramelized onions, tomatoes, avocado, and croutons. I topped with Honest Fare’s Guitless Blue Cheese Dressing

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Protect the Pantry Series: Introduction

I have a bad habit that I’m sure many of you have as well… I’m a sucker for a GREAT DEAL or and AMAZING FIND. I’ll just call it what it is, I’m an impulse buyer. This is is true for me when it comes to clothing shopping and even grocery shopping. I love finding cool pantry items at Trader Joes and Aldi… the issue is that I end up with a pantry full of food items that I probably wont use or might expire before I get to try them.

I don’t think anyone is to blame.

American’s are blessed to have access to food, water, restaurants, and the best grocery stores. We love buffets, order the full portion and leave half to be dumped instead of ordering the half portion, shop at warehouse stores, and freeze extra food that we know we’ll never eat. We’ve got to do better. I’ve got to do better.

The National Resources Defense Council states that, “Store promotions leading to bulk purchases or purchases of unusual products often result in consumers buying foods outside their typical meal planning, which then gets discarded.” I’m guilty of this and I’ve got to do better.

According to feedingamerica.org, “An estimated 25 – 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed” and even worse is that “More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste.”

I’ll be the first to admit that historically, I don’t do such a great job trying to avoid food waste. I cook a lot and because I’m a “food blogger” I try out lots of different foods and recipes and sometimes it’s more than my husband and I can enjoy together.

My hope is to create a “series” of posts that encourage you to use food items you might have sitting in your pantry or to avoid buying more than you need. Some of these posts might be my own recipes or I might share some foods I made using recipes from other bloggers. Other ideas might encourage recycling leftovers into lunches and other dinner meals or providing suggestions for better portions.

Hopefully this will be ongoing. I’ll do my best to share my thoughts and attempts to protect my pantry and the food I order and/or bring into my home.

Join in on the conversation with me. How do you protect your pantry and avoid food waste?

Follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #ProtectThePantry and @PinchPlateParty

SOURCES:

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf

http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/how-we-work/securing-meals/reducing-food-waste.html