Leftovers: A Healthy, Sustainable, and Cost-Saving Choice
Leftovers are a blessing in disguise. They offer a quick and easy solution for busy weeknights and lazy weekends. Simply reheat the food and enjoy a tasty and nutritious meal without any extra effort or dishes. But, did you know that eating leftovers could also benefit your wallet, your body, and the environment?
According to a survey by the American Chemistry Council, American households toss away about $640 worth of food each year. This food waste not only hits us in the pocketbook, but it also has a significant impact on the environment. Food waste makes up more than 20% of what’s in landfills and is a major source of methane gas, which contributes to global warming. Additionally, the resources used to grow and ship uneaten food across the country, including croplands, freshwater, and fertilizers, are wasted. A 2015 study conducted by Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future suggests that wasted food accounts for 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, 35% of freshwater consumption, 31% of cropland, and 30% of fertilizer usage.
But, what if we could reduce food waste by eating leftovers? The answer is plain and simple; we would be making a healthier environment for ourselves and future generations.
Senior research specialist Marty Heller and his colleague Greg Keoleian researched the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from the food we eat and waste. They found that, “If we look at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that food waste, it is equivalent to adding an additional 33 million average passenger vehicles to our roads every year.” Therefore, by reducing food waste, we could decrease greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming.
Apart from creating a healthier environment, consuming leftovers can also benefit your body. According to a report by Daily Mail, reheated fruits and vegetables may lose a small amount of Vitamin C, which is heat-sensitive. However, the fiber content of these foods remains high, along with the delicious taste. If you’ve stored cold meat and gravy with cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, they will all have infused their flavors, leaving little need for added salt. Beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of cancer, is more easily absorbed from cooked carrots and tomatoes while people with sensitive digestive systems can find cooked vegetables easier to digest.
Moreover, if you’re someone who does not enjoy reheated food, you can always repurpose your leftovers into a new meal. For instance, leftover chicken, brisket, or vegetables can be shredded to make pulled meat or turned into soup. Leftover pizza can be used to make mouth-watering croutons, quiches, or omelets.
Eating leftovers also promotes financial savings. Instead of spending money on expensive takeout lunches or dinners, leftovers can be a healthy and cost-effective alternative. Spending $8-10 per day adds up to about $2080 per year on lunches alone. Even taking lunch to work or school twice per week can save a significant amount of money. And, by eating leftovers like pizza, you could save up to $25 for two adults or $40+ for families with kids!
Suppose you eat leftovers only once a week for dinner; it could still save a family of two adults $1300 in one year. Those savings could go towards a great vacation or another important expense. Therefore, we can conclude that eating leftovers is beneficial to us in every respect.
In conclusion, leftovers are not something to be thrown away. They are a healthy, sustainable, and cost-effective choice that benefits our environment, our bodies, and our pockets. With a little creativity, we can turn leftover food into a delicious meal that saves resources and protects our planet. So, the next time you’re thinking about what to have for dinner tonight, take another look at your fridge, and don’t forget about the magical possibilities of leftovers!