Food for Thought: Love Your Leftovers

tetrazziniAmericans waste an estimated 40 percent of the food they buy. In fact, the average person wastes an estimated 25 pounds of food every month, and dairy products are thrown out more than any other foods, even produce. Learning kitchen tricks and strategies to store dairy products properly can help reduce food waste. Baltimore parents are busy people, so make the most of your leftovers

There are many ways to make a difference, including using products correctly and being creative in the kitchen.

To toss could be a loss. Research conducted by the Midwest Dairy Association found more than half of consumers don’t understand the meaning of “Sell-By” or “Use-By” dates on dairy products. These dates actually indicate peak quality, not safety. Dairy products can be safely consumed beyond the “Sell-By,” “Best-By” or Use-By” dates up to one week for milk, up to 10 days for yogurt and weeks or months for most soft and hard cheeses.

Know when to throw. Discard dairy products if they have an off flavor, odor or appearance. Soft cheese or yogurt with mold should be discarded. Mold on hard cheese should be removed by cutting off a 1-inch square around the affected area and throwing it away; the rest is safe to eat.

Love your dairy leftovers. Rely on dairy’s versatility to transform leftover ingredients into a new creative meal idea. For example, milk and cheese can help turn tonight’s roasted turkey breast into tomorrow’s Turkey Tetrazzini with Cheddar and Parmesan.

Portion and freeze future meals. Soups, stews and casseroles all freeze well, including those that contain dairy products. For best quality, soft cheeses should be used within two to three months of freezing and hard cheese within six months.

Put nutrition first. Many experts agree eating too many calories is a form of food waste—it can impact health and lead to chronic disease, including obesity. Maximize food choices with healthy, nutrient-rich options.

Need to use up some of that milk and cheese before it goes bad? Try this easy, but delicious, recipe.

Turkey Tetrazzini with Cheddar and Parmesan

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

1 package (12 ounces) whole-wheat penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups low-fat milk
1 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (or additional chicken broth)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups diced cooked turkey breast
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray shallow two- to three-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in flour. Stirring constantly, cook about two minutes. Whisk in milk, chicken broth, wine and pepper and bring mixture to a boil. Stir in mushrooms, reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until mixture thickens and mushrooms are softened.

Stir Parmesan cheese, pasta, turkey and peas into milk mixture and spoon into prepared baking dish. Top with cheddar cheese and cover loosely with foil. Bake about 45 minutes, or until bubbling at edges and heated through.

Have a delicious family recipe everyone loves? Share it with us and we may print it in Baltimore’s Child!

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