When I first heard that this month’s Recipe ReDux theme was about reducing food waste, of course my first thought was, “Hmm, now what can I make with all the scraps of food my toddler doesn’t eat…?”
Food my kid is served but doesn’t eat is by far the biggest source of food waste in my house right now, but after some *very careful* consideration, I decided not to go that route with this recipe…
That’s not to say I don’t repurpose her leftovers. Especially if it’s dinner she hasn’t finished, I typically pack it up and send it in her daycare lunch the next day. The way I see it, I’m not only saving money and reducing food waste, but I’m also increasing the number of exposures she has to the food in question, which is the best strategy for encouraging her to ultimately accept it (check out my Food Exposure Chart to learn more).
But on to the ReDux challenge:
Whatever you would normally toss, use it up. Share tips for reducing food waste in meal planning, prep or using up scraps.
As a busy mom, the second biggest source of food waste in my home is food that I forgot to use before it spoiled. And the food that this happens most often with is definitely bread! You pretty much have to have bread in the house when you have a kid, but since I buy 100% whole wheat bread with no preservatives, I often find myself with half a loaf or more that’s about to spoil. Keeping the bread in the refrigerator helps, but only to a point.
However, I recently came to see this as a good thing because I often cook with bread crumbs and I haven’t found a brand of commercially produced 100% whole wheat bread crumbs that I’m happy with. So even though I am all about convenience products, I do “resort” to making my own versions when the product I want isn’t available (see my recipe for flavored yogurt with no added sugar).
Check out my “recipe” (if you can call putting dried bread in a blender a recipe) for 100% whole wheat bread crumbs.
Now, what to cook with all those bread crumbs? I often bread fish and chicken with them, but I find the best way to use a lot of them up is by mixing them into ground meat in dishes like meatballs and meatloaf.
So why meatloaf? I’ll admit, it doesn’t have a fabulous reputation. But I find that it’s easier to prepare in general (no rolling the mixture into individual balls) and simpler to get onto the table on a weeknight since I don’t have to make pasta to go along with it.This meatloaf recipe is a hit with kids and contains two slices of whole grain bread per serving! Click To Tweet
And besides that, kids generally love it! Anything you can put ketchup on, amiright? What I especially love about this recipe is that each serving of meatloaf has about two slices of whole wheat bread, but you can barely tell it’s there. So if your kids aren’t big on whole grains yet, this is one way to serve them to your family (just don’t call it “sneaking”!)
Many meatloaf recipes also use a ketchup glaze, but I’ve skipped that for simplicity. We just serve ketchup at the table for those who prefer it.
And perhaps most importantly of all, this meal is so freezer-friendly and easy to prep. Just mix everything together, divide into three portions, (I like to use recyclable aluminum pans available at most grocery stores) cover and freeze. Even if meatloaf seems pretty “blah” to you now, I guarantee that when you have a new baby in the house (or are cooking for someone who does), a meal that’s rich in protein, iron and satiating complex carbs that you just have to pop into the oven will sound divine!
Makes 2 or 3 loaves, 2-4 servings each
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 cups 100% whole wheat bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oregano or Italian seasoning
ground black pepper, to taste
Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Gently mix until fully combined, being careful not to over mix.
Divide mixture into three equal portions and press into individual small loaf pans (I use 8.5 in by 4.5 in recyclable aluminum pans.)* To freeze: Use a layer of plastic wrap to create a seal around the raw meat, then cover the whole dish with aluminum foil, seal and label well.
To bake right away: Bake at 350F for 1 hour. To bake from frozen: Bake at 375F for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Serve with ketchup and/or steak sauce and vegetable of choice. Remember that your meal doesn’t necessarily need a starch like mashed potatoes because the meatloaf already contains bread.
*Each of the three loaves will serve either 2 adults plus 1-2 toddlers or 2 adults, one of whom has a large appetite due to pregnancy or nursing. Alternatively, you may divide the mixture into two loaves to allow for more servings per meal. Increase the bake time by 15-30 minutes if so.