Tag Archives: Leftovers

Getting greener, one meal at a time


Little things make a big difference: Scotch tape and a red Sharpie marker with Shiro Miso, a mild miso. * Artist Leia Bell created the ceramic tile.

Scotch® tape and a red Sharpie® are my favorite tools against wasting food! This green idea falls in the “reduce” and “reuse” categories of conservation.

By labeling food, we know what each container holds and when we made it. This helps us eat leftovers within two days and trash old food before it gets too gross to bear!

Let’s keep Sesame Street out of it!

Similar to Oscar the Grouch, leftovers can easily become Marvin the Moldy. When it comes to leftover food, days turn into weeks so quickly. It’s a vicious cycle:

  1. Buy groceries, make great food and optimistically save leftovers! It’s so nice to have lunch ready for the next day. Life is great!
  2. Make more food and more leftovers. Gradually the containers fill our fridge shelves. We ignore the increasing number of containers in the refrigerator. Before we know it, we realize our fridge is full, but there’s nothing to eat!
  3. It’s too gross. The food in the fridge is either growing “hair” or learning to talk. We toss all the containers of old food because they are too gross to investigate!
  4. Start over.

But those days are behind us now. My husband is a trained chef. Illinois sanitation regulations for restaurants and food service require that food be labeled and dated. We started doing this at home and it has changed our lives!

Taking charge of the fridge

Here’s what we do…

  • Put Scotch tape (the “magic” kind with a matte finish) on reusable containers.
  • Write the name of the leftovers — with the date. This helps us eat the food in the order we make it and to know when to toss the oldies.
  • We use a red or pink Sharpie marker. Although the markers say “permanent”, after we scrub the containers once or twice, these colors fade. (Black ink is more persistent.) This allows us to reuse the same tape next time around.
  • We save only two servings in the fridge, enough to eat in 2 days – even if only one of us wants to eat the meal again. The rest goes in the freezer, which preserves the food longer.

Added bonus – our food is sanitary. Monk would be proud!

USDA says

Storage times for refrigerated foods…


Storage times for frozen foods…


Bonus Material

P.S. Learn more about Leia Bell, the artist who made the wonderful polar bear tile!