A Top Chef's Simple Trick for Cutting Super Bowl Food Waste

Serving up a feast on Super Bowl Sunday? You’ll want this chef's genius ideas for keeping leftovers out of the trash.

Super Bowl Sunday is basically a holiday in my house. Sure, the game might be fun, and the commercials can be clever. But the big draw? The food, of course. When else do I have permission to eat nachos for dinner? Not to mention chicken wings, pizza, and other junky-delicious game day faves if we head over to a friend's place.

But, fast forward a few hours after the pre-game, and the scene looks something like this: limp chicken wings, congealed pizza, and picked-over nachos dying a slow death on a coffee table. We sit on the couch, stuffed, until the game/commercials/Puppy Bowl ends, and then slide most of the remaining food into the trash.

There’s no denying that we Americans like to eat on Super Bowl Sunday. In fact, our national food consumption on game day is second only to Thanksgiving. That's a lot of chicken wings (1.3 billion to be precise).

But unfortunately, when there's a lot of food, there's usually a lot of food waste. Americans toss an average of 400 pounds of food per year per person. That works out to about $1,800 a year for a family of four. That's a lot of money to throw in the trash.

Like a lot of moms, Stephanie Izard has been thinking about how to minimize food waste. “Since becoming a parent I’ve become even more conscious of it,” she says. Unlike a lot of other moms, Stephanie won season two of Top Chef and owns three restaurants. She’s working with Morton Salt on its #EraseFoodWaste campaign and is offering tips and ideas for how the rest of us can keep Super Bowl food waste at a minimum.

First the bad news. Stephanie notes that party food leftovers are especially challenging to save. The food has sat out for a while, making it unappealing or even unsafe to eat the next day. (Food shouldn’t be held at room temperature for more than two hours.) 

The good news is, Stephanie has a super-smart (and simple) tip that can literally cut food waste in half. Instead of putting all of your guac or chicken wings or chili into a big bowl at the beginning of the party, put a more moderate portion out for noshing. When the food runs out, refill. That way, half of the pizza, chili, or guac stays refrigerated until needed. This also means you can heat up a fresh batch of wings, say, when your guests are ready for it. Anything that doesn't get served stays fresh, and you've got dinner for Monday night. Score!

Stephanie agrees that one of the toughest party foods to eat the next day is nachos. Leftover nachos are not the stuff dinner dreams are made of, am I right? But thanks to Stephanie's genius recipe for Next Day Tortilla Soup, even your sad congealed nachos can have a second life.  

So whether you’re cheering for the Patriots or the Eagles of just Justin Timberlake at half-time (raised-hand emoji here), let's agree that we can all root for more nachos and less food waste. 

Next Day Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

48 oz unsalted chicken stock

Coarse sea salt (such as Morton’s), to taste

1 leftover plate of nachos

Shredded cheese

Leftover herbs from nachos (such as cilantro and scallions)

 Directions:

1.     Heat chicken stock in a medium pot. Season with sea salt to taste.

2.     When stock is boiling, carefully add plate of leftover nachos, whole. Simmer for 10 minutes.

3.     Ladle soup into big bowls and garnish with shredded cheese and leftover herbs.

Serves 4

Jenna Helwig is the senior food editor at Parents. She'll be making short rib nachos on Super Bowl Sunday and will be surprised if there are any leftovers. Follow Jenna on Instagram.

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