Make Food Not Waste (How To Use Up Leftovers)

 A couple of weeks ago I saw an interesting (German) documentary about food waste and how to cook food that would otherwise be wasted. I realised just how much food people throw away, that I would have happily cooked up still. Next week is the Love Food Hate Waste website launch and I am invited to the launch party, so I figured it was time to get this post out of draft mode! The Love Food Hate Waste website launches June 1st, you can sign up in the meantime to get lots of handy tips to reduce your food waste.

Watch the trailer for Wastecooking, a great food waste documentary:

Why does food waste matter?

Food waste is a HUGE issue, one that extends beyond your fridge and includes supermarkets, the delivery process and even the growers find themselves with wasted food in the form of rejected produce. I’ve touched briefly on food waste before, and I know I will definitely blog about it again the future, as there are so many things to cover on this issue. To keep it simple, I will include this lovely infographic by Love Food Hate Waste, also have a listen to Love Food Hate Waste on Radiolive this weekend.

I’ve touched on how I use up leftovers a few times before on my blog, mainly in the form of fermenting. However not everyone has the time, skills, patience or taste buds for fermenting so I figured I’d start a bit more basic. We love leftovers in our household, we love leftovers so much that they are usually consumed by the following day. We have leftover dinner for lunch everyday and if we still have leftovers we are very creative at using up leftovers in a new interesting way.

Here are my favorite dishes/ways to use up leftovers:


This is the ultimate way to use up any sad looking veggies, beans/legumes or meat. I make vegetable stock out of vegetable scraps such as the ends of carrots, celery, onions, broccoli stalks, leek tops etc. Everyone in my household gives me all these random bits of veggies, as they know I’ll like dig them out of our scraps bucket anyway (I have no shame). You can also make a meat stock out of leftover bones/carcass (such as chicken). I’m vegetarian so don’t do this, but I have seen my flatmate cook a vegetable soup while stewing a chicken carcass in with the soup mix (and removing it before serving).
I’ve also re-made soups that we made too much of and got sick of it. Just chuck it in a pot with more veggies & flavours, and you have a different soup altogether! Broccoli stalk soup is also another favourite, broccoli stalks are commonly thrown out but they make a mighty creamy soup. A lot of recipes call for just the white part of leeks, don’t throw the leafy top out though, they can also be made in to soup or soup stock.
Making vegetable stock
While you are making soup make some croutons out of stale bread, just chop up old bread, drizzle with some oil and lightly toast in the oven.
Soup is perfect for freezing too, we freeze soup in portion sized glass jars- just make sure you leave enough headspace so they don’t break! Check out Zero Waste Chef’s posts on ‘leftover soup’, soup stock and bone broth, and while you are there check out her post on freezing without plastic.


 Leftovers on a pizza, are so good! We make our own pizza bases and cover our pizza with any leftovers we have in the fridge, such as chilli beans, hotpots, cooked veggies, or a thick soup. You can also make a nice pesto with any slightly wilted greens such as herbs, spinach or kale and some nuts and oil.

Stir Fry

This one is great for random veggies that need to be used up. Just fry them all up and flavour accordingly. I have even fried up some excess SCOBY in my stir fry (it’s an acquired taste that’s for sure)!
Stir fry with battered & fried SCOBY


Burger ingredients, the container is for my veggie scraps for stock
I hardly ever follow recipes for burger patties (or any meal really) these days. Burger patties are a great way to use up lentils, beans, veggies or meat. Just whizz it all together in a food processor then fry/bake/grill. I always chuck in some herbs from my garden too. You can then serve these patties with salads and random condiments from your fridge, or sauerkraut made from sad cabbage.



Smoothies are great for using up leftover greens and fruit, feijoa are great in smoothies with the skins on too. I use over ripe fruit in kombucha or Callan helps me make it in to alcohol. A few weekends ago we had a bunch of friends over each bringing feijoa and apples from their’s/their neighbors gardens to be made in to cider. We used the leftover fruit pulp from the cider/wine making process to make crumble! Unfortunately I composted all of the feijoa skins before realising they can totally be used in recipes too, whoops!

Stewing the apples & feijoa for cider & crumble


Carrot cake, pear muffins, feijoa muffins, savory vegetable muffins… the possibilities are endless! I usually search a recipe (use ecosia instead of Google!) based on what ingredients I have. I’ll substitute anything I don’t have and I always use aquafaba instead of eggs. Aquafaba is the liquid that forms when boiling chickpeas, or the liquid from a tin. 


I have found it’s easier to use up food that needs to be eaten by not being afraid to be creative in the kitchen. I often don’t follow recipes, or if I do I heavily substitute ingredients that I don’t have with ingredients I do have. As I eat local produce that is in season I had to learn pretty quickly how to do this. Next time you have a sad looking vegetable in the bottom of the fridge, don’t just mindlessly toss it out, consider what you can do with it- can it be cooked? Can it be fermented? Can it be made in to pesto or hummus? Can it be turned in to vege stock? Or is it so far gone that it can’t be eaten? If so, then compost it.

Happy waste cooking everyone!

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