7 clever ways to use up leftovers and save money
10. July 2023
How can I prevent food waste? By planning your meals for the week, you can save money by only buying the ingredients you need and ensure that any leftover ingredients could be used in a different dish the next day. For example if a quiche needs half a pack of goats cheese, then cook a pasta dish with the remaining goats cheese the following day.
Cook large batches
How can I save money on the weekly shop? Bulk cooking and freezing portions of meals will help save on waste and are a convenient solution for when you need something quick to reheat from the freezer. It is usually more economical too to cook large batches as the price for larger weights and quantities are usually a bit cheaper in the supermarkets e.g minced beef.
Buy a juicer!
If your fruit and vegetables usually turn brown or soft quicker than you can eat them, simply whizz them up in a juicer and enjoy a healthy smoothie. Or you could make soups for lunch.
Get creative with your leftovers
Most meals can be transformed into something else if you have got some left. For example, leftovers from a roast dinner can be turned into a tasty pie – mix any meat, veg and gravy in an oven dish and top with pastry before baking.
- Got leftover pasta? Stir in spring onions, tomato, tuna, cucumber and dressing, pop in the fridge and you have a healthy pasta salad for lunch the next day!
- Leftover rice must be cooled quickly and refrigerated if you want to use it in another dish. Try making a burrito by rolling a flour tortilla around cooked rice, kidney beans, cooked meat, grated cheese and salsa and pop in the microwave to heat up. Or freeze cooked rice and reheat until piping hot to have with chilli con carne or curry.
- Cold mashed potatoes are brill in homemade fishcakes – tinned tuna or salmon work fine. Or if you have plenty of mash use it as a topping for individual cottage pies.
Food past its best?
Not all food that’s gone a bit stale or soft over time needs to go straight in the bin. Just make sure that none of the food has gone mouldy otherwise it is too late! Here’s some ideas of what you can do.
- If you use separated egg yolks for glazing pastry, the spare whites freeze well. When you have enough you can whip up a meringue.
- Stale rolls and baguettes can often be revived by a quick up heat in the oven. If it’s gone too far then rip into chunks toss in oil and bake until toasted and use as croutons.
- Stale chocolate sponge or other cakes can be chopped into chunks and used in an ice cream sundae. Dry Fruit cake is delicious with custard!
- Carrots, celery and spring onions that have started to wilt can be crisped up again in a bowl of ice cold water for a few minutes.
- Limp salad leaves and watercress are great in quiches or place underneath hot fish or chops as you would with spinach.
- Peel the skins off brown, slimy mushrooms – they are usually ok underneath to use.
Be canny and use every last bit!
Instead of binning trimmings and throwing away jars that are almost empty, try out these tips:
- Peelings from potatoes, parsnips and carrot can be deep fried or baked until crisp – dip into hummus for a tasty snack
- Brown onion skins and other veg trimmings can be used to make a stock for soups and stews
- Coriander and parsley stalks contain loads of flavour. Chop them up and use in curries or pasta dishes. Wrap leftover bunches of herbs loosely in damp kitchen paper and refrigerate to make them last longer.
- Any near-empty jars of mustard, pesto, mayo, chutney and other sauces can be scraped into dressings, or added to curries and pasta sauces for extra flavour. Swill out the last bits with water.
You can easily make some changes to help avoid food waste and also help fresh food last longer by simply storing it in the right way:
- Keep the older packets of food towards the front of the shelves and in the fridge so they get used before newer ones which should go at the back.
- Did you know you can freeze cheese and butter? Grate them when frozen and they will defrost super-quick ready for using.
- Freeze packets of food into manageable portions e.g sausages and bacon if you know you can’t use up a whole pack quickly.
- Store potatoes away from onions in a cool dark place to prevent them sprouting faster.
- Garlic should not be kept in the fridge. Nor should tomatoes as they lose their flavour.