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With a little creativity, you’d be amazed at the simple and delicious meals you can conjure up with these leftover bits and bobs lying around your kitchen! As well as saving food from the bin, you’ll also be saving yourself a few quid by creating a meal without buying anything new. Here are some inventive ways to serve up a fabulous meal from the bits and pieces that need using up. 

1. Potatoes

The humble spud is the UK’s most wasted food, but it needn’t be! If you’ve bought a bag containing more than you know how to get through, and they’re now going soft in your veg drawer, don’t worry – there are loads of tasty ways to use them! Try a quick and easy dinner of jacket potatoes with your favourite toppings (also a ‘grate’ way to use up cheese!), treat the kids to some loaded potato wedges, or mash them together with cheese and any veg you need to use. If you need to freeze them to enjoy another day, cook them first – raw potatoes don’t freeze well. 

2. Bread

We’re a nation of bread-wasters here in the UK, with nobody wanting to eat the crusts and the ends of the bag often going stale or dry. It’s all still perfectly edible though, and it can be transformed into quick and easy dinners! Our bread-end pizzas are a huge hit with kids, who’ll love to help prepare them. Alternatively, you could make your own garlic bread, or use it to make croutons for soup or breadcrumbs to top mac ‘n’ cheese. 

3. Milk

Whether it’s the dregs in the bottom of the carton or you’ve simply had to buy a bigger carton than you needed because the small size was sold out, there’s no need to pour that milk down the sink! Use it to make pancake batter or Yorkshire puddings, or whizz it up with some fruit that needs using to create a mouthwatering smoothie. You can also freeze milk dregs into ice cube trays ready to pop into tea or coffee frozen!

4. Pork

Another top five most wasted food is pork, and it’s often because we’re forced to buy a bigger pack because there were no smaller packs available. Not to worry – you can either freeze half of it when you come back from the shops, or you can use it to make a batch of delicious curry or stew and freeze extra portions for a quick and easy meal another day. Crispy pork fajitas are another way to use pork, and you can freeze portions of the filling to add to fresh wraps another day.

5. Chicken

As with pork, chicken often goes to waste because we’ve bought a pack with too many portions, perhaps because the shop was out of smaller packs. Or you might have some cooked chicken left over from Sunday’s roast dinner! Either way, again like pork, batch cooking curry and stew is a great way to use up leftover chicken (the curry option gives you that ‘fakeaway’ feeling!), which can also be added to soups, stir fries and sandwiches or frozen. Our leftover Sunday roast pasties are another great use for it. 

6. Fruit

Apples, pears and soft fruits such as berries, apricots and peaches can all be transformed into delicious fruit compote, curd or jam. This is delicious spooned on to porridge, breakfast cereal or pancakes, and can also be layered up with cream or ice cream for a quick and easy dessert. Here’s a quick jam recipe to get you started. 

7. Pastry

Whether you made your own and have some left over, or you bought a roll of ready-made pastry and didn’t need all of it for your original recipe, why not use what’s left to make some delicious jam tarts? If you also have some fruit that’s starting to go a bit soft, this is a great way to use that, too! 

8. Baked beans

Need to use up an open, half-full can of baked beans? Try mixing them with eggs for a tasty breakfast, or with cheese for a delicious spin on beans on toast.

9. Cheese

Cheese needn’t ever go to waste, as it’s great for grating onto just about everything: pizzas, toast, scrambled eggs, pasta – you name it. Did you know that you can also freeze it? Grate it and bag it ready to use in your cooking another day. 

10. Carrots

Finally, we love this fantastic idea for carrots from Love Food Hate Waste New Zealand. Their smashed carrot crisps turn those soft carrots in the bottom of the veg box into a delicious treat that you can accompany with your favourite dips. Healthy eating never tasted so great!

Ending up with too many leftovers?

It’s all too easy to buy more food than you need, and if you’re regularly ending up with leftovers then there are a few things you can do:  

  • Buy loose: if you usually buy pre-packaged fruit and veg, try switching to buying loose – this makes it easier to buy only what you need, and saves you money too!
  • Use our portion calculator to work out how much you need to buy.
  • Establish a routine: add a couple of simple things to your weekly food routine to help you keep an eye on your food at home and buy only what you need, such as writing a shopping list and setting a budget.
  • Use the freezer: if you can’t eat all your food just yet – whether straight from the shop or cooked leftovers – either freeze it now by following the on-pack guidance or freeze it after you’ve cooked it. You’d be surprised just how much you can freeze!

Do you have any other ingenious ideas for using up leftover bits and bobs? Share your ideas with us on our social media channels, or leave a comment below! You’ll find loads of inspiration for using up different ingredients in our food guides and recipe pages. 

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