Less waste – An A-Z of leftover food ideas.

In a nutshell – in the spirit of less waste the less-stuff Facebook group came up with lots of ideas for using up lefovers. They vary from vegan to meaty but can all be adapted to suit what you have. 

My plan for using up leftovers is usually heavily reliant on having a blender. I’ve a stick blender which can chop up nuts and it does everything. It’s not needed but it is one of those kitchen gadgets I use every day.

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If you have any recipes for leftovers you would like to add to the list please contact me, I’d like to keep the list growing.

And if you have leftovers that are really past eating you can always compost them.

Get the A-Z of leftover food ideas as a gorgeous free PDF book by joining the less-stuff mailing list.

Avocados -mashed with garlic and lemon to make gaucomale or with cocoa powder and honey to make a pudding (Lisa)


Avocado – I caught the avocado and coco bit of your thread today and someone saying date and nuts for a base before I was pulled away and it reminded me how great a moose that made and this evening inspired by the using left over food thread-I made this glorious pudding from bits and pieces lying around. In case anyone wants to do something similar. The bottom layer is made of dates, over ripe banana, pecan nuts, ground almonds all mixed in the mixer & the moose is avocados, coco powder, hot chocolate powder, bits of crystallised ginger, cashew nuts, cream, custard, spoon of honey all mixed in the mixer. Oh desiccated coconut on top, coco powder and orange peel. It tastes amazing and took less than 10 mins to make-I think it would make scrummy ice cream too, I’ll pop a bit in the freezer. And the table cloth is keeping a clutter free table space! (Anita)


Bubble and Squeak – left over veg and mash panned fried, popped in a bun with ketchup or on a traditional fry up nomnomnom (Jenny)

Beetroot – makes great pesto just take  cooked beetroots, any roasted nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and a handful of green stuff and whizz it up – it can even be carrot tops. (Lisa)


Cauliflower No Cheese – use up cauliflower and any other veg by covering in a chickpea flour white sauce and popping in the oven till brown. (No Cheese sauce: olive oil, tablespoon or so of chickpea flour, generous spoonful of mustard. Stir over heat till combined. Slowly whisk in (use a balloon whisk) liquid, can use water but better with some stock from veggies. Bring to a gentle boil whilst stirring. Cook till fairly thick. Pour over tray of assorted cooked leftover veg and bake till top browns. Sauce is also nice with pasta or braised leeks. Cheap and vegan. The mustard makes it taste convincingly cheesy BTW. (Linda)

ChickenI always use chicken carcases to make stock or soup. (Elspeth)


Dates – Whizzed up into a paste with any nuts to make an amazing cheesecake base or rolled into balls to make sweets (Lisa)

Donuts – if there ever is such a thing as a stale leftover dounut make a fine replacement for bread in bread pudding. Describe it as stale donut pudding and people turn their nose up leaving more for you. (Jenny)


Egg whites – freeze until you need to make macarons, or a baked Alaska! (Lisa)


FishLittle bit of salmon, tuna? Mash with horseradish for tasty cracker topping. (Anna)


Gravy – for leftover roast beef or lamb, veg and gravy (if you have those too) chop up meat roughly and make the mother of all shepherds or cottage pie. Much much nicer than any you’ve made with mince before I promise you xx (Heather)


Hard crusts – a good blender will turn these into breadcrumbs and almost anything can be dipped first in flour, then egg then the breadcrumbs then oven baked. Try fish fingers made like this, slices of courgette, aubergine or apple. You can add herbs and spices to the breadcrumbs for variety. (Lisa)


Indian takeaway – make soup from all the leftovers including rice put in a blender with a tin of tomatos. (John)

Italian bread – stale ciabatta makes great bread pudding (Lisa)


Jam – add a splash of warm water to a jar of jam to get the very last bits out – works well as a cake filling or mix with mustard to spread on top of meat or nut roasts before they go in the oven. (Lisa)


Kidney beans – or any other type of beans mash up well with lemon, tahini, olive oil and garlic to make houmous.(Lisa)


Lager – flat lager works really well in batters for fish, tofu or tempura. (Lisa)

Lettuce – strong tasting green leaves are good stir fried or softened in butter and mixed with pasta. You can try refreshing wilted lettuce in a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Submerge for 20 mins. (Lisa)


Mashed PotatoI always make lots of mashed potato if I’m going to bother making it at all so I can fry it (dry works fine) up in potato cakes YUM! And leftover boiled potato & veg I love in a tortilla kind of thing (very inauthentic, I’m sure… Please forgive any cultural foot in mouth) with eggs, cheese, mushrooms, whatever. That works great hot or cold as a take to work lunch. Xxx (Helen)

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Mashed Potato – used to replace half the flour makes great potato bread. (Lisa)


New potatoes – chopped and gently fried in butter with chives, or with chilli, turmeric and paprika for spicy potatoes. (Lisa)


Olives – blend into a tapenade. (Lisa)

Onions – cook over a very low heat in a little oil or butter in a pan with the lid on. They will mush down and caremalise and you can freeze them in portions to start off French Onion Soup or use in a flan. (Lisa)


Porridgeyou can use cold porridge to make scones. I’ve also used it in place of blended rolled oats in this recipe and it’s yummy! (Linda)

Peanut butter – mix with chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini to make houmous. Works well with butter beans or kidney beans too. (John)


Quinoa – loads of ideas for leftover quinoa here (Lisa)


Radishes – roast in olive oil with a sprinkling of herbs and sea salt. (Lisa)


Savoy cabbage – cut into strips with oil and a sprinkling of salt and put in a medium oven until they go crispy. (Lisa)

Sausages – lovely cold in a sarnie or reused next day in a pasta bake. Just passata and a bit of cheese (Jenny)


TeaBara Brith! or tea cake. (Lisa)

Tomatoes – slow baked. if you’ve a summer glut or some that are passing there prime bake for about three hours in a 225 degree oven. Allow them to cool then put into a jar, cover with olive oil. Store in the fridge then use them as you need them. Om nom nom. (Jenny)

Turkey – or chicken – warm salad. Dice chicken or turkey and add to a casserole dish with a lot of celery, some diced onion and some mayonnaise. Sprinkle crisps on top and grated cheese and heat through in an oven until the cheese has melted. (Meryl)


Upside Down Cake – works with the classic pineapple or even apple slices, pears or tinned peaches. Slice fruit and put at the bottom of a deep baking tin, sprinkle with brown sugar and add sponge mix. (Natasha)

Easy to remember sponge recipe is to weigh the eggs and use the same measurement for the sugar, butter and flour. Cream the butter and flour, add the eggs and a spoonful of the flour, mix gently then add the rest of the flour and some milk if it looks too thick. A 2 egg sponge is enough for a 8 inch sandwich tin or around 10 cup cakes.

Ugly food – Tricky to peel root veg which looks like your grandpa on a bad day? Scrub, chop up unpeeled and and throw in the soup pot. (Anna)

Ugli fruit – delicious – eat one half and leave the second in the fridge, cut side sprinkled with a little sugar. Great breakfast treat for statin users who are missing their grapefruit. Ugli ‘does not contain furanocoumarins’ so is safe with cholesterol lowering medications. (Anna)



VegI juice fruit and veg that’s passed its best. I use veg that’s passed its best to make soup too. (Elspeth)


Wine – if it is possible to leave wine! Even if it’s left overnight it will still freeze well in ice cube trays to be used in soups, broths and risotto (Lisa)


Xmas Pud – Truffles: Melt 2 parts dark chocolate to 1 part double cream in a bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water.  Remove from the heat. Crumble in leftover Christmas pudding and add a splash of booze. Stir well, then set aside for a few hours, to allow the mixture to set. (Jenny)


Yoghurt – lots of ideas for using up natural yoghurt including dips and dressings. (Lisa)


Zest – grate hard oranges, lemons and lime peels to get tangy zesty bits to use in cakes. (Lisa)