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Food thread! Favourite leftover dishes, avoiding waste, menu ideas.

(666 Posts)
Ninkanink Sun 22-Mar-20 09:47:53

Thought I’d start a thread for everyone to post their tips and ideas on how best to use foodstuffs. Hoping it could be an easy guide as well for those who maybe aren’t so used to home cooking or using leftover foods, or understanding how best to utilise everything you have, expiry dates etc.

We have always been very conscious of food waste so we plan very carefully to use every scrap of food, it’s not hard, it’s just a skill one develops.

I’ll post some of my favourite leftover/using up bits meals and menus here and if anyone else wants to as well, please do!

RedRed9 Sun 22-Mar-20 10:53:19

This is a really good idea.

Also, I fee like there’s an app or a website where you input the ingredients you have and it gives you meal ideas? I can’t remember it though.

RedRed9 Sun 22-Mar-20 10:56:35

My tip is to cut and wash your lettuce but dry it really well then store in an an airtight container with a piece of kitchen roll at the bottom.

Or if you have pre-prepared bags of salad then pop a piece of kitchen roll in it once you’ve opened it.

(Makes it last longer.)

In fact, I might just go and chuck a few pieces of kitchen roll in my fruit/veg fridge drawer for good luck!

Ninkanink Sun 22-Mar-20 11:09:50

If we want suggestions we literally just google a list of the ingredients we have and see what recipes come up.

Xiaoxiong Sun 22-Mar-20 11:32:39

Any ideas for lots of odds and ends of cheese? Of various sorts, I think there's comte in there, some cheddar, some mystery blue cheese, random bits.

RedRed9 Sun 22-Mar-20 11:36:32


Fondue (but that probably wouldn’t work with such a mixture).
Fancy Mac&Cheese. (I make breadcrumbs mixed with oregano, basil and lardons to put on top before putting it in the oven.)
A cheese board if you have crackers and chutney.

Fivefourthree Sun 22-Mar-20 11:39:15

My mum always made soup from whatever bits were knocking about the fridge, and it's something I picked up too.
So sautee chopped onions in a bit oil/butter for 5 min, then add chopped veg such as carrots, parsnip, turnip, celery, swede, radish, pepper, mushrooms etc and continue cooking over low heat for about 10 min. Can add spices to ring the changes at this point if you wish. Add any bits of chopped meat and stir till lightly browned (can stretch one chicken breast a long way doing this) Or chopped cooked sausage or some stewing steak if you have any. I chop meat into quite little pieces.
Or leave meat out completely.
A small splash of wine if you have any will add flavour, then add stock cube/stock jelly as per instructions, let simmer (I do it overnight in slow cooker but can be done on hob, just till veg is soft and meat cooked through.
Word of warning, adding broccoli and cooking for ages gives it a really strong flavour, but the inner part or the thick stem works well.
Great way of using up old bits and bobs. We usually take a flask of soup each to work, and freeze a couple of portions as well. If you freeze in plastic bags (sorry planet!) you can create flat packages and get more into a small freezer.

delilahbucket Sun 22-Mar-20 11:41:38

Most veggies freeze well. I don't think many people know this seen as they all raided the frozen veg section in all of my local supermarkets but the fresh bits were full to the rafters.

Sexnotgender Sun 22-Mar-20 11:44:47

Most veggies freeze well. I don't think many people know this seen as they all raided the frozen veg section in all of my local supermarkets but the fresh bits were full to the rafters.

Yip. This whole situation has highlighted the lack of cooking skills and general knowledge around food from a large number of the population.

LimpidPools Sun 22-Mar-20 11:48:26

I'm currently trying to use up the weird stuff languishing in my cupboard. Any ideas for what to do with a VERY elderly half tube of vegemite? Other than using it like stock cubes.

Also, I have a disc of dried seaweed from the Chinese shop. What am I actually supposed to do with it?

Ninkanink Sun 22-Mar-20 11:54:32

@Xiaoxiong every year in Jan/Feb we make a macaroni cheese (we just use whatever pasta we have to hand) with all the cheese we have leftover from Christmas feasting, including the Stilton. You can add all sorts of things like mustard, bacon, jalapeños, to vary the feel of the finished dish.

Then half of that can be frozen to provide a further meal down the line.

Fivefourthree Sun 22-Mar-20 11:55:42

Limpid add it to soup flowers

TheMemoryLingers Sun 22-Mar-20 11:56:54

My leftover usage is not very innovative, but I'll pop it on here in case there are other not very skilled cooks looking for idiot-proof ideas!

I casserole a lot of things which is super-easy. Leftover meat and veg in pyrex dish with a bit of gravy; mash leftover potatoes and put on top (you can grate some cheese or spread mayonnaise on top to make the mash crispy ) bung in oven at 180 (fan) for about 40 minutes or until gravy bubbles.

My husband likes 'bubble and squeak' which is mashing everything together and frying it as rissoles.

Pretty much any leftovers can be added to an omelette to make it more exciting.

Currying leftovers is another option - fry them, add either stock or tinned tomatoes, then add curry powder or paste to taste. Simmer in the frying pan for 10 mins or so to thicken it up. A dash of cream doesn't go amiss when you serve it.

TheMemoryLingers Sun 22-Mar-20 11:59:11

Xiaoxiong Odds and ends of cheese always go into omelettes here!

Fivefourthree Sun 22-Mar-20 12:02:39

Celery keeps longer if you take it out of the packaging and wrap the bottom end in foil. Really does work!

TheMemoryLingers Sun 22-Mar-20 12:07:34

Another simple tip is to stack ready meals in date order in your fridge and make a mental note of the oldest date so you can put them in the freezer if needed.

TheMemoryLingers Sun 22-Mar-20 12:10:53

Final one - a jacket potato makes a meal out of many leftovers. Anything like chilli, bolognaise or curry can be used up in a jacket. Cold meat can be mashed up with mayonnaise to make a filling - adding mustard or curry powder makes it tastier.

riotlady Sun 22-Mar-20 12:11:23

Any ideas for broad beans? Putting some in a stew, not sure what to do with the rest and we’re in self isolation and a bit limited on ingredients.

Ninkanink Sun 22-Mar-20 12:13:14

Reposting my comments from another thread:

We plan very carefully to ensure we don’t waste food (and money). We always make meals with leftovers and freeze everything that we don’t use.

Tonight we’re having chilli nachos (tortilla chips layered with chilli and cheese, topped with sliced jalapeños, crushed avocado, sour cream and pico de gallo), using up the last portion of chilli I made with 500g of mince at the beginning of the week. Two portions have already gone into the freezer to make two more meals at a later date. We had chilli and rice with avocado when it was first made, then a couple of days later chilli and wedges with chipotle ranch dressing dip, and now, the nachos. So that one lot of chilli has done us for five meals.

There is a pot of yoghurt in the fridge which needs using up. We used some of it to make a raita a week or two ago, and the rest of it is going to be used tomorrow to make tandoori chicken.

The other day when I was cooking peri peri chicken and med veg I noticed that one of the aubergines in the fridge was looking worse for wear. So I sliced it up and popped it into the oven to roast with the rest of the food, and later, froze it. That will be used with a portion of beef/pork mince in garlic and tomato sauce which I froze last week; I’ll layer it up with pasta and make a lasagne.

We each had a joint from the peri peri chicken, and saved one leg and one breast. The breast and the leftover juices from the pan will be used to make a pasta dish tomorrow, with a courgette that’s waiting in the fridge for that purpose. Now that there’s room in the freezer since I’ve used some of the leeks and mushrooms, I’ll freeze the chicken leg which will be used for a chicken and chorizo paella-style dish. I’ll use one third of the chorizo sausage, and make two more meals with the rest over the next couple of weeks.

Last week I made braised red cabbage to use up what was left of a red cabbage from over a month ago (they last a long time!). I also used an apple that was past its best and half a jar of cranberry sauce leftover from Christmas. There was a small amount of that left, so on Saturday I am going to make a meal of turkey steaks rolled around Christmas stuffing (a packet that we picked up at Sainsbury’s for 20p a couple of weeks ago) and wrapped in bacon - we have four of those in the freezer, which will make two meals. I’ll use some Brussels sprouts from the freezer and a few potatoes left in a bag from last week will make enough roasties for the two of us.

We’ve just had a potato hash for lunch as there were some baby potatoes which needed using ASAP - I brought them home when I last visited my daughters as they weren’t going to use them and I didn’t want them to go to waste. They were sprouting a fair bit so I boiled them up yesterday while I was cooking dinner. Today I sautéed them in butter with some bacon, mushrooms and leeks from the freezer, and two eggs mixed in at the end. It made a very delicious lunch. After I had opened the packet of bacon I realised that another already opened one was hiding under a pile of meat, so to ensure that the previously opened bacon doesn’t go to waste I’ll do us a cooked breakfast tomorrow and find another use for the last few rashers - probably add them to the aforementioned Brussels sprouts. I’ll portion out the newly opened bacon into separate bags and freeze.

I’ve got two ends of a loaf drying out now which I will blitz into breadcrumbs in a couple of days time. That will be used to make pork schnitzel with slices of pork loin from the freezer.

If we ever do have a rare week or two where we lose track of what’s in the fridge or just end up having takeaway a few times or whatever the case may be, we will make up a big batch of minestrone with anything that’s past its best so none of the vegetables/greens/salads go to waste.

Open packets of herbs that aren’t going to be used up within a few days are frozen so that we’ve got a wide range available when needed.

And so on and so forth.

Spotty bananas (even better, properly mushy ones) make the best cakes/muffins/pancakes. It’s just extra sugars.

I’m going to make a banana loaf this afternoon, to use up three of the bananas that have been ripening nicely for the past 4-5 days. Usually I’d use all 4 but I’ll keep 1 to make pancakes with tomorrow. smile

I use lettuces like little gem, romaine lettuce or similar to make braised peas which is a really lovely dish - we usually have ours with shredded leftover chicken warmed through in the stock, over rice.

I use this recipe as a rough guide but I do improvise quite a lot.

For anything like rocket, watercress, baby leaf salads, etc, we use it exactly like greens in minestrone and it’s absolutely fine if it’s well past its best - as long as the leaves are not actually slimey they can be cooked down without any worry at all.

If I’ve got a lot of salad veg to use up, I make a salad with literally everything thrown in, regardless of whether or not it officially goes together. Dress it with a strong and zingy vinaigrette and job done - Because it’s all fresh and crunchy it always tastes really good no matter how seemingly bizarre the mix of veg. I usually add egg & ham/egg & olives/egg & tuna on the side too. Mmmm I’m hungry now...

I freeze cherry tomatoes whole if I’ve ended up with too many, to use for really quick and easy pasta dressing/sauce.

If strawberries are just a bit mushy and not actually mouldy they’re perfectly fine to cook down with a little bit of sugar to make a quick and easy sauce. Let it simmer for a while and use it over pudding/ice cream or in yoghurt, or on pancakes/waffles/French toast.

iloveredwine Sun 22-Mar-20 12:13:42

Leftover rice I use to make egg fried rice with whatever you have onions, sweetcorn, peas bits of meat from the roast

cricketmum84 Sun 22-Mar-20 12:16:11

For leftover cheese - grate and freeze! It actually freezes really well.

cricketmum84 Sun 22-Mar-20 12:21:32

I've also got a pot of soya yoghurt that needs using by tomorrow. So I'm going to make a batch of 2 ingredient flatbreads, cook them and freeze them to use another time. I really can't bear throwing things away!!

hobnobsaremyfave Sun 22-Mar-20 12:27:55

Picking up ideas

Ninkanink Sun 22-Mar-20 12:29:41

Two leftover meals we’ve done this week, both very easy and very delicious, and can be bulked out if needed to stretch further:

Chilli nachos with leftover chilli, and Spanish-inspired chicken pasta with a leftover peri peri chicken breast (these meals are both for two people).

Nachos - cheapest Aldi tortilla chips, leftover portion of chilli, little bit of grated cheddar cheese, served with avocado dressed with lemon, and leftover ranch dressing dip. Garnished with jalapeño slices, fresh red chilli, spring onion from the freezer, coriander and lime.

’Spanish’ Pasta - 1 peri peri chicken breast (plenty of protein for 2 people), 1/2 courgette, 1/3 red pepper, 1 garlic clove, 3 sun dried tomato slices from a jar, tiny bit of tomato purée, smoked paprika, oregano and chilli flakes, sautéed in olive oil plus the leftover chicken jelly from the pan. Bag of salad needed using soon, so half of it went in at the end and wilted down (we’ll have the other half tomorrow in BLTs). Added pasta, a little bit of cooking water and a drizzle of e.v. Olive oil.

Was very tasty. We have taken our portion of pasta down from 100g to 75 pp recently. I have a smaller portion than my DH so it works out about right for each of us.

Other half of courgette will either be used in the next few days or chopped up and frozen, and the red pepper will be used in tuna crunch sandwiches on Monday. Leftover chicken leg has been frozen and will be used to make a chicken and chorizo stew.

TheMemoryLingers Sun 22-Mar-20 12:30:52

Those nachos look gorgeous!

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