How To Love Your Leftovers

Love Your Leftovers on

Photo courtesy of The Love Your Leftovers Challenge

What if I told you I could save you some money – as much as £700 per year – just by helping you to love your leftovers? The delicious dessert above was made entirely with leftovers at The Love Your Leftovers Challenge – you can find out more about it, along with a great scheme to encourage recycling by clicking here.

The average UK family with children throws away over £700 worth of food which has either spoiled or reached its use by day before it can be eaten. Much of this is a result of over-buying, as well as a lack of knowledge about how to preserve food and also how to use up leftovers. This places pressure on local authorities, who spend millions disposing of waste, as well as on the environment.

Here are some ideas to help you avoid food waste, save money and help the environment.

Don’t over buy
Supermarkets encourage us to over buy by offering items ‘three for two’ or ‘buy one get one free’. This is actually a trick to help them increase their margins. Unless you will definitely use the item, it’s no saving to purchase more than you need. Perishable buy one get one free items can be frozen but if the item can’t be frozen or used in time, give it to a friend or if appropriate, donate it to the food bank on your way out of the supermarket.

Keep a tidy fridge

Keep an eye on fresh products and if you feel you won’t be able to eat them by the use by date, pop them in your freezer as soon as you can. Although many items have the wording ‘freeze on day of purchase’ on the packaging, this is not necessary. It’s better to do so if you know you won’t use the item, but unlike what many supermarkets would have you believe, food can be frozen safely up to the use by date unless it shows signs that it has spoiled.

Use your freezer
There are many things you can freeze, including:

Leftover lemons, oranges and limes – Simply slice citrus fruits and freeze flat. Once frozen, transfer to sealed containers. Use to make infused water, garnish soft drinks or perk up a gin and tonic.

Most hard cheeses – Grate the cheese and freeze in airtight containers. Use straight from frozen as a garnish on pasta, pasta bakes and baked potatoes. The cheese melts into hot dishes and tastes the same as fresh.

Bread – Freeze half a loaf of bread so that you have one half to eat now and the rest to toast for later. If fresh bread begins to go dry or stale, grate or process it to make bread crumbs which can then be frozen in airtight containers. You can also make croutons or use leftover bread in bread puddings and breakfast casseroles.

Roast vegetables – Aubergine (eggplant), courgettes, onions, and peppers can be roasted, cooled and frozen in serving size portions. Add to pasta sauces, couscous or rice.

Fresh herbs
 – There are many ways to safely freeze fresh herbs. Click here to find out how.

How to Love Your Leftovers on
Use leftover fruit and vegetables in baking
All the cakes you see in the photograph above can be made with leftover fruits and vegetables. Use leftover butternut squash in my Butternut Pecan Loaf and leftover bananas in my Banana Rum Raisin Cake and my Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake. Leftover sweet potatoes work beautifully in quick bread as well. For more recipes to use up leftover bananas, click here.

Love Your Leftovers Recipes
Cool and chill leftover meat quickly

Leftover meat can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and used in many delicious recipes like the ones pictured above. You can find them by clicking here.

Know the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’
A best before date is just that. In controlled conditions, it has been determined that the product will be best before this date. It’s not necessarily ‘rotten after’. You can generally tell if something is not good to eat just by looking at it and smelling it. Fruit and vegetables should not have best before dates. They should be used as soon as possible as they taste best and are most nutritious when they are fresh. However if fruit is mouldy or ‘off’, you will know just be looking at it!

‘Use by’ dates are generally used for meat, fish and other very perishable items. These should be adhered to as the products may be dangerous if consumed after that date. You can freeze items up to the use by date safely in most cases though.

Using these tips to help you love your leftovers will benefit the environment and help you save money. If you love your leftovers and have more great ideas, please share in the comments!

Shared with Cooking & Crafting with J&J,What’d You Do This Weekend, Best of the Blogosphere

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1291 great articles for us.
April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.
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  1. I actually NEVER have left overs 😉 I love to LOVE my food the first day I make it! ha ha ha!

  2. I just learned about freezing more things this year. Now I even put overripe bananas in the freezer if I don’t feel like making bread with them and take them out at another time. They bake well frozen.

  3. Hi April,
    I love all of these tips for using leftovers. We love leftovers in my house!
    Thanks for joining and sharing this at Cooking and Crafting with J & J.
    We love having you.
    Julie xo

  4. Oh I love leftovers! Pasta is always my fav dish for leftovers…and rice! 🙂

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  5. Fantastic ideas, April! Pinning 🙂

  6. This is such great information, April. We are going to share this with our facebook followers and newsletter subscribers.

  7. GREAT post – so important to buy smart, store well and use what you have. We had dinner at my brother’s house the other day and as we were clearing off the table, my bro tossed all the leftovers in the garbage and said – we don’t eat “old food”! Ahhh! Well, let’s just say we do in our house and sometimes things are even better the next day.

  8. Thank you April for all these tips!!
    I could definitely use some of them

  9. Great tips. We use our freezer a ton for extra food. Thanks for linking up with best of the blogosphere.

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