Tuesday 23 June 2015

How to use up your leftovers

How much food do you waste in your house? Do you always have odd bits of cheese, a few pieces of chicken or a mix bag of veggies left each week that you don't know what to do with.

We all do. In fact, according to the Co-op and their latest Taste It Don't Waste It campaign this month to coincide with Food Wastage month, we waste £12.5 billion on food we buy but just throw away each year with fresh fruit and veg, bakery items and meat and cheese common culprits.

This can equate to as much as £60 a month for a family with children, just being thrown away, quite literally.


I try my best to use up everything we have in any way that we can. Be it using eggs to make a meal out of leftover bits and pieces or putting it all together for a pot luck slow cooker dish, I've shared lots of ideas on how you can turn food that might otherwise go to waste into a meal - read some of my top tips here if you'd like to find out more.

It's not always easy and quite often, if I haven't taken the time to check my cupboards or sit down and properly meal plan, I'll just go out and buy all new fresh food when here's probably plenty I could do with a bit of imagination and thought from what we already have in at home.

So, one of my best tips is to try and get in the habit of keeping a general list of what's in all your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you grab your shopping trolley - you'll be surprised at how few ingredients you might need to make enough for a few days.

One of the best ways to get everything used up before you go shopping again is so have a buffet style dinner. I love a pick and mix style meal, where you pull together all sorts to make a tasty hodge lodge on your plate, and it's also a great way to cater to all tastes in the family too.

We had one of these kinds of meals at the weekend.

You don't need a lot of any one thing to make it work.

Taking some potatoes, cutting them in half and adding some cheese and bacon before baking in the oven, for our take on loaded potato skins - great as a side or for a buffet. I also like scooping the insides out and mixing with chopped veg, like spring onions and peppers, and some leftover cheese before filling the skins back up. It turns even the smallest potato into a worthy meal.

Buttering up some leftover bread (any kind works, really) and adding fresh garlic and a sprinkle of herbs to make some garlic bread.

Making the most of leftover burgers by turning them into something new. You could cut them into small chunks then add tomato sauce and any left over veg, either chopped or grated, to make an alternative spaghetti and meatballs. Or using a small cookie cutter to make the burgers into mini burgers, adding some cheese and a cherry tomato for a bite size buffet option that makes the burgers go further.

I like to use up leftover chilli by taking a big dish, filling it with tortilla chips before spooning over the chilli (doesn't matter if you don't have a great deal left), sprinkling with cheese and then adding salsa / guacamole / salad veg to make it a substantial 'dip in and help yourself' meal. If you only have a little of everything left, this can work a treat and it's a good choice if you're entertaining too.

We had a bit of everything on Saturday night, adding a few leftover chicken goujons to the potato skins and using up leftover salad bits, coleslaw and garlic bread. We could all pick at what we wanted, Ethan included as he always picks off our plates anyway even if he's got his own / has already eaten.

And for pudding, I made another hotchpotch dish. I combined some chocolate mousse desserts with some cookies then sliced fresh strawberries (which we had in for pancakes on Father's Day and for smoothies) and added blueberries, stirring it all together.

You could use those remaining Jaffa Cakes or use Scotch pancakes to make your own kind of layered trifle style dessert - it doesn't matter if it looks a bit messy, it'll taste great. Trust me! You could even scoop back into the original pots for presentation, particularly if you're entertaining.

Looking at what we have left now, there's a couple of rashers of bacon (originally bought for the pancakes), so these were added to the baked potato skins and the last couple can be used to wrap some chicken breasts for another meal; just add my homemade BBQ sauce (using the last of the ketchup and adding Worcester sauce, brown sugar and garlic, before shaking it all together in the original bottle) and the last of the cheese and you have Hunter's Chicken, one of hubs' favourites.

The key to minimising food wastage is to try and plan and to think a bit creatively. If you #LoveFoodHateWaste why not share your ideas by commenting below or following the Co-op and telling them how you limit leftovers?

Read more:

* Thank you to the Central England Co-operative and #TasteItDontWasteIt for giving me inspiration on how to make more of my leftovers.


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