The art of improvisation in the kitchen

The art of improvisation in the kitchen

Save money and help the planet by avoiding food waste. Turn yesterday’s leftovers into to-morrow’s deliciously simple meals with these tips.

Everyone hates seeing good food go to waste. Yet we do it all the time: almost half of all the food in British homes ends up in the bin. It’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for our budgets, costing families up to £700 a year. Experts estimate that if all that food waste could be eliminated, the environmental benefit would be as great as taking one in four cars off the road.

But no matter how careful you are, there’s always bound to be food left over sometimes. So finding creative ways of reusing it is vital. Follow these suggestions for freshening up yesterday’s food in new and appetising ways.

Leftover veggies can easily make a delicious soup. All you need is a little butter or olive oil, some stock and the vegetables. For a richer, more interesting soup, add aromatics like onion, garlic and leeks and fresh herbs or spices. Simply chop up your vegetables and aromatics, then slowly brown them in the butter or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add spices or any dried herbs now. Then add your stock and simmer, with fresh herbs if you have them. After about half an hour, the soup should be ready. Check the seasoning and puree if preferred.

Add the pasta to the sauce at the last minute, when you know just how much everyone wants. This way, any unused pasta can be kept and added to a new sauce the next day or used in a bake. It’ll taste just as good as if it had been made freshly. And since the sauce is all new – bolognese one night, carbonara the next – no one will know that they’re eating leftovers.

Mix mashed potatoes with smoked haddock, trout or salmon to make a delicious fishcake – using up two leftovers in one. Or you can mix with flour and egg to form gnocchi. Leftover mash can form a thickener for soups, like a classic leek and potato soup or seafood chowder. Alternatively, there’s always the old favourite: fry up crushed leftover potatoes with greens for bubble and squeak.

Every culture that eats bread has recipes for using up stale crusts, so you’re spoilt for choice. Try a traditional bread and butter pudding by layering buttered stale bread with sultanas and cinnamon, then pouring over custard, sprinkling with nutmeg and sugar, and baking until golden brown. For a savoury option, try Spanish migas. Fry garlic with chorizo and bacon in olive oil, then add cubes of stale bread along with sweet smoked paprika. Fry for another five minutes, stirring continually. Serve with a fried egg on top.

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Boiled Ham stock

Heathermisst 17/07/2016

After boiling your ham or gammon don't waste the stock, as it makes a fabulous base for lentil and sweet potato soup; a hardy meal for any time of the day especially if you add you left over ham from the night before.

Spagetti Bolognese

Heathermisst 17/07/2016

Left over bolognese sauce can make a taste lunch warmed and put into pitta pockets or spice it up with some kidney beans and chilli's turn it into another evening meal served with rice and garlic bread

Stale bread use

JoJo 14/07/2016

Take the tired fruit from the bowl, chop and stew lightly - sweeten afterwards with honey if needed. Take stale bread slices, butter one side and sprinkle with demerara then cut into cubes. Put the fruit in an oven dish and the bread on top. Finish with a little more demerara and bake. As good as crumble. Use cinnamon, ginger and nuts to spice it up. Great with ice cream or custard.

What tasty ideas

lynda658 06/07/2016

I read your item about using up leftover pasta, veg, or indeed bread! They all sound delicious. My 22 year old daughter has gone on a 2 week cruise on the new Brittania, leaving me at home with a fridge full of deteriorating foods! You have inspired me to dive in and create some delicious meals with this array of fresh Ingredients... Watch this space for photos!! Regards Lynda

slow cooker


I find my slow cooker a god send when there are bits and pieces left in the fridge or freezer. Also makes meat go a long way . A couple of chicken fillets ,few tomatoes that have seen better days , peppers left from a salad , courgette going soft . You get the idea !Just add few herbs and garlic ,leave on low while you are at work or busy in the home. Toss in some fresh pasta and bingo a winning dish everyone will eat and all using food you had or were going to bin .

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