More ideas to help Reduce food waste

reduce food wasteReasons to reduce food waste

Regular readers will know that I am always looking for ways to reduce food waste. Wasting perfectly good food is like tipping your wages in the bin! It saves money when you reduce food waste. It also seems immoral to chuck perfectly edible items away when so many people don’t have enough to eat.

In addition, there are the environmental consequences. Much food waste ends up in landfill and produces methane gas. It is a crazy waste of our resources to throw away food when you think of the energy expended growing, packaging and transporting it.

Here are some of the steps we take to reduce food waste at Shoestring Cottage.


If you don’t eat much bread, keep it in the freezer and defrost slices as you need them. We only get through a sliced loaf a week so this works for us.

Make croutons and breadcrumbs out of stale bread and crusts. Toast bread that’s a bit stale. Revive day old baguettes in the oven. Make French toast by dipping in beaten egg and frying (this is a good way to use up eggs too!)

Make bread pudding! My favourite recipe for this can be found in this post.


Store your veg correctly. Keep spuds in a cool dark place. However you feel about plastic, I feel that vegetables store best in plastic wrap. If you buy items loose, you could put them into plastic storage boxes with lids so they keep their crunch longer. However, mushrooms are best kept in a paper bag to avoid them going slimy.

Add chopped spring onion tops to mashed potatoes or mix with cheese to fill a jacket spud.

Save your cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and cabbage trimmings to add to soups or make stock.

If you are on your own or have a small family, buying frozen rather than fresh can be a good option. We have started buying frozen peppers, for example.

Freeze leftover veg to thicken soups and stews. Mashed potato is great for this.

I also throw leftover salad items into my soups. No one notices a bit of limp lettuce when it is whizzed up!

Fresh herbs – if you can’t use them in time, try finely chopping them and freezing them with a little water in ice cube trays. You can pop a couple into your recipes as required.


If you don’t use a whole lemon or lime in one go, freeze it in segments to pop straight into your G&T (or sparkling water if you are better behaved). You could also freeze the juice in ice cube trays for when you need it in a recipe.

Dry citrus peels for baking. Chop them up and spread them onto a baking sheet, then put them in a really low oven – about 80 degrees centigrade for around 2 hours. Allow them to cool completely before storing them in a glass container.

Chop up bananas and freeze to use in cakes and smoothies. We always seem to have the odd black banana. I wait until I have 3 or 4 then make banana loaf.

You can freeze chopped bananas for a couple of hours and then put through a food processor for an easy vegan ‘ice cream’.

Cook up wrinkly apples with a little sugar for compotes. These also freeze well. The can be used for crumbles or pies. I also enjoy them with custard or yogurt.

Keep fruit in fridge, especially in the summer. It lasts much longer.

If you have a glut of fruit, make some jam or jelly. There are lots of recipes online. I swear by my ancient copy of the Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables. I am amazed to find this is still available on Amazon new, but you might be able to pick up a second hand copy. As well as jams, it gives clear instructions on pickling and freezing and is a bit of a gem, in my view (this is my affiliate link).


You can refreeze meat if it has been frozen then cooked. However, make sure it is defrosted thoroughly before use and reheat thoroughly. The leftovers from your Sunday roasts are ideal for this.

You can use it in curries, pasta dishes, soups and casseroles.

Everything else

Leftover rice and pasta are great to thicken soups and stews.

Put day old doughnuts in the microwave for 20 seconds to revive them.

Omelettes and quiches are good for using up all kinds of cooked veg, ham, bacon and hard cheeses too.

Risottos are also perfect for using things up. You can chuck in cooked meat, vegetables and herbs.

So many things can be frozen. For example, you can freeze leftover wine for cooking. Hard cheeses can also be frozen. It’s a good idea to grate them first for ease of use.

There is some very good advice on how to safely store food on the NHS website. You might also like to read my post How to Prevent Food Waste – and save money too, about getting organised to reduce food waste.

How do you use up all the odds and ends?


12 thoughts on “More ideas to help Reduce food waste

  1. I have a soup ‘container’ on the go in the freezer all the time. Any leftover raw veggies get roughly chopped and thrown in the container, ditto any jars that are emptied (pasta sauces etc), get swished with a little water and that gets thrown in as well. Eventually you end up with a nice sized container of veggies, that giant veggie ice cube gets put into a pan with couple of handfuls of lentils or split peas, plus couple of stock cubes and some hot water. Stir slowly till defrosted, bring to boil and simmer as per normal for soup, then blitz. Soup for free essentionally, for obvious reasons, known in our house as ‘never the same flavour twice soup!’ I also now freeze mushrooms when I buy them yellow stickered: destalk and chop, open tray freeze and when frozen, put into container and just take out handfuls as required. No need to defrost, cook from frozen. Salad dressings near to use by date get poured into ice cube trays and frozen, get out one or two portions an hour before making a salad and let it defrost, might split a little but just stir it up. Cream cheese can be frozen too, again might split on defrosting but just stir it. Cannot stand food waste, it’s obscene when so many people have so little food.

      • Me too! along with red lentils for may years but now often just as vegie soup. I would have to say that red lentil dhal, made with onion, tumeric, coriander & cumin, was my other mainstay bringing up my last child. We were vegetarian, but it was also for financial reasons. I buy a good supermarket bread and freeze it, just taking out a slice when I need it.

        Some of my upbringing was living with my wealthy Nanna, who had survived, albeit in New Zealand, 2 world wars and the Great Depression. Her habits taught me more about not wasting money, and how to eat well on a budget, than anything else ever did. For example, my white sauce is milk, heated then thickened with cornflour and mustard powder. I prefer home grown silverbeet (chard) to fancy spinach. Thank you, Nanna.

  2. Some wrinkly carrots, dying onions and chicken remains (skin, bones with leftover meat) can go to the chicken stock, which can be later frozen in bricks: put plastic wrap into a square container, pour 1 or 0.5 litre of broth, freeze it, put it into a plastic bag, freeze another batch and store them on one another.

  3. Lots of good ideas!
    Any leftover food (which is rare anyway as I only make enough for those around to eat it) usually gets eaten by either DH or me the next day for lunch.

    I also rarely have wilting veg as I only buy frozen, but when I do have to buy say 4 parsnips or an entire bunch of celery when I only need one, the rest get chopped at the same time and frozen.

    I’m also not adverse to eating stuff way past it’s best/sell by dates either as long as it passes the look & sniff test! Which is why the pot of hummus I’m currently munching my way through was sell by 7th Feb! I only opened it last weekend so will probably do me all of next week too!! 😀

    Mostly our food waste bin is filled with potato peelings, onion skins and the shells of nuts each week! 😀

  4. Frittata. I make lots of these from leftover vegetables (including salad veg like lettuce) ham, bacon, cheese. Beat 4 eggs and mix with herbs. Pour over the leftovers and bake. I often cook a few extra potatoes to slice up for this very purpose. A sprinkle of cheese on top makes it extra nice.
    Any leftover bits of meat such as pork, gammon or chicken got into a freezer container and get chopped up small for pies or pasties when there is enough.

  5. Bit late here as I’ve had no internet connection for a couple of days, but be very careful when microwaving doughnuts as they heat from the inside out so the filling could be boiling and the outside warm. I speak from experience having had a very burnt tongue 🙁

  6. LOL! Reminds me of when we went to Glasgow and I tried one of the the deep fried apple tarts. Pastry, batter, deep fried, what’s not to like. Batter and pastry was fab but the filling was lava hot! Had blister all across the top of my mouth for the rest of the week we were up there.

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