The Best Ways To Upcycle Your Leftovers

So you know food waste is costing you, our farmers and the environment, but you're sick of being spoon fed solutions that are good in theory, but don't work when shit gets real.

We've teamed up with YFM as they gather up the best food waste solutions that work with our social lives. Read on to give food waste the flip!

So you got a little excited and made way too much food, and now you don't know what to do with it all. Let's be real – when you've overdosed on a particular food, you really don't feel like eating it again the next day.

Luckily for you, we've discovered three ways to upcycle those leftovers so you see them as treasure, rather than trash.


Add new or complementing sauces, herbs or spices. Like a good paint job for your living room, these will make your leftovers feel new again with minimal effort. Easy.

Best for:

  • Plain foods or food that is the building block for a dish (eg. cooked pasta).


  • Turning half-eaten dips into THE BEST salad dressings. Simply thin out your dip with some lemon juice or vinegar (depending on what flavour you think will work best), or if you're using quite juicy veges, use the dip as is – it'll actually do much better at sticking to your food and making it damn tasty. Win. Win.
  • Dusting leftover beans/chickpeas with your fave spice mix and baking until crunchy.
  • Adding new herbs or spices to your leftover pasta.
  • Turning fried rice into curried fried rice with a touch of curry paste.


Add new ingredients to turn those bits and pieces into something bellyblowing. Think fresh veggies, toasted nuts and seeds or chickpeas/beans, croutons, eggs. Like a new couch for your living room, this will also bulk out how many people your leftovers can serve.

Best for:

  • That awkward half-meal sized portion or "bits and pieces"/ "odds and ends"
  • Salads, noodles, stews, stir fries, curry sauce and soup
  • Dried out bread
  • Leftover crackers and chips


  • Turning dried out/stale bread into the best french toast, a kick arse salad, and all these other droolworthy eats. If Black Star Pastry can do it, so can you.
  • Roasting left over veg for dipping like carrot sticks and red pepper, or quick-pickling leftover cucumber/celery sticks. Use these to perk up your next salad.
  • Crisping crackers and chips back up in the oven (you can also optionally re-flavour with a dusting of spice mix).


We've saved the best till last. You know you've re-invented when your original leftovers are barely recognisable. Like knocking down a wall in your living room, re-inventing is where all the creative fun times are at. It's when you blitz your roast veg salad into a soup or hummus for example.

Best for:

  • Parts of meals that have been left pretty plain (eg. cooked pasta, dried out/stale bread, veg, mash).


  • Turning pureed soups into the base of a salad dressing or sauce (especially for noodles).
  • Pureeing roast veges and making some in-freakin-credible savoury scones or muffins.
  • This pasta pie. Yes, it is real, try to remain calm. Or for something quicker, hit up the pastatta from the video above.
  • Thickening soups and stews with bread, or making bread sauces (oh heeeey romesco and muhammara).
  • These crazy awesome ideas from Buzzfeed.

Pro tips

  • If you know there are probs going to be leftovers, keep things that'll make your food "sad" separate. For example, serve dressings on the side and it'll be that much easier to re-flavour, re-fresh or re-invent that salad with whatever you have lying around the next day. Keep the crispy stuff well away from the mushy stuff.
  • Store your food like a boss

Header Image credit: Kit Baker

Video: Kit Baker

This article was originally posted on Youth Food Movement. Find more awesome tips from their SpoonLed series here.

READ THIS NEXT: Our top posts for reducing food waste

We're trying to save 8 billion dollars worth of food from going to landfill this year. Will you help us by pledging to be a food lover and eat your leftovers?


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