Upcycling Your Leftovers: A How-To Guide

This is guest article from the 1 Million Women community by Larissa Shashkof

Challenge yourself to cut down on food waste! It's a great way to save money and give your family a quick meal option without having to visit the shops.

I love the challenge of transforming leftovers into a delicious meal. It is satisfying to look into the fridge and challenge yourself to use what you have without needing to visit the shops or order takeaway.

Each year, Australians throw out $8 billion dollars worth of food. Half of which actually ends up being sent to landfill. So next time you think you have nothing in the kitchen take the upcycling challenge and create something with your leftovers and odd ingredients.

Step one is to identify your leftovers and any ingredients that need to be used in the next couple of days. Take them out of the fridge and pantry and place them on the bench top. Just like the television shows where chefs are given a basket of odd and unique ingredients you can create something that looks and tastes great.

Here are some great recipe ideas to get you inspired!

Roast veggie lasagne

Find all the vegetables hidden at the bottom of the vegetable crispier. Even the ones that probably should have been used last week can be transformed in this recipe. Chop up all your vegetables and place them onto a baking dish. I have used everything including zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn cobs, capsacisums and onions. Add a splash of oil and season. Bake for 40 minutes or until nicely browned.

Whilst the vegetables are roasting prepare a basic white sauce with cheese. Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk to the pan, stirring constantly. Simmer and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add any variety of leftover cheese to the sauce.

Once the vegetables have roasted place them into a large bowl and add tinned tomatoes (pasatta or pasta sauce could also be substituted) and fresh or dried herbs. You can also add spinach or baby spinach at this stage. Stir all ingredients until well combined. Spoon some of the tomato/vegetable sauce into the base of an ovenproof dish. Layer with lasagne sheets. Scatter with half of the vegetable mix. Repeat this layering one more time with lasagne sheets and vegetables. Spoon the cheese sauce over the final lasagne layer. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

READ THIS NEXT: Germany's zero waste supermarket and why we love it

1 Million Women is empowering women and girls around the world to lower their impact on the planet. If you love what we do, please support our work by donating a couple of dollars. For the price of a cuppa, you can help us inspire millions more! (click to donate)

Fried Rice

This recipe comes from my mum who use to make fried rice once a fortnight usually the on the eve of our next grocery shop. Mum would cook up a couple of cups of brown rice for this recipe but it also works well with leftover take out rice.

Prepare a mix of chopped vegetables like onions, shallots, garlic, ginger, carrots, corn, zucchini, spinach, kale, peas, beans and mushrooms. You can use whatever vegies you have including leftovers, fresh, frozen or tinned. Find your condiments like sesame oil, soy sauce, chilli sauce, rice vinegar. And don't forget the eggs or tofu for some protein. Make a well in your pan of rice and crack the eggs directly into it, stirring and working it into the rest of the rice mixture as you cook until just set.

Vegetable Pancakes

Cooking up pancakes is one of the most satisfying ways of using use vegetables on the brink of having to be tossed. All you need is the vegetables, pancake batter and whatever savoury toppings you have in the fridge. If you use vegetables that have a lot of water in them (like zucchini or spinach), you'll need to decrease the amount of liquid you use in the pancake batter. You can grate raw potato, sweet potato and pumpkin into the batter or use leftover roast vegetables. Herbs, whether they are from the garden or leftover from your latest meal can also be a great addition. Our favourite toppings include yoghurt, grated cheese, sour cream, chilli sauce, chutney and pesto.

Get some more inspo:

10 perfectly good food scraps you're probably throwing away

How to turn food scraps into cleaning material

Your ultimate guide to composting

READ THIS NEXT: Are Farmers Markets & Food Stalls Better At Avoiding Waste Than Supermarkets?

Larissa Shashkof is passionate about educating for sustainability at home, work and in the community. The mother of three is responsible for developing recycling awareness and education programs at MobileMuster.

Images: Pixabay

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?

Recent Blog Articles