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Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted. According to the data by the UN Environment Programme, every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).

The numbers are hard to wrap your head around. But think of the last time you threw away that lonely avocado that sat there on a windowsill for eternity, desperate for its moment to shine in guacamole, only to end up in a bin. Then, picture all the products that ended up discarded only because you forgot they existed. Sometimes, however, we stock up on so much food we never manage to eat, and this is also the reason we contribute to worldwide food waste. It’s kind of shameful.

Being careful with grocery shopping and thinking of how much food is enough for your needs is one way to tackle the problem (and save money!). Another way is to use your ingenious skills and make the best use of anything that’s left after you ate or just purposelessly sits in the fridge.

So when someone asked “Everyone knows about using stale bread for french toast or yesterday’s rice to fry, but what are some other recipes you can use to save ingredients from the trash?” on the Cooking subreddit, people started sharing awesome ideas of putting scraps to use. We wrapped up some of the most useful and yummy ones below for you to try out!

#1

People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Old bananas make for an absolutely glorious milkshake with only ice and vanilla.

Old onions are best suited for making fried onion rings.

Old peaches can be easily turned into a syrup liqueur which can bring a cocktail from "alright" to "if I keep drinking this sh*t I'm going to wake up in a hammock 3 miles from my house."

twotwentyone , flickr Report

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    #2

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Overproofed pizza dough into focaccia, stale foccacia into croutons, croutons into breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs into meatballs.

    joshuasachs , pixabay Report

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    #3

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best I like to caramelize too-ripe bananas sliced in butter. Then I sprinkle them in some brown sugar and a tiny bit of salt. Oh boy — they're amazing on their own or on top of a scoop of ice cream.

    justmissliz , flickr Report

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    CanadaGoose
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I sprinkle them with granulated sugar and roast over a campfire! It’s good, try it!

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    To find out exactly how much food goes to waste in the UK, and what can we do to reduce food poverty, as well as some simple ways to give food new life, Bored Panda reached out to Fiona Hollis, the Head of Communications at City Harvest. City Harvest is a food redistribution charity in Action London that rescues food, people and planet, delivering free food worth £6,000 a month to 350+ charities across Greater London.

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    While 1 in 4 people experiences food poverty in London, UK households waste 6.5 million tons of food every year. Households waste 70% of total food waste in the UK. Almost £1.2 billion worth of fruit, vegetables and bread are binned in the UK every year. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 people claim they don’t know what to cook with random food.

    #4

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best You can shock old vegetables in ice water to restore their crispness. Stuff like celery, greens, peppers, etc that hasn't gone bad but has kind of lost its stiff/crisp texture. 2-3 minutes in ice water and it'll be like new. GAMECHANGER

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    A
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I do this with limp broccoli and cauliflower. I put them in a bowl with water and ice cubes. I put the bowl in the fridge overnight and they're perfect the next day.

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    #5

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Soup. Soup. Soup. I'm no historian but as the primary cook in the house, I'm fairly certain that soup was invented in order to not waste valuable calories.

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    #6

    I use french fries I bring home with restaurant leftovers to make ersatz hashbrowns. Dice them, add some chopped onion and fry up in bacon grease.

    I've never found french fries palatable as leftovers, if I didn't have this technique available I'd never bother bringing them home from the restaurant.

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    When asked about the dangers of food waste, Hollis explained that landfill-bound food waste, either commercial or domestic, emits harmful GHG emissions, such as methane, largely contributing to climate change. “Not only does the waste product at the end of the UK food supply chain warm the planet with methane emissions, but the extensive energy used in farming, manufacturing, and transporting goods, as well as the vast amounts of water it takes to get food to our plates,” she said and added that a lot of resources, energy, and labor go into the food we eat.

    Reducing the household’s food waste would give a significant boost to your bank balance. In fact, Hollis said that for an average family with children, approximately £700 a year of wasted household food could be saved.“During the first lockdown,” Hollis said, “there was a sharp decrease in reported levels of food waste, thanks in part to the food management behaviors people adopted during lockdown.”

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    #7

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Leftover mashed potatoes into tater cakes or pierogies.

    Runbunnierun , flickr Report

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    wendillon avatar
    Monday
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    What is this "leftover" you speak of? Do you mean to tell me you don't gorge yourself until there is nothing left of those smashed spuds?

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    #8

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Bacon grease is indispensable. Use it to fry anything, but know you haven't lived until you've swapped it for butter to make the best-ever chocolate chip cookies.

    ajmojo2269 , flickr Report

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    therealpandazog avatar
    Blurryface
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I’m torn… that’s either a really good idea, or the worst idea I’ve ever heard about both bacon and chocolate chip cookies.

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    #9

    I'll introduce you to a Romanian dish called "Shut up and Eat"(no,really,that's the name of the dish."Taci si înghite" ).

    In my region it is eaten before the beginning of Lent. Since Christian orthodox basically go full vegan during our fasting times,we had to consume the animal products that were left from the winter. Thus, Taci si înghite was born.

    It's basically a polenta cooked with milk instead of water, a lot of butter and cheese. Then,stick it in a deep baking dish and throw on top of it any other cheese and meat you have left in your fridge and you want to eat before they go bad. Bake it untill the meat is cooked.

    Eat this with some pickles and a light, red sour wine. Enjoy

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    Hollis also shared a couple of simple and very useful tips for giving food another life. First method is pickling. “It’s easy to pickle fresh veg that might be on the turn using a few store cupboard staples (vinegar, seeds, and spices). Great veg to pickle: radish, cucumber, courgette, onion, cauliflower,” she said.

    Another great way of cooking from scraps is preserving. Think of jam, it’s “the solution to any fruit on its way out. You don’t even need to buy specific jam sugar, just caster sugar and a big squeeze of lemon. (This adds pectin⁠—to help the jam set).”This one you may already be practicing. It’s freezing! Hollis suggests freezing your discarded bits of fruit and vegetables for smoothies or soups is an easy win and quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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    #10

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Recently had some stale olive bread. Was sad I couldn’t make French toast with olives in it…

    Solution: savory French toast. Was amazing! Egg dip included herbs and salt. Topped with Fig balsamic and olive oil. Loved it and plan to make again!

    Jen9095 , flickr Report

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    Lousha
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Hungarian here, I was horrified when I first discovered that people in other parts of the world put sugar and cinnamon on their "bread in coat" . For us it's a comfort food, you dip the bread into salted eggs, fry them in a ton of oil and eat them on their own as dinner, coupled with some nice hot tea with lemon and sugar, or use it as a non-meat topping on vegetable stews.

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    #11

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best When cherry or grape tomatoes start to get all pruny, I like to sauté them with garlic and herbs until blistered. Top with lemon juice and it’s a great side or appetizer.

    briecheddarmozz , flickr Report

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    troufaki13
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I usually make them into tomato sauce, make it into portions and freeze them.

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    #12

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best You can save overripe bananas for banana bread.

    Or freeze them for 6 months and toss, your choice.

    Naptimeis4ever , flickr Report

    If you have stale bread resting on the counter, here are some great reusing solutions. It’s excellent for breadcrumbs “for making meatballs, topping pasta, frying, gazpacho⁠—these can even be used for desserts, like treacle tart!” Another great recipe for stale bread is panzanella salad (tomatoes, veg, mozzarella, dressing to moisten fat croutons of stale bread). Also, it’s great for croutons that go in soups and salads.

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    #13

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best A friend's Grandmother used to take stale bread, cover it in butter , cook it in the oven until it was super crispy. It was amazing. the only thing I can compare it to is a crouton. We ate it as snack. Really crunchy and crisp.

    Golden-Years , flickr Report

    #14

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best No one is going to notice those peppers are a little soft and wrinkly if you roast them.

    ajmojo2269 , flickr Report

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    Caro Caro
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I love this. When cooled take off the skin. Put the peppers in some olive oil. Great with prosciutto and crusty bread..

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    #15

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best My favorite way to use leftover food is to take day-old vegetables and mashed potatoes and fry them up into the classic British recipe bubble and squeak.

    So named because it bubbles, and squeaks, in the frying pan as it cooks.

    Rynu07 , flickr Report

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    Wang Zhuang
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    This is the first time in my entire 41 years of life that I have ever heard of bubble and squeak. This dish sounds like the name of a car wash.

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    Hollis said that bananas are the most wasted food item in the UK. But here are some great tips to reuse them. She suggests “Banana pancakes (just egg and ripe banana⁠—add some cinnamon, too); banana bread (boring); banana skin as vegan meat alternative (shredded⁠—similar to pulled meat effect⁠—jackfruit).”

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    Moreover, “Vegetable leftovers, even onion and garlic skin, can be boiled up with salt and other vegetable scraps to make a delicious stock. Vegetable stock is so versatile and can be used for: flavorsome soups, stews, risottos, and pies,” Hollis suggested.

    #16

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best I'm not sure if this is a revelation to anyone, but eat the greens that come on your beets and radishes! They are delicious. I especially love beet greens, similar but even better than chard imo. When I buy beets now I feel like I'm getting a 2 for 1 vegetable.

    SeeingEyeB , flickr Report

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    firewolf3427 avatar
    CanadaGoose
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    My grandma plants these and we eat the greens! They’re really good!

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    #17

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best This one is a game changer…. Got stale bread? Briefly run it under the tap (only is there is a lot of crust showing) and throw it in the oven at 400 for like 7 mins or until stuff evaporates. Works absolute wonders for no knead bread. I imagine you can do this with sliced bread just maybe spray water instead.

    KeySheMoeToe , flickr Report

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    FloC
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Horses are going to be so disappointed if there is no stale bread left.

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    #18

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Mealy and bruised apples make nice apple sauce. I put applesauce on my morning porridge.

    impossiblejane , flickr Report

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    Catherine Binder
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    They also make for good cobbler, as does any wrinkly stone fruit and/or over ripe berries.

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    In order to reduce food waste, you may want to clean out your cans. “When making anything, from pasta sauce to chili con carne, if you use something like tinned tomatoes, swill out the can with water/olive oil/stock to get the very last drop out of everything.” If you still haven’t got one at home, a rubber spatula makes an amazing tool to rescue food. Hollis explained that “this is the ultimate zero-waste utensil that will remove even the smallest trace of food from any mixing bowl or saucepan⁠—ensuring it all gets used/eaten.”

    #19

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Leftover cooked vegetables make a killer hash or frittata.

    Leftover cooked rice becomes rice pudding just by heating one part rice, one part milk (and whatever sweeteners or flavors you want) on the stove in a pot until it thickens to where you like it.

    mintbrownie , flickr Report

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    #20

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Saving parmesan rinds for soups and sauces.

    Illegal_Tender , pixabay Report

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    carolyngerbrands avatar
    Caro Caro
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Yep! Just toss the rind in with the sauce and it adds flavour. Never waste cheese :)

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    #21

    Cauliflower leaves. Chop them up to smaller bits, put in a pan with a knob of butter. I like to add some garlic too. Then fry until they're crispy and you have either a really tasty snack as it is or it can be tossed to a salad. Really delicious from something you wouldn't think of using normally.

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    findkenj avatar
    You kidding me
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Too bad most of the cover leaves are removed before they sell them at the market.

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    #22

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Leftover fish - make fish cakes.

    In general I find leftover cooked fish to be pretty gross and very difficult to reheat in any way that makes it still enjoyably edible (and doesn’t make everyone hate you for putting fish in the microwave). But you can just flake up the fish and toss it in any “crab cake” recipe you like, and it’s seriously good!

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    Russ Kincade
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Especially salmon.  Mix catsup & horseradish for cocktail sauce and you have a winner!

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    #23

    I use leftover mashed potatoes to make gnocchi. Just add egg, flour, and salt, and you've got homemade potato dumplings ready to be boiled and served with your favorite sauce.

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    You kidding me
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I did this last night for the first time, after cooking them, threw them in a pan with container of chicken soup from Costco, was a hit with family.

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    #24

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Alton Brown calls quiche refrigerator velcro, and he's not wrong. Almost any savory item, fresh or leftover, can be worked into a quiche, or a frittata.

    scottvs , flickr Report

    #25

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best I like to turn leftover Bolognese into a filling for wraps. So instead of having it three days in a row, I'll repurpose it to switch things up a bit.

    So day 1 I'll make Bolognese sauce for pasta (completely inauthentic using ground beef and everything), and day 2 I'll add a can of tomatoes, two cans of beans (kidney or black beans), corn and bell peppers. Seasoning with garlic, chili and cumin overpowers the original Bolognese-taste and turns it into something closer to a chilli. Cook until thickened a bit. The sauce is enough to serve 3 people for 2 days.

    We use that mix as a filling for wraps and serve it fresh with lettuce (to prevent sogginess), a blob of Creme Fraiche, grated cheese of choice, spring onions and cherry tomatoes.

    It's also a great way to cut down on meat, as it makes 1 lbs of ground beef last for 3 days worth of meals, yet you still get plenty of protein and veggies.

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    Donkey boi
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    When I make Bolognese, I make enough for 8 people. My wife has a portion and I have 7 portions. I don't understand how there could ever be Bolognese left over?

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    #26

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Bits and bobs of cheese for quiche or fromage forte.

    Schackshuka , flickr Report

    #27

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best Leftover bread to thicken soup & sauces.

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    Caro Caro
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    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Or make pangratto. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/orecchiette-cavolo-nero-anchovies-pangrattato

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    #28

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best If you peel some shrimp, save the shells for seafood stock. Same goes for lobster, mussel, etc shells, fish bones/heads and stuff like that. Freeze it and mix it all together for great seafood stock.

    Thirty_Helens_Agree , flickr Report

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    #29

    Italian fun fact: Arancini was leftover risotto and the ragu/bolognese or cheese on the inside was usually leftover as well.

    Those little cheesy rice balls were my life growing up!

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    #30

    People Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Giving Leftovers A New Life, Here Are 30 Of The Best There is a spanish dish following this exact logic, it's called 'ropa vieja' (old clothes).

    You make it with leftover cocido (chickpea stew, it is usually drained and eaten dry/semi dry, and the resulting broth used in soup later). Add some onion for extra flavour and cook it in a pan.

    AlexMcTx , flickr Report

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    Wang Zhuang
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    But doesn't ropa vieja usually include shredded chicken or some other meat?

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    Note: this post originally had 72 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

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