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10 thrifty recipes to help you cut down on food waste

by Genevieve Halbert

published on 27 January 2020

Let’s face it: not all New Year’s resolutions are created equal. Of course, finally learning to play the ukulele is a really big deal, as is completing 40 minute spin class without wanting to cry and/or throw something at the chirpy instructor. Eating more greens, learning Spanish, really, seriously not watching Love Island this time around – that’s all good stuff. But when it comes to sustainability, our resolutions could have a genuinely profound impact on the world around us. The sustainable food movement has been gathering momentum over the last few years; cutting down on food waste has gone from a secondary concern to a priority for many consumers, while a number of mainstream chefs and food writers have begun to incorporate the principles of sustainability into their cooking. Melissa Hemsley, for instance, has structured her books around flexitarian recipes designed to make the most of what’s in your fridge, while at London restaurant Spring, chef Skye Gyngell runs a three-course “scratch menu” using food that would otherwise have been scrapped.

If you’re feeling inspired by the sustainable food movement and are looking for tips on how to cut down on food waste, look no further. We’ve gathered ten tasty and innovative recipes to help you kick-start your own personal food-waste revolution; it’s good for the planet, and it’s also one of the easiest and most effective ways to downsize your food bill – so you can stick to that strict January budget while you’re at it.

Fridge-Raid Frittata from Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley

Melissa Hemsley's flexible approach to cooking makes her recipes ideal for cutting back on food waste. This frittata recipe is designed to work with whatever forgotten vegetables are lurking in the bottom of your fridge. It makes a delicious brunch dish, and can also be divided up and cooked in a muffin tin for a handy grab-and-go breakfast.

From the book

Melissa Hemsley

Panzanella Salad from Valvona & Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table by Mary Contini

It seems as though every global cuisine includes a recipe designed to use up stale bread – from bread and butter pudding to bread pakoras, it's clear that making the most of your loaf is a universal concern. Panzanella is Italy's contribution: a vibrant salad of stale country bread, ripe tomatoes, and olives. 

Get your copy of Valvona & Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table here.

Creative Crisps from My Zero-Waste Kitchen: Easy Ways to Eat Waste Free by DK Publishing

Transform leftover veg and potato peelings destined for the bin into a healthy and moreish lunchbox snack with this creative crisp recipe. 

Get your copy of My Zero-Waste Kitchen: Easy Ways to Eat Waste Free here.

Singapore Noodles from Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

A thrifty recipe from Jamie Oliver's Save with Jamie, this classic stir fry can be adapted to reflect whatever happens to be lying around your kitchen, from leftover roast meat to suprlus veg. It takes just 30 minutes to make, so it's perfect for a weeknight dinner. 

Get your copy of Save with Jamie here

Chinese Fried Quinoa with Spicy Garlic Sesame Oil from Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feel-good Food by Melissa Hemsley

A speedy recipe which turns leftover quinoa and random bits of veg into a delicious, homemade version of a Chinese takeaway. It takes about 15 minutes to whip up, and the spicy garilc sesame oil is incredibly moreish.

Get your copy of Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feel-good Food here

Pasta Frittata from Jamie's Food Tube: The Pasta Book by Gennaro Contaldo

Last night's pasta might seem like a totally uninspiring prospect, but this frittata recipe is so good you might find yourself deliberately over-doing it on the spaghetti just so you'll have some leftovers to work with. A cheesy wodge of this is a real treat, and makes a great packed lunch.

Get your copy of Jamie's Food Tube: The Pasta Book here.

Shredded Chicken, Carrot & Dill Soup from Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feel-good Food by Melissa Hemsley

The ultimate Monday night comfort food, this one-pot recipe transforms the remains of your Sunday roast into a soothing and nutritious soup. 

Get your copy of Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feel-good Food here.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting from Stirring Slowly: Recipes to Restore and Revive by Georgina Hayden

If your fruit bowl needs clearing out, look no further. Georgie Hayden's recipe for banana cake with peanut butter frosting will transform your sad, brown bananas into something really special. 

Get your copy of Stirring Slowly: Recipes to Restore and Revive here

Bread and Butter Pudding from The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking by Linda Collister

This classic Bake Off recipe makes the most of stale bread, brioche, challah, or barm brack to create a joyously nostalgic dessert. It's delicately flavoured with orange, lemon, and sultanas, and should be served, naturally, with custard.

Get your copy of The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking here.

Croissant Bake from Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook by Roy Levy

Few things can top a traditional bread and butter pudding, but this particular version, made with leftover croissants, might just have the edge. It's a heavenly dessert, but would also work as a lazy Sunday brunch dish.

Get your copy of Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook here


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