Learn a recipe for cooking with leftover food

1 Oct 2022
4 min read

Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint, and saving money. This week: creating a delicious meal from leftovers and scraps you might otherwise throw in the bin.

Did you know the average British family with children throw away £700 of food per year? As shopping bills rise we need to be better at using everything we pay for.

Food scraps in bin

It’s important we buy only what we need and then use the food to its fullest potential

Total food waste in the UK is back to pre-pandemic levels, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) research shows nearly a fifth (19.7%) of groceries are chucked in the bin.

For the sake of our local communities – as well as the planet – it’s important we buy only what we actually need and then use the food we do have to its fullest potential.

The good news is there are many varied and wonderful ways to use food that you may have ever considered.

Potatoes are the single most wasted food but did you know you can sauté leftover potato skins to make a delicious crispy snack?

Vegetable scraps can be used to make hearty soups stuffed-full of nutrients, while leek tops can be cooked until tender and used in place of onions in your favourite recipes.

Food prices are rising so there’s never been a better time to master food scraps recipes

The fabulous Zero Waste Chef has loads of inspiration for cooking with food scraps, so absolutely nothing needs to go to waste.

Soup made with leftovers

Of course, for some, the challenge is less about finding a use for scraps and more about productively using up leftovers in the first place. We’ve all been guilty of bypassing that leftover swede or half can of tuna when making another meal, simply because we’re not sure what to do with them.

But there are resources for that, too. Love Food Hate Waste has a brilliant library of recipes for leftovers – all you need to do is input the ingredients you’ve got to use up, and it’ll give you a huge range of recipe options that can even be filtered by cooking time, dietary requirement and difficulty. Or try creating your own recipes – experimentation is one of the joys cooking, after all.

In the meantime here’s a pumpkin soup recipe to use up the lantern waste at Halloween. We throw away eight million pumpkins every, with half of those used as jack o’ lanterns.




  1. Put the onion, carrots, garlic bay leaf, butter and half the olive oil into a large pan. Cook over a low–medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not coloured.
  2. Add the squash and potato, mix to combine and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Pour in the stock, season well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, half cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook for about 40 minutes until the squash is really tender when tested with the point of a knife.
  3. Pick out the bay leaf and blend the soup until smooth using a stick blender.
  4. Add the cream and a little more stock if the soup is on the thick side, taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as required.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the pumpkin seeds and fry quickly until the seeds start to pop. Remove from the pan.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a swirl of cream and the toasted pumpkin seeds.

The bottom line

Food prices are rising so there’s never been a better time to master food scraps recipes, whether it’s whipping up a tasty snack from vegetable peelings or using cheese rinds in soup for extra flavour. We’re getting better at reducing our food waste, but right now it’s more important than ever that we’re mindful of what we use.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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