The best way to use your leftovers


Did you know that wasted food costs the average British household between £250 and £400 per year? That works out at anything up to £24,000 in a lifetime! As well as the financial cost, more and more people are concerned about the environmental costs of food waste. While some local authorities collect food waste for composting, the energy that goes into the production of food can never be reclaimed.

When I was a student, leftover food was not an issue. Any takeaway curry left unfinished, or post-pub pizza not eaten became the next day’s breakfast. Now that I’m older and cook for a family I am more careful about eating a balanced diet. There is still room for a takeaway treat within that diet, but we don’t always finish the whole meal. So what to do with the leftovers?

The obvious answer is to put them in the fridge. Food safety experts suggest that leftovers should be refrigerated quickly and kept for no more than four days. If you are not sure whether you will eat them in four days, then you should freeze them as soon as possible. Whether you refrigerate or freeze the key is to not leave food in “the danger zone” (between 4 and 60 Celsius, where bacteria can thrive) too long, and to use food-safe containers. Food packaging UK options are varied, many takeaways no longer use the old-fashioned foil and cardboard containers but instead serve in plastic tubs which customers can reuse to refrigerate, freeze, and even re-heat in the microwave. I even wash mine for use as sandwich boxes. Visit SystemPak to find out more.

What if you don’t want to have the same meal twice in a week? There are lots of great ideas on the internet for using up leftovers, for example there are universal recipes that can turn any leftover into a stir fry or casserole. You can also combine most leftover takeaway meals with something starchy like mashed potato or polenta to make tasty croquettes. Or you could eat with a leafy salad for a guilt-free version of your favourite. Alternatively, you could freeze individual portions with cooked rice so you have your own ready meals for when time is tight.

As well as saving money, by using up your leftovers you will be helping the environment. And best of all, you get to eat takeaway more than once a week!

David Dom

The author David Dom