How To Use Leftovers

For a nation of food lovers, Australia continues to face a growing problem of food waste.

With $8 billion  worth of food being thrown out every year and food waste accounting for 38%  of all household rubbish, it’s safe to say we aren’t the cleverest of cooks.

Chef and cookbook author Alison Taafe shares her tips on how we can be smarter and more creative in the kitchen and the staples she regularly uses to turn boring leftovers into culinary masterpieces that your family is sure to love:

1) Rice and pasta– Even trained professionals cook enough of these pantry favourites for a small army.

  • Leftover meal ideas: nasi goreng, arancini, pasta bake.

2) Potatoes – Boiled and mashed are the most versatile to reuse.

  • Leftover meal ideas: potato and salmon cakes, potato gnocchi.

3) Meat – Mince (e.g. bolognaise), sausages, steak, roast meat and chicken can adapt in many different forms.

  • Leftover meal ideas: chilli con carne, nachos, thai beef salad, san choy bow

4) Curry – Purists tell you that a curry is much better the day after it has been made as the flavours of the spices intensify.

  • Leftover meal ideas: samosas, curry soup

5) Fruit – A leftover fruit platter from a party or breakfast goes off quickly so you need to move swiftly if you want your fruit to have a second life.

  • Leftover meal ideas: poached fruit for crumbles or pies, smoothies

6) Christmas turkey and ham –The seemingly eternal Christmas leftovers.

  • Leftover meal ideas: turkey enchiladas, croque monsieur, pea and ham soup. 

Important things to remember when cooking with leftovers:

  • Allow hot food to cool before covering and storing in the fridge – if the food is hot when it goes in the fridge it will speed up food spoilage and bacteria growth.
  • Be conscious of the shelf life – use seafood dishes the next day and do not store rice for longer than two days. Pasta, potatoes and vegetables can last up to four days. 
  • When reheating leftovers – make sure it is hot all the way through, above a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius.  
  • There are no leftover leftovers – only reheat leftovers once.  
  • Not all foods can be reused and all have an expiry date. These foods need to be disposed of correctly and responsibly and can be done so with an InSinkErator food waste disposer, which can generate biogas that is used to produce energy.

For more information, visit or to purchase a copy of Alison’s most recent cook book Eat for your Life, visit Sales from the book go to Alison’s charity, ‘Eat for a Cure’ and to date have provided the funds to send five people to Mexico.

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