Cooking with leftovers: 10 tips from the pros

Food is far too good to throw away. Cooking with leftovers works perfectly – quickly, easily and deliciously! 10 tips and lots of recipe ideas from the BRIGITTE kitchen, from vegetable soup to poor knight.

Cook with leftovers – and never waste food again

81.6 kilograms of food: that’s how much every German throws away on average per year, one found study on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Consumers. Overall end up alone households throw 6.7 million tons of food in the garbage every year.

It doesn’t have to be: After all, food wasn’t just expensive – estimates are the avoidable food waste is worth 235 euros per capita per year. You can also cook with leftovers, and it can be done quickly, easily and deliciously!

Marion Swoboda from the BRIGITTE test kitchen says: “I don’t like to throw anything away, so it was a little challenge for me to think about what I could do with it at first. Today I love leftover fruit and vegetables because they keep me coming up with quick, creative ideas bring.” We have put together ten tips – for fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta, rice and more – so that you don’t throw away food in the future, but can cook with leftovers. And for every tip there are also recipe ideas.

1. Vegetables

A few carrots are still shriveling in the fridge and the peppers have seen better days? These leftovers are the perfect basis for a vegetable soup: just cut everything into small pieces, cook and fill up with vegetable broth.

If you like, you can add frozen herbs and soup noodles. And if there are any boiled potatoes left over from the day before, they can also end up in the pot. If there are not enough fresh vegetables left to fill everyone, you can add a can of beans, chickpeas or frozen peas to the soup.

If you are unsure how it works, it is best to have a look at one of our recipes, for example the pearl barley soup with vegetables or the vegetable soup with pesto. For a cream soup, just add milk or cream and puree everything with the hand blender – as with the paprika cream soup.

By the way: vegetable soup is also great to freeze!

2. Fruit

Why throw away overripe fruit? They’re great to use in a pancake. All you need is eggs, flour, milk and sugar.

Whether apples, bananas, pears or berries: Pancakes taste great with all kinds of fruit. First clean the fruit carefully and cut into slices if necessary. Put the batter for a pancake in a hot pan with clarified butter, add the fruit and finish baking the pancake over low heat. Here you will find recipe variations for blueberry pancakes and apple pancakes.

If you want to preserve leftover fruit, you can cook a chutney, for example. All you need as the basic ingredients are fruits, vinegar and sugar. Onions, garlic and spices make the chutney more interesting in terms of taste. For inspiration, take a look at how we cook a mango chutney from a mango!

And another fruit idea: clean the fruit and puree with the hand blender – a lightning-fast smoothie is ready. If you don’t like it too thick or have little fruit left, fill up with mineral water. A delicious example of this way of using leftovers is our pineapple smoothie.

3. Rice

Leftover rice makes a good addition to soup. Simply put the rice in the soup plate and pour the boiling hot soup over it. That’s enough to heat the rice. Delicious, for example, with tomato soup!

If you don’t feel like soup, you can also process the cold rice into a rice salad – for example with canned corn, frozen peas, olives or anything else in the fridge, pantry and freezer compartment. Our recipe for rice salad with date dip provides some ideas.

4. Pasta

Cooked noodles quickly clump into a sticky ball in the pot. You can still eat it the next day with the following trick: Simply throw the cold noodles into boiling water and let it steep for ten seconds. This works best if the pasta was al dente beforehand, because heating it up makes it a little softer. A quick leftover lunch with a sauce.

You can find three simple recipes for pasta sauces here – tomato sauce, cream sauce and olive and herb sauce: Pasta with 3 sauces.

5. Potatoes

Boiled potatoes are a good basis for a hearty farmer’s breakfast. For two servings, whisk four eggs and four tablespoons of milk and season the egg milk with salt and pepper. Cut the potatoes into slices and fry them with clarified butter in a pan. Pour the egg milk over it and let it set. The right recipe for this is, for example, our farmer’s breakfast of new potatoes.

And of course, boiled potatoes are perfect for crispy fried potatoes!

6. Bread

Stale white bread can be easily transformed into poor knights: whisk 100 milliliters of milk, an egg and a packet of vanilla sugar, dip the bread slices, drain them and fry them until golden in a pan. Applesauce from the glass, for example, tastes good with it.

If you like it a little more refined, you can also serve poor knights with wine foam sauce or poor knights with strawberry salad.

You can also just let stale white bread dry and grate it finely later. With the homemade breadcrumbs you can bread schnitzel, tie sauces, make a crispy crust for casseroles and much more.

7. Pastries

Remnants of yeast plaited and brioche become tasty again as an oven loaf – this bread casserole is especially popular in southern Germany. Here you can find a recipe for apple oven hats.

8. Meat

If there are leftovers from the roast, you can cut the meat thinly the next day and place it on the bread.

If you like it more sophisticated, you can also serve the roast slices with mayonnaise, tartar sauce or herb quark and serve with a salad – as in this recipe for potato salad with horseradish mayonnaise and roast beef.

9. Herbs

Fresh herbs don’t last long. Before leftover herbs wilt, make a herbal quark out of them: Wash the herbs, chop them and stir into the quark. The quark tastes good with bread, jacket potatoes or wedges, for example. A mix of yoghurt, sour cream and quark is even fresher – as in this recipe for herb quark with potato wedges.

Fresh herbs can also be frozen: Put the chopped herbs in ice cube trays and fill up with a little water. So you always have ready-portioned herb cubes at hand, with which you can refine soups and sauces, for example. You can find more tips in our article on freezing herbs.

10. Tomatoes

You can cook a tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes and boil it down or freeze it. If you want to process larger quantities at once, you should try our recipe for tomato concentrate.

Another idea is dried tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes into slices, season with salt, pepper and herbs as desired and leave to dry in the oven at 120 degrees for at least two to three hours. When placed in oil, the sun-dried tomatoes in twist-off glasses have a long shelf life and are a nice gift. They taste good in salads and pasta, for example.