Recipes to tackle the problem of random leftovers

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Growing up, my parents insisted that I learn how to cook. When starting university, they painted a picture of elaborate meals that I should be able to cook off the top of my head. Other family members continued to chime in with their advice and I was packed off to university with many a ‘student cookbook’ in my possession.

As I’m sure many of you now know, however, the reality of student living is not as easy as simply picking a recipe out of a book and creating a masterpiece at the perfect time. When deadlines, extra curriculars, late nights, and sharing your kitchen with up to 12 others are factored in, the joys of the ‘fridge surprise’ paired with whatever pasta you have lying about becomes a staple meal and has consisted of my diet since the moment I flew the nest and began to fend for myself.

Yet even these weird concoctions can leave your fridge looking sad and empty, with only the odd half of a wilted pepper and a Tupperware box full of last night’s leftovers. The reality for many of us is that this can lead to a lot of good food being wasted and, as a demographic that can’t afford to waste money, being more conscious about how much food we consume and throw away is an important way of looking after the pennies.

To combat this wastage, I have gathered a few old recipes perfect for leftovers that should help prevent you from throwing away that odd carrot that’s been lying about for days.

Home Made Soup

Serves approx. 5 bowls (dependent on amount of leftovers).


-1 Tsp olive oil

-1 Onion, finely chopped

-Tinned green lentils

-ANY leftover vegetables that you have available (suggestions include leftover peas and carrots, peppers, courgettes, potatoes etc)

-ANY stock cube, added to ¾ pints of boiling water

-Tomato Puree

-Tinned chopped tomatoes

-ANY mixed herbs you like

-You may also like to include any meat leftovers in your fridge, pre-cooked. A handful or two of pasta, pre-cooked.

Method: Add the oil to a pan and heat over a low temperature. Add in the onion and fry until soft.

Next, grab a saucepan and add the onions, chopped vegetables, the mixed stock cube water, the green lentils, the tomato puree and tinned chopped tomatoes. If you have any small amounts of pasta or rice left in your cupboard you may also wish to add this. Mix in your herbs and seasonings as you please (paprika and cayenne pepper if you would like a kick). Place this on medium heat and let cook.

Once the soup has cooked through, add the left-over peas and any precooked meat to bulk it out.

If, at this point, your soup is looking too thick, you can add some more stock mix (another cube) or even just a little water to thin it out.

This quick and easy recipe is the key for using all those sad vegetables left over and that handful of pasta that isn’t quite enough to a make a meal. separate leftover soup into tubs and freeze for those moments when you need to heat up something quickly.

Pair with a nice crusty roll from Co-op (that can be purchased from 40p) and you have a great dinner to warm you up and provide some of those nutrients needed for immune protection during the colder months.

If you try any of these recipes out, send us a picture of how you got on; get in touch at @inquirekent on Instagram.

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