No leftovers left behind! 4 tips and recipes for zero-waste cooking on a budget

Mary Cohenon 20 April 2022
Selection of leftover vegetables

It’s totally possible to eat well without going into your overdraft. These four zero-waste tips and recipes will help you become more thrifty and sustainable.

Ditch the pot noodles and get stuck into these… 

Tinned Beef Stew (<30 minutes)

You open your fridge to find some old not-long-for-this-world veg - maybe an old onion and a couple of stale carrots. Don’t bin ‘em! Boil them up instead.

You can use anything in your instant stew (the point is to use things up) but we recommend keeping a stock cupboard of the following cheap and easy protein sources:

  • Tinned lentils
  • Tinned beans
  • Tinned mince steak / vegetables
  • Tinned potatoes
  • Gravy granules
  • Beef/vegetable stock
  • Cooking margarine (or cheap butter)

Pro-tip: Leftover wine? Don’t tip it down the drain! Pour it into an ice cube tray instead, and use it to liven up this fantastic stew you’re about to make.…

How To Make:

  • Fry up any onions
  • Boil any fresh veg (if you have leftover cooked veg, you can add it later)
  • Don’t tip out the water from your cooked veg! You can use this as stock in your stew
  • In a separate pot, tip in WHATEVER you’ve got in the store cupboard (e.g, stewed steak, lentils, pearl barley, tinned peas, tinned sweetcorn) 
  • Add your stock water to taste
  • Add gravy granules to thicken
  • If desired, add a beef/vegetable stock cube for extra oomph
  • Boil on medium heat for around 30 minutes

And you're done! This hearty stew can feed a LOT of people

Mouldy Banana Bread (<60 mins)

If you’re shopping for one, a bunch of bananas can blacken faster than you can eat them. Don’t bin ‘em! There’s life in these bananas yet. Peel and freeze them instead.


  • 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 190g self-raising flour
  • 60ml milk

How To Make:

  • Melt butter and sugar in a frying pan over medium heat
  • Add your heated butter and sugar to an oven-proof dish
  • Throw in your pre-mashed bananas
  • Add a beaten egg, flour, milk and mix well
  • Bake at 150 C (fan oven) for 45 mins
  • Leave to cool, and enjoy!

Pro-tip: Your banana bread will taste even better with defrosted bananas - they’re mushier!


Quiche A La Leftovers (<40 minutes)

Picture this: you open the fridge to half a tin of tomatoes, an old dried up hunk of cheese, some eggs about to go off, and a scrap of milk.

Time to order takeout? No way! That can make a fantastic quiche!


  • 8oz flour
  • 4oz cooking margarine
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • Grated cheese
  • ANY leftover veg (we recommend pre-fried mushrooms, pre-fried bacon, sweetcorn, and tinned tomatoes)

How To Make:

First, you’ll need to make the pastry. We promise it’s not too tricky.

  • With clean fingers, crumble margarine into the flour until it looks like bread crumbs
  • Add a dash of water and stir the mixture until you see it sticking together
  • Shape the mix into a ball and roll flat onto a clean, floured surface
  • Use the pastry to line an oven-proof dish
  • Add any leftover veg (pre-fried if necessary) along with grated cheese
  • Whisk eggs and milk in a separate bowl, then add pour over mixture
  • Cook on 180C for 30 minutes

Pro-tip: If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a water bottle (or a beer bottle, as long as it's clean!)

Microwave Eggs & Reheated Chips (<15 mins)

This recipe is great if you’re low on oil or in a rush to get to lectures.

Pro-tip: Don’t bin your leftovers from the chip shop - they’ll be crispy and delicious if you freeze and reheat!

How To Make:

  • Reheat chips at 200C for 10 minutes
  • Crack an egg into a small microwavable bowl and microwave for <1 minute (don’t be alarmed if you hear a bang - that’s your egg popping!)

Voila. Egg and chips. No oil. No mess. No fuss.

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Mary Cohenon 20 April 2022