The ultimate guide to using up your child’s leftover food
Whether it is cold porridge, uneaten carrot sticks or sandwich crusts, it can be hard to know what you do with your child’s leftover food.
As busy parents, we understand the temptation to just throw it into the bin but at Love Food Hate Waste we believe that every mouthful of food is worth saving.
So what can you do with their half-eaten food? You can try to re-serve it to them, either at a later meal or in a different way, you could eat it yourself or freeze it for another time.
Sometimes it may take a little creative thinking to work out what to do with half-eaten or small amounts of leftovers.
Here are some ideas for what you can do with your child’s leftover food:
Raw vegetables, such as carrot or celery sticks, can be chopped up or added to your dinner. They will work well in a stir fry, pasta or stew, or can be steamed or roasted on their own. They can also be grated or finely chopped and used to make fritters. This will work for other vegetables such as capsicum and cauliflower.
If the vegetables aren’t quite at their best, throw them in a bag in the freezer and use them to make stock.
There are lots of options for cooked vegetables, whether it is steamed broccoli or roasted pumpkin:
- Puree it if you have an infant. If not needed immediately, freeze it in an ice cube tray for later use.
- Mash or finely chop it and put into a sauce or soup
- Incorporate it into other meals like pasta, stew or stir fry
- Use in a frittata
- Make mini quiches or bread cases
- Use as a pizza topping
- Broccoli can be turned into broccoli balls
- Potato cakes – mix mashed potato with almost any leftovers to make potato cakes
- Add it to soups or sauces to thicken them (just use a little and make sure it is well mixed in)
- Freeze it
- Mashed potato puffs
- Potato candy
- If it is something that will last well, put it in the fridge for later. If a bite has been taken out of an apple, cut off the bitten area next time you serve it.
- Pretty much all fruit can be used in a smoothie. If you don’t want to make one right away, save the fruit in a bag in the freezer for the next time you or your child fancies one. It pays to chop the fruit into chunks before you freeze it so you can put it straight from the freezer into your blender.
- Similar to a smoothie, try making jungle gelato.
- Make these fruit bowl buns or use it for other baking. Check out these recipes to use up bananas.
- Add it to jelly or mix it through yoghurt or ambrosia.
- Top it with a crumble
- Serve it for breakfast or dessert
- Add it to porridge or cereal
- Jelly or ambrosia
- Make pasta frittatas – these muffin tin ones are perfect for children
- Add it to the next stir fry, soup, stew or salad that you make
- Freeze it
Cooked rice is safe to eat, providing it has been cooled quickly.
Bread crusts (and bread ends) can be a pesky leftover as you often only have one or two at a time, so it is hard to know what to do with them. We recommend keeping a crusts bag in the freezer and stashing them away until you have enough to make one of these delicious recipes.
Depending on what is in them, they can be toasted – just make sure there are no salad ingredients, like lettuce or cucumber. Leftover sandwiches can also be frozen and then toasted at a later date.
Even sweet sandwiches can be toasted – try peanut butter and banana or a Nutella sandwich.
No one wants to eat cold toast, and it’s not quite the same reheated. Depending on what was on the toast, freeze it and use it to make breadcrumbs.
Soggy cereal sounds pretty unappetising, but you can pour into ice cube trays, freeze it and then add it to your next smoothie (or skip the freezing step if you are going to make the smoothie the same day).
Stale cereal can be toasted in the oven to crisp it up – make sure to store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
- Freeze in ice cube trays and then add them to the next smoothie that you make
- Make frozen yoghurt pops
- Use it to make a pizza base (this works for both plain and sweet yoghurt)
- Freeze in ice cube trays and then add them to the next smoothie that you make.
- Make frozen yoghurt pops
- Serve in a bowl topped with cereal
Make sure it is refrigerated or frozen and then either eaten cold or reheated until piping hot.
- Use on a pizza
- Put it in a sandwich
- Use it to make your own (cheat) sausages
Cold leftover chicken nuggets can be unappetising. One quick way to reheat them is to pop them into a sandwich grill – it will get the outside nice and crispy.
- Put in a sandwich
- Slice and use as a pizza topping
- Reheat and top them with mince to make nachos
- Reheat and top with your favourite toppings e.g. cheese, bacon, gravy, and cook in the oven to make loaded fries
- If you just have a couple, finely chop them and add them next time you are making a soup, stew or casserole
- Make fish and chip pie
- Stale chips can be crisped up in a hot oven
- Make compost cookies
Freeze it in a bag or container in the freezer. Next time you are making a pizza, cheese sauce or macaroni cheese, use it.
Baked goods (cakes, muffins, biscuits etc):
- Freeze them for the next time you need a sweet snack
- Heat them and eat with ice cream for dessert
- Mix through ice cream
- Turn them into truffles
- Make cake pops
- Layer with fruit and custard or yoghurt in small bowls to make individual trifles