Using leftovers: Our Top Tips

Through FoodCloud, Tesco donates surplus food to charities within their communities, food that is perfectly fit for human consumption but cannot be sold for a variety of reasons (e.g.: fresh produce that will not be sold the next day, short dated product, slightly damaged packaging or mistakes in ordering).

In celebration of our partnership with FoodCloud and encouraging you to cut down on food waste we're bringing you top tips for spicing up your leftovers.

Be safe and store and thaw leftovers properly

Before you tackle leftovers, make sure you know what you’re doing when it comes to prep and storage.

Store your leftovers safely by covering and freezing or refrigerating everything once the cooked food has cooled.

If you’re putting food in the freezer, label and date each item. Don’t forget you can freeze vegetables you didn’t cook. Pop them in boiling water for two or three minutes, drain and freeze in bags. If you plan on keeping leftovers in your fridge, here are some times you’ll need to remember. 

  • Beef, lamb, or pork will stay good for 3-4 days, refrigerated properly.
  • Bacon is good for a week.
  • Slices of ham are generally good for 3-5 days.
  • Poultry casseroles are good for 3-4 days. Chicken pieces like nuggets are usually good for 1-2 days, while cooked pieces e.g. fillets will last for 3-4 days.
  • Fish and shellfish is safe for 3-4 days.
  • Soups and stews are also good for 3-4 days.

If you’re not sure if something is safe, give it a quick whiff. If it’s got a pong about it, throw it out.

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Approach your cooking with leftovers in mind

Cook your meat, poultry and fish with generic seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic and mixed herbs to begin with. Leave out stronger flavours like chili, ginger or wine unless you know for sure what you’ll use it for.

That way you can use some of the meat for mildly seasoned classics like shepherd’s pie, burgers or baby food, and you can add spices to the remainder to create a curry or fajita mix. Of course, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can use red wine and add it to meals like Bolognaises, ragu or coq au vin. 

Keep in mind as well as well that you can use much of your meats for making a salad or sandwich with your leftovers. Roast veg and shredded meat are great in a big, hearty sandwich. Add some mayonnaise and herbs to leftover potato and use as a side for a tasty potato salad. You might only have a small 

amount of each food left, but that’s all you need. It will save you a few euro at the deli counter on the way to work as well.


Storing leftovers you might not have thought about

While meat and cooked dishes like curries or stews are obvious ones to store and cook for dinner later on in the week, we’re going to take a look at some of the less obvious keepers.

  • Never let stale bread go to waste. Dried bread is perfect for blitzing in the food processor to make breadcrumbs or cutting into croutons and roasting with minced garlic and herbs.  
  • Lots of leftover vegetables? Season them, add some stock and blend it into a soup. Same goes for leftover fruits and smoothies.
  • Use the leftover rind of parmesan cheese to drop into a pot of soup or homemade stock. Its nutty, salty taste will add great flavour. If you only have a small amount of cheese left, grate it over croutons and serve with the soup. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it!
  • With party season coming up, here’s one for the hosts out there: always keep long-lasting food like olives, serrano ham, cheese and crackers on hand. If you ever find yourself under pressure to stretch leftovers for guests, you can fill them up with a canapé platter to start with and serve some fresh baguette, hummus and green salad. It will all look very fancy, but it’s surprisingly easy to pull off.

Well-planned leftovers are the gift that keep on giving! 

Stock up on everything you need at Tesco

Whatever you’re cooking for your leftovers, you’ll find everything you need in your local Tesco. If you follow our tips, let us know how it goes on Facebook or Twitter.