Simple recipes to reduce food waste

profile picture of Lucy Kapoutsos
Health Content Editor at Bupa UK
12 September 2023
Next review due September 2026

At the end of the week, you might be wondering what to do with leftover ingredients in the cupboards or fridge. By reducing food waste, you can save money and help to protect the environment.

Below are some useful recipes to help stop as much food as possible going into your food waste bin.

An image of hands chopping vegetables on a chopping board

Garlic croutons for soups or salads

This recipe can help you use up leftover bread throughout the year. In the summer, croutons add a crunch to salads. And in winter, you can add them to a warming vegetable soup.


  • Slices of slightly stale or leftover bread
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, or a sprinkle of dried garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper


  • Mix the garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper into a bowl.
  • Chop your bread into cubes.
  • Add your bread cubes to the mixing bowl with your other ingredients.
  • Pour over olive oil and mix, making sure the cubes have a good coating of herbs and oil.
  • Spread the cubes evenly onto a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6) until golden.

Banana peel curry

Bananas are often forgotten in the fruit bowl. If you fancy a change from making banana bread, why not try this aromatic curry recipe? You can add extra depth and flavour to your curry by using leftover bananas and their peels.


  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tablespoons of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • Salt and pepper


  • Peel your bananas and scrape the skins.
  • Wash the skins well and slice them into thin pieces.
  • Add them to a bowl with some turmeric and soak in water for between 30 minutes and 6 hours depending on how much time you have (the longer they soak, the softer the skins become).
  • Heat the oil in a pan, add onion, and fry gently until soft and lightly brown.
  • Add the remaining turmeric, cumin and curry powder and fry for another minute.
  • Dry the soaked banana skins and add them to your pan of ingredients.
  • Add 300ml of water and simmer for 15 minutes, after bringing to the boil.
  • Add salt and pepper and serve with brown rice. Or, choose cauliflower rice as an extra boost to your 5-a-day!

Leftover lettuce soup

Salad is one of the most wasted foods in the UK. It can be easy to forget lettuce lurking in the salad drawers of your fridge until it’s too late. This recipe can be made with other types of salad leaves too and is also a great way to use up spare potatoes.


  • 250g of lettuce or salad leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 onion
  • 400g of potatoes
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 800ml of vegetable or chicken stock (whichever you prefer or have at home)
  • Salt and pepper


  • Fry the chopped onion in oil until softened and slightly brown.
  • Peel and cut your potatoes into small pieces.
  • Add the potatoes and lettuce to the frying onions and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add stock, and bring to the boil before covering with a pan lid until the potatoes soften.
  • When the soup is cool, blend together.
  • Add salt and pepper.

Simple pancake recipe

Pancakes are a versatile dish that can be made sweet or savoury, and they make a great breakfast, lunch, or speedy evening meal.

They’re also a good way to use up another of the UK’s most wasted food items – milk.


  • 100g of plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower or vegetable oil
  • Toppings of your choice


  • Mix the flour, milk, and eggs in a bowl.
  • Heat your frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Brush your pan with a little bit of oil carefully.
  • Pour in some of your pancake mix.
  • Cook each pancake for 1 minute on each side, or until golden.

For toppings you could try spinach and cheese or add fresh fruit and yoghurt for a sweeter treat.

How else can I use up food I already have at home?

Below are some more ideas to help you reduce your household food waste.

  • Turn seeds into snacks. Instead of throwing squash seeds away, roast them and enjoy as a snack, or add to a soup or salad. Soak them in a bowl of warm water for five minutes, then dry, and toss on a baking tray. Add half a tablespoon of oil, season with a spice you enjoy, and roast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Bake your broccoli. We use the florets of cauliflower and broccoli often, but tend to throw the leaves and stalks away. They’re tasty if you chop them up finely and roast in the oven with some oil and seasoning. They come out crispy and add taste and texture to many dishes.
  • Maximise your mash. Potato cakes are a brilliant way to use up leftover mash and veg. You can use any leftover potatoes, including sweet potato if they’ve been boiled or roasted. Mash them, then mix in a bowl with your other leftovers like roasted veg or chopped herbs. Add some flour, and shape with wet hands into cakes. Fry them for a few minutes until golden on each side.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

profile picture of Lucy Kapoutsos
Lucy Kapoutsos (she/her)
Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • How to make croutons. BBC good food. Accessed August 2023
    • Banana peel curry. BBC good food. Accessed August 2023
    • Lettuce soup. BBC good food. Accessed August 2023
    • Food surplus and waste in the UK – key facts. WRAP. Last updated December 2022
    • Easy pancakes. BBC good food. Accessed August 2023

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