Reducing food waste – interesting ways to use up your fruit and veg

Bupa Health Editor Natalie Heaton
Health and Lifestyle Editor at Bupa UK
22 September 2020
Next review due September 2023

Reducing food waste is important for us all, both for financial reasons and for climate action. And with many of us cooking a lot more from home now, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do with that uneaten apple core or surplus carrot top. And there is! We often throw the fruit and veg peelings or stalks away, but there’s a lot of life left in these offcuts – here are some of my favourite tips and recipes.


Tepache is a Mexican pineapple drink, which is slightly *fermented. It’s sweet and refreshing and a little bit fizzy. Fermented foods can be good for our gut health as they contain probiotics (friendly bacteria). You make it using the rind or peel of the pineapple! It’s best to use sustainably sourced pineapple. To sterilise the container, you just need hot soapy water and an oven to dry the container in. There are lots of videos and tips on the internet that can show you how to do this if you’re not familiar with the process.


  • 3 litres of purified water (filtered or boil it first)
  • 250g of brown sugar
  • Peel of a pineapple and its core
  • A cinnamon stick
  • A star anise


Put all the ingredients into a big sterilised jar (4 litres) – or you can use two smaller ones – and cover the top with a tea towel, securing it with an elastic band.

Store somewhere safe at room temperature and leave it for three to five days.

You should see a frothy white foam on the top – this means your drink is fermenting. Scoop this off the top with a clean spoon.

Pour the contents through a sieve to strain out the peel. Pop the drink in an air-tight seal-top bottle and keep it in the fridge for up to a month. Serve over ice.

TIP: Most recipes call for using sugar, but you can reduce the amount – use a smaller amount of brown sugar or try a liquid sweetener like rice syrup.


Kvass is another slightly *fermented drink where you can use up your fruit cores and peelings to great effect. It’s a Russian drink traditionally made from rye bread, though lots of recipes don’t require this. This recipe is quick and easy and makes a fizzy, fruity flavoured drink.


  • Apple cores, orange peel, lemon rind – any fruit core or peeling works, you can also add mixed berries
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Half a lime
  • 4 mint leaves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 litre purified water


Place all the ingredients in a jar and cover with a tea towel and elastic band. Store at room temperature for five days.

Your drink will look bubbly and the fruit will look cooked. Strain out the fruit and pour into a sterilised air-tight seal-top bottle. Keep it in the fridge and serve with ice and a few mint leaves.

*Fermented drinks contain a low amount of alcohol so may not be suitable for some people, such as babies or children, or people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or on certain prescription medicines.

Homemade pesto

Homemade pesto is hands down one of the best things to have in your fridge. The great thing about it is it’s very adaptable. You can use walnuts, pine nuts, almonds or cashews, and herbs such as mint, parsley, coriander or basil. It’s also a fantastic way to use up the ‘tops’ of your veg such as carrot tops, beetroot tops and radish leaves.


  • 25g nuts of choice
  • 50g herbs of choice, including any veg tops
  • 25g grated parmesan (you can also use a vegetarian or vegan version)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 125ml olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 garlic clove (more if you like it garlicky!)


Place all the ingredients into a blender and whizz until it’s a good texture.

Dollop onto pasta, bruschetta, stir into mash, paste onto chicken breasts, or blob onto a bowl of soup.

Tinned beans and pulses

Keep the water from tinned beans or pulses and use it in a soup or gravy. You can also use it in a Bolognese sauce or stew.

You can also keep the water from a tin of chickpeas. This is called aquafaba and makes a great egg replacement in cakes and cocktails.

TIP: Go for tins that have no added salt.

Seed snacks

Don’t throw your squash seeds away. Roast them and enjoy as a delicious snack or garnish for a soup or salad.

  • Carefully pinch the squash seeds away from the excess flesh.
  • Soak in a bowl of warm water for five minutes.
  • Drain well, rubbing dry on kitchen paper.
  • Toss on a baking tray with half a tablespoon of oil, season with a spice (smoked paprika, cumin or chilli powder) and spread out.
  • Roast in the oven for 8–10 minutes until golden and crisp.

Cauliflower leaves and broccoli stalks

The florets of cauliflower and broccoli are of course the main event, while the outer leaves and stalks often get thrown away. But they’re super tasty if you chop them up finely and roast in the oven with a bit of oil and seasoning. They come out a bit crispy and add another taste and texture to your dish.

Potato cakes

Potato cakes are a brilliant way to use up leftover mash and pretty much any veg. You can use any leftover potatoes, including sweet potato – if they’ve been boiled or roasted, simply use a potato masher to get them to a mash-like consistency.

Then mix your mash in a bowl with your other leftovers such as tinned beans, roasted veg and fresh chopped herbs. You can also add some spring onion, dried spices and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a bit of flour – plain, wholegrain or even chickpea flour work well – and shape with wet hands into little cakes. Fry them for a few minutes until golden on each side.

Perfect for brunch or lunch served on a bed of salad with some hot sauce.

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Bupa Health Editor Natalie Heaton
Natalie Heaton (she/her)
Health and Lifestyle Editor at Bupa UK

    • Fermented drinks and alcohol factsheet. NSW Government., last updated 12 July 2019
    • Probiotics. British Dietetic Association., published June 2018

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