Time to freshen-up fridge leftovers

Challenge yourselves to cook a meal from near-expiring items in the fridge, writes the team from Love Food Hate Waste.

When trying to save money and food, small actions can make a huge difference, and keeping track of what we buy is a great place to start. Using the reusable Eat Me First Sticker to dedicate a shelf or box for leftovers or food that needs to be used up is one of Love Food Hate Waste NZ’s top tips to keeping food out of the bin.

Once a week, Love Food Hate Waste NZ challenges Kiwis to hold a Friday Fridge Feed, which is all about using up the food in the Eat Me First box or from the dedicated shelf. It provides the opportunity to get creative with your cooking or simply an opportunity to use up leftovers from the night before.

Going with a mix and match approach and combining ingredients from the "Eat Me First" shelf can lead to unexpected flavour profiles but could also lead to newfound favourites. That almost-empty jar of salsa? Use it to marinate chicken breasts before grilling. Those wilted vegetables? Throw them into a stir-fry with some sauces and protein for a quick and nutritious meal. The possibilities are endless when you let your imagination run wild.

Check out Love Food Hate Waste’s fridge harvest stew recipe (below) to get you started on a fridge harvest meal.

Remember there’s often room to revive and repurpose, don’t write off ingredients just because they look a little sad. Many fruits and vegetables can be revived with a bit of TLC. Soak wilted greens in ice water to crisp them up or roast slightly wrinkled tomatoes or citrus to intensify their flavour then turn it into a sauce or jam. Additionally, don’t hesitate to repurpose leftovers into entirely new dishes—a roast chicken can become chicken salad or soup, and stale bread can be transformed into croutons, breadcrumbs, or even cake.

It is also helpful to take stock before going to the grocery store. Take an inventory of what’s already in your fridge and plan meals around those ingredients. This ensures that everything gets used before it spoils.

For more recipe inspiration visit the website www.lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz

Toast up some stale bread in the oven and serve as croutons. Photo: Getty Images
Toast up some stale bread in the oven and serve as croutons. Photo: Getty Images

Fridge harvest stew


2 large garlic cloves, chopped

¼ cup olive oil

1 tin crushed tomatoes

2 cups stock

2 tins cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or other types of beans of your choice)

200-300g leftover cooked meat, sliced, shredded or chopped into chunks

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp salt

1 bag spinach or rocket


In a large pot, sauté garlic in olive oil until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add in tinned tomatoes and stock.

Stir in beans, meat, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Stir in greens and cook until they wilt (approximately 1-2 minutes).


1. Toast stale bread in the oven and serve as an accompaniment.

2. If you don’t have any beans, try adding cubed potato or pumpkin to the stew — just make sure you increase the cooking time so it has time to cook.