Use of leftovers: use food, don’t throw it away

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Preserving food and using leftovers are popular strategies to stop wasting food and money.

Let’s be honest: food spoilage has always hurt, but it’s never been as painful as it is today. Food prices are going through the roof, and you’ve never had to dig so deep into your pocket at the supermarket checkout. Germany as Federal Bureau of Statistics as reported, food prices have increased by 16.6% in August this year and in the same period last year. For comparison: from 2000 to 2019, the average price increase was just 1.5 percent. So now more than ever it pays to buy products when they are on sale. Even if you have little space, you can create a small supply.

Rising Cost of Living: Food has never been so expensive

Cooking oils (price increases of more than 40 percent), meat (19 percent), dairy products and eggs (each more than 15 percent) are particularly affected by price increases. But the prices of fruit and vegetables have also increased by 2.5% and 7.5% respectively. Although careful handling of food has always been a virtue, it has never been so economically valuable. And yet, every week we find new food in our fridges and fruit baskets, left over after cooking and shriveling unused by the time it finally ends up in the bin.

But that doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be the case: with little effort and no great skill, typical refrigerator containers can be turned into delicious dishes that can be stored for the next week. Food storage also plays an important role. Here you can find out how to store potatoes and onions, even without a cellar, to keep them as long as possible.

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1. Leftover Egg Yolk Recipe: Vegetarian and Lactose Free Carbonara

Eggs have a surprisingly long shelf life, at least when stored properly: raw they keep fresh for four to six weeks in the fridge, and at least three weeks in the cellar at 10-12°C. But here’s the crux: they’re quickly forgotten as the weeks go by, and if you look at the packaging later, it might be long gone. Depending on the size of the carton, every six to twelve perfect eggs end up in the compost.

Boiling has always been a popular way to extend their life: hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for another two weeks after cooking. If you don’t repel them after cooking, they can turn into four weeks. Freezing is less common, but certainly possible: frozen eggs will last up to eight months. But be careful, the temperature must be exactly -18 °C – any deviation will affect the shelf life. But what if, especially during baking, only the egg white is needed? And the yellow part of the egg threatens to turn green over time?

Spaghetti carbonara
You can use leftover egg yolks for a lactose-free vegetarian spaghetti carbona. © Mykola Lunov/Imago

Ingredients for vegetarian and lactose-free carbonara:

  • 3 egg yolks (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 100 g smoked tofu (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
  • 40 g parmesan (grated)
  • parsley (chopped)
  • 1 pinch of pepper

Preparation of vegetarian and lactose-free carbonara:

  1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat while mixing the eggs, pepper, parsley and almost lactose-free parmesan in a bowl.
  2. Then add the olive oil to the heated pan, sauté the garlic and the smoked tofu.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the egg mixture. Carbonara can then be mixed with whole spaghetti, for example.


If you don’t want to overcook the egg yolk right away, it’s worth freezing. Placing a yolk in an ice cube freezer bag will make it easier to separate later and prevent freezer burn.

2. Leftover Carrot Recipe: Quick Chickpea Stir Fry with Caramelized Carrots

Like so many types of vegetables, carrots are usually sold in a bundle or sack and are therefore one of the classic leftover foods. And because it goes stale quickly, carrots often end up unused in the organic waste bin. It is easy to preserve: in the refrigerator, it lasts two to three weeks, and at least six months frozen. To do this, they must first be washed, but not peeled, cut into large pieces and peeled – this kills bacteria and preserves the color. In addition, you avoid waste caused by unnecessarily peeled carrot skins. Once cooled, place in a freezer bag and place in the freezer. This also works with cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage, along with carrots, an ideal combination for a vegetable stir-fry.

Ingredients for Quick Chickpea Fry with Caramelized Carrots:

  • 300 g of carrots from the freezer
  • 6 tablespoons chickpeas (canned)
  • 2 spoons of organic soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sample image – not actual recipe image

Quick Chickpea Pan with Caramelized Carrots:

  1. Place the carrots directly from the freezer in a preheated pan and fry without oil for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Pour in the maple syrup and caramelize for 2 minutes on high heat.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chickpeas, organic soy sauce and smoked paprika – done.

3. Arugula leftovers recipe: arugula pesto for pasta, bread and fries

Usually, you only need a few rockets of the bitter salad plant, but because there is no alternative, it is bought in large bunches or baskets. Although leafy greens are cold tolerant, they only last two to three days in the refrigerator before they shrivel or turn gray. But it looks much better in the freezer: Rocket can stay there for six months.

Frozen arugula is good for seasoning. To do this, first wash it well and remove the damaged leaves. The rocket is then finely chopped, placed in an ice cube tray, completely covered with water and placed in the freezer. If needed, frozen rocket seasoning cubes can be taken out of the freezer at any time and used in soups, sauces or stir-fries.

Ingredients for pasta, bread and fried arugula pesto:

  • 100 g of arugula
  • 160 g grated hard cheese of your choice (different types of hard cheese can be mixed)
  • 40 g finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 0.5 teaspoons of salt
Rocket pesto
Use arugula to make a delicious pesto. © Cavan Images/Imago

the preparation Arugula pesto for pasta, bread and stir-fry:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a blender, gradually adding the olive oil. Mix everything together until you get the usual consistency of pesto.
  2. Place in small containers for storage (cleaned jam jars work best) and cover with a layer of olive oil; thus, no oxygen can reach the pesto.
  3. Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and in the freezer for 6 months.

4. Leftover Cabbage Recipe: Cabbage Chips

Cabbage is a classic of German cuisine and is rich in vitamins and minerals. However, you usually don’t need the full amount bought at home – it’s usually only available as a whole head of cabbage. That’s not a bad thing, however, when it comes to storage, because cabbage is a very grateful vegetable: it stays edible in the refrigerator for weeks, and frozen for more than half a year.


Before freezing, wash, cut into small pieces, peel (this kills bacteria and preserves color), then the cooled cabbage pieces are placed in freezer bags to protect from freezer burn and placed in the freezer.

Ingredients for Cabbage Chips: 1 whole cabbage per 5 cabbage leaves:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 0.5 teaspoons of herbs de Provence or
  • 0.5 teaspoons of smoked paprika

Sample image – not actual recipe image

Prepare the cabbage fries:

  1. Preheat the oven to 120°C, wash the cabbage leaves, dry them well, remove the stem (otherwise the fries will burn) and cut them into pieces. Next, mix the cabbage pieces in a bowl with oil and spices, then spread them on a baking tray lined with baking paper (don’t overlap too much) and put them in the oven.
  2. After 10 to 15 minutes, the fries should be crispy and lightly browned, but they should be turned in between so they don’t scorch. After removing from the oven, they should be left to dry for about 20 minutes.

For further use, the cut stems can be chopped, peeled and frozen as a soup vegetable.

5. Banana leftovers recipe: banana-chocolate-milk-nice

Although the banana is the second favorite fruit of Germans after the apple, it too often ends up in the trash. This may be due to the fact that banana is a fast ripening fruit, so it develops dark spots quickly and becomes unappetizing for some. Another problem: you usually buy them from perennials, and you don’t always manage to eat them all in the 5 days or so of keeping the bananas at 12-15°C. That’s right: banana is a cold-sensitive fruit and is not refrigerated, so you keep it open.

When ripe, bananas release ethylene, which affects the ripening process of other fruits that will ripen later, such as apples, pears or peaches. Therefore, they should definitely be kept separate from such fruits. Bananas can be frozen for six months. But be careful: they should be cut into slices no more than 1.5 cm thick and placed in freezer bags to protect them from freezer burn.

Ingredients to make a nice banana chocolate cream:

  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 3-4 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  • 100 ml cereal drink or cow’s milk
  • 1-3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Sample image – not actual recipe image

the preparation Nice Banana Chocolate Cream:

  1. Allow the bananas to thaw slightly and then blend them in a blender with the rest of the ingredients until creamy.
  2. It should be seasoned with maple syrup – it can be sweet.
  3. Consume directly cold.

(by Thorsten Dammert)

About the author:

Thorsten Dammert is Head of Nutrition at the food company Juit. After twelve years in high-end gastronomy, the chef and food technologist develops recipes there, chooses ingredients and suppliers and personally prepares his dishes.

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