5 Hacks Chef Dani Venn Uses to Make Leftovers Taste Better (While Still Being Sustainable)

Chef showing muffins

More than half of Australians (56%) are concerned about food waste and count reducing food waste as one of their top sustainability goals in 2021, says new research from GLAD. The study also found that Australians estimate they are throwing out $1,250 worth of groceries a year.

But while the findings are unsurprising, how do we follow through on our concerns? There’s of course the route of buying less food so less goes to waste, but what do we do if we have already bought or made too much?

To not only answer those questions, but also to help you save big on your household funds, not to mention lessen your impact on the environment, here Australian chef Dani Venn shares the five leftovers hacks she swears by.

Turn your hot chips into hash browns

If you’ve ever tried reheating leftover hot chips, you’ll agree they don’t taste the same as when you first buy them. But instead of throwing them away, try turning them into something more enjoyable — like hash browns. Add onions, olive oil and some seasoning, and you can turn limp hot chips into delicious hash browns in no time.

Hash browns
Image: Getty

Use leftover dips for salad dressings

Everyone loves a tasty bowl of chips and dip when having a family movie night, but instead of throwing away your leftover dip, use it to add to another dish instead. Leftover veggie-based dips like pesto and salsa verde can make great salad dressings — who knew? Simply add lemon juice or vinegar to your leftover dip with a little bit of oil and toss that flavour-packed sauce into your salads.

Regrow your lettuce

When you’ve used up all your lettuce, hold onto the core of the lettuce and place it in about half-inch of water. Expose it to sunlight, change the water daily and prepare to harvest your new green leaves in a few weeks. This is a great way to use leftovers instead of throwing them away in the bin.

Turn your close-to-expiring milk into ricotta cheese

If you have a fair bit of milk left and it’s close to its expiration date, add a dash of vinegar to the milk to make ricotta cheese or paneer cheese. The cheese can then work as a base for you to create new dishes like palak paneer or baked ricotta pasta.

Making ricotta cheese
Image: Pexels

Use leftover roast veggies for soups

If you have any leftover vegetables such as pumpkins, potatoes or sweet potatoes from last night’s roast dinner, repurpose them into a winter soup. Instead of throwing them away, pop them onto a tray with some salt and oil and reheat or bake them until they’re soft, and then mush up or blend them to create a soup. Add some water to give the soup a little more body and mix, and some salt and pepper, and before you know it, you’ll have a hearty soup on your hands.

Turn a whole orange into a popsicle treat

If you’re wanting to find a way to use your leftover oranges, consider turning them into a healthy treat for the kids — zesty popsicles. Instead of juicing the orange and throwing the flesh and skin away, try blending the whole fruit into a thick consistency with a little bit of water, and then pop the mixture into popsicle moulds. Bonus hack: dry out the orange peels and blend them into a powder, which can be used in desserts and dressings for an extra orange zing.

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