5 Thrifty Ways To Use Your Leftovers

Left overs are pretty unavoidable at this time of the year. 🙄

Americans alone waste on average 5 million more pounds of food between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Here at The Swag, we're all about lightening our impact, reducing food waste and avoiding plastic. So to help you help the world, we're sharing five ways you can put your leftovers to good use (and none of them are recipes!).

1. Pack ‘em

When preparing your festive feasts, have a dedicated container/bucket/reusable bag to pack your edible scraps into. We’re talking everything from peels, skins, leaves, stalks, rinds, offcuts, bones, whatever you’ve got! These aren’t for your compost (more on that below!), they’re for stock and pesto. You don’t have to do anything with them straight away - we understand you’ll need time to get through your food coma - but once the prepping and cooking is over, you can put the container of scraps in the freezer. When the things start to slow down, you can pencil in a day to create simple stocks and petos to enjoy over the remainder of the season. 

2. Feed ‘em to the dogs

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have a four legged furry family member eyeing off your plate, hanging around the kitchen or laying at your feet, ready and waiting for any scrap to fall. Before throwing out leftovers, dedicate a container for dog-friendly foods that you can freeze and add as a side to your regular feed. Both raw and cooked veggies are great but keep cooked bones to the stock container (mentioned above) as these are very dangerous for dogs. Always double check which foods yours can tolerate, but The Swag’s resident pooches love pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, plain pasta and rice!

3. Grow ‘em

Did you know that certain types of produce that you buy from your local supermarket or farmers market can be regrown? Lettuce, bok choy, celery, green onions, fennel, ginger and garlic are super easy to regrow from scraps/leftovers. The quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, we recommend buying local organic produce. Head here, to find out how to grow these veggies from scraps.

5. Gift ‘em

Believe it or not, you can create some pretty thoughtful gifts with leftovers. Turn coffee grounds into a body scrub, citrus rinds and dried fruits into potpourri, or left over berries into jams! In fact, we recently shared a zero waste DIY gift idea, using left over food items! 

6. Compost ‘em

Of course, this one is a no brainer. Whatever doesn’t go to broths, the dogs or reborn again in the garden, can go into the compost. Almost anything that was once alive can go in the compost bin. Citrus, garlic and onion should be put in very sparingly (but a little is OK!). If you live in a small space and find yourself without a kitchen compost bin, knock on your neighbours’ door and find out who does! It’s a beautiful way to connect on shared values with those living around you, plus anyone with compost will be grateful for some additional worm feed! 

Ultimately, to keep your leftovers as fresh as possible for as long as possible, storage is key. We use a damp Swag bag to keep all of our scraps together before we transform them into a tasty broth! Alternatively, keep them in a glass container and freeze them for another day when you’re feeling creative! 

We hope these tips help create less waste over the festive season for you and your loved ones, so that together we can make a huge, positive impact on the earth.