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How to use up those refrigerator extras; limp carrots, brown bananas, sad celery, etc.

One of the things that bugs me the most is food waste. We’re a pretty normal family of four. We cook at home a lot and eat regular kinds of food, but I can’t get over how much food we buy that we don’t end up eating. I think we also tend to take a lazy route out sometimes. It’s easier to throw those slowly perishing perishables into the compost bin instead of finding something else to do with them.

I think it’s time for us to get serious and use up some of our refrigerator extras. Not just to save some coin, but to teach our kids some important kitchen skills.

Here are a few things I’m going to try and do more of:

Use up stale bread

Stale bread can be turned into breadcrumbs and croutons without too much effort. Did you know you can make your own Fake n’ Bake crumb coating? Here’s an easy recipe. Day old baguettes are especially good for croutons (which can be used in soups and salads). Just cut up the bread, toss with a bit of olive oil and spices and pop in the oven until crispy. (It doesn’t get much easier than that!)

Deal with that fruit and veggie drawer

Soft apples can be cooked down into applesauce (my kids love it, and it’s much better than store bought) and brown bananas are perfect for banana bread and banana ice cream. A shredded carrot can be tossed in a meatloaf. And no one will die if sprouty potatoes are de-sprouted and boiled and mashed or turned into a soup.

And did you know that if you put your green onions in water they’ll keep growing? Then you can just snip off what you need. (Frankly, it’s amazing. You MUST try this.)

Green onions

Other leftover veggies such as onions, sad celery, and withered carrots can make the basis of a great soup stock. Toss in a leftover chicken or turkey carcass and you have the beginnings of something beautiful. A Parmesan rind can add great flavour too.

Any combination of soft fruit – bananas, melons, peaches – makes a great smoothie. One of our faves includes banana, vanilla yogurt, peanut butter and cocoa.

And when someone hands you lemons, make fancy ice cubes. Lemons that are starting to dry out can be sliced and tucked into ice cube trays to make lemon ice cubes.

If life gives you lemons...

Use up that red wine

Leftover red wine is pretty rare around here, but it makes a great addition to a steak marinade or to beef stew. It’s also the basis of The World’s Best Fruit Fly Trap. Really!  Just don’t drink it by accident.

My fruit fly trap!

Using up leftovers can save some serious cash when you think about it.

How do you use up leftovers at home? Share your domestic wisdom!

Mother of two imps and wife of one. Writer, photographer, pro blogger, adventure-seeker, Ottawaholic, social media evangelist and lover of STUFF. Also known as @missfish on Twitter.

11 Responses to “How to use up those refrigerator extras; limp carrots, brown bananas, sad celery, etc.”

[…] the potato soup I made out of wrinkly potatoes last week? Well, it inspired my latest post on the UsedEverywhere blog about using up those slowly perishing leftovers. I would love to get your two cents over there! […]



Left over roast beef or pork, especially if it has a bone you can boil for broth, is great for a beef vegetable soup. (If there isn’t enough leftovers from one roast, throw it in the freezer until you have left overs from another to go with it.)

I also like to throw left over meat and veggies together to make a stir fry.

Left over rice can be made into a rice pudding. (to make it extra special, soak the raisins in rum for 24 hours before making the pudding!)


    Andrea Tomkins

    Awesome. Thank you Sasha for sharing!


The trick is to stay on top of it (eat fresh). Having said that, I too have this problem. Most of it goes in with the chicken bones (soup stock). Your idea of making crouttons with dry bread is fantastic. Thanks!

There is some comfort in at least making more garden soil (composting) from those items that are beyond re-use.


    Andrea Tomkins

    Binki, the croutons are REALLY good. I’ve made them using day-old Art-is-in garlic bread. It is DIVINE. Sprinkle them with rosemary before baking – they are SO good.

    The other reason I like making my own is because I like controlling the crunchiness of my croutons. I find store-bought to be too dry and crunchy!


I love the ice cube tip. So original. I mash up brown bananas and make banana-chocolate chip muffins. As for dying vegetables, soup is a great idea, and so is throwing everything into the juicer and drinking the concoction!



I have started keeping a zip lock back in the freezer for all my veggy cut offs: brocoli stems (which I could use for salad but never do), onion skins, tops of peppers, celery tips, anything really. Then once it is full I make a veggie stock. I was skeptical the first time I made it, but I was instantly a convert. It had tons of flavour, was fast to make and I was able to make up a soup right away (once I dicarded all the mushy veggies.) Bonus, no fat to skim since there is no meat or bones involved.



Using up old bread is always fun. Stale bread makes good bread crumbs but also makes good bread pudding. You can make sweet or savoury. Cube it up and make stuffing or dressing (for chicken or other meats). You can also mix bread cubes with milk, cheese, bacon, onions, and some eggs and bake in the oven until golden brown. You can also make a pie filling by crushing it into crumbs, soaking them with dark corn syrup and baking (like a large tart).

Fruits and vegies work great in Swiss steak (onions, carrots, cellery, tomatoes) even when limp, or also used underneath a roast. They help to hold the roast off the pan so it doesn’t stick and makes for great flavour. Old tomatoes, onions, spinach, peppers, etc are great in indian curry since they get blended up into a gravy.

An easy way to make a great breakfast and use small amounts of leftovers is in omelettes. Meatloaf, ham, vegies, sauces, onions, pizza toppings, burgers, anything! Just spread out and fry 2 eggs, flip, add cheese and toppings, close and heat. Takes just a pinch and adds flavour to what would have been scrambled eggs.


Dog owner

For the Pet Owners ou there, Another way to save on waste, when you make a soup stock from the saved Veggies, before you consider tossing the boiled veggies form the stock take them and blend them up in the blender. The blended mix of boiled down watery veggies makes a great gravy to add to any pets food. My dog loves the extra veggie gravy that he gets with his dry kibble.


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