Tips for Using Leftovers and Avoiding Food Waste

Tips for Using Leftovers and Avoiding Food Waste By Ashwani Vohra, CEO, Food Services, Compass Group India

Food waste is a pressing global issue with widespread consequences. One-third of all food produced globally is wasted or lost during cultivation, transportation, or preparation. This waste accounts for 10% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and could instead provide sustenance for nearly 2 billion individuals, nearly one and a half times the population of India, according to United Nations data.

Stop Food Waste Day, a movement started by Compass Group USA in 2017, has grown into a global phenomenon uniting communities to educate, inspire, and enact change.  But how can we, as individuals and organisations, make a difference? The answer lies in mindful consumption and creative solutions for leftover food.

A Smart Start

  • Our battle against food waste begins with the sourcing of ingredients. Imperfect-looking fruits and vegetables are often discarded at the farm, a heart-breaking loss considering their nutritional value. So, let’s embrace the natural variations in produce.
  • Seasonal and local ingredients offer another opportunity to reduce waste. By supporting local farmers and enjoying what is in season, we can minimise storage requirements and price fluctuations. This approach not only reduces waste but also promotes healthier and more flavourful dishes.
  • Traditional cultures around the world have long practiced resourcefulness in the kitchen. Utilising every part of a vegetable, from peels to stems, is a practice we can all learn from. The worldwide ‘Peel Not’ campaign underscores this idea by celebrating the nutritional richness found in peels, which are packed with fiber.
  • Finally, a crucial step towards reducing food waste is planning and portion control. Predicting food needs accurately is an ongoing challenge, especially when affordability becomes a factor. Educating ourselves and our children about mindful consumption habits is vital. So, start at home and extend this awareness to schools and workplaces, encouraging people to finish what they take and avoid the ‘eyes bigger than stomach’ mentality.

Repurposing Leftovers: A Culinary Adventure

  • Repurposing leftovers is an art form, but it requires careful consideration. Food safety hinges on proper storage and handling techniques. While restaurants may have dedicated systems for reusing ingredients, home cooks can still get creative with leftovers.
  • Transparency is essential. Larger operations can communicate the amount of food wasted daily, highlighting the number of people who could have been fed with those resources. This awareness campaign encourages responsible consumption and promotes taking smaller portions with the option to come back for more.
  • Technology plays a valuable role in this fight. Large operations, such as food service providers, restaurants and hotels, can analyse food preferences and trends to predict demand and optimise production quantities. Apart from production, they can track food waste patterns to identify unpopular dishes and adjust production plans accordingly. This data-driven approach allows us to predict demand more accurately and minimise waste.
  • Finally, food banks and non-profit organisations (NGO) offer a safety net, ensuring leftover food reaches those in need. Large operations partner with these organisations to ensure the efficient and safe donation of excess food.

Every day is an opportunity to reduce food waste and we should be committed to this journey of environmental responsibility. By adopting these strategies and fostering a culture of mindful consumption, we can all make a significant difference in the fight against food waste.

A recipe from Compass Group India that showcases creative leftover usage

Chatpata Paneer Quesadilla (Serves 2)


Ingredients Quantity Measurement
Leftover Chapati or Paratha 4 Pieces
Leftover Rajma Masala 1 Cup
Seasoned Paneer 80 Grams
Onion (Thinly Sliced) 30 Grams
Mixed Bell Peppers (Thinly sliced) 40 Grams
Grated Cheese 30 Grams
Chopped Coriander 1 Tablespoon
Green Chili Chopped (optional) 1 Piece
Butter 5 Grams
Salt and Pepper As per taste


  • In a mixing bowl, add rajma, paneer, chopped onion, coriander leaves, and chopped bell pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Take one chapati or paratha and spread a generous amount of the rajma-paneer mixture evenly over one half of the chapati or paratha.
  • Sprinkle grated cheese over the mixture.
  • Fold the chapati or paratha in half, covering the mixture completely.
  • Heat a tawa (griddle) over medium heat. Brush a little butter on it.
  • Place the stuffed chapati or paratha on the tawa and grill until golden brown and crispy on both sides, pressing gently with a spatula to ensure even cooking.
  • Once both sides are golden and the cheese has melted, remove the stuffed chapati or paratha from the tawa.
  • Cut the stuffed chapati or paratha into halves or quarters.
  • Serve hot with homemade chutney or salsa on the side.

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