How to use up fridge leftovers

We asked you what’s knocking around the back of your fridge – those half empty jars and opened bottles. Try our ideas for using up leftovers.

1. Mild curry paste

Store it right 

Once opened, curry paste can keep for 1-2 months in the fridge – check the storing instructions and best-before date on the label.

Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Whisk a little curry paste into the egg mixture for a frittata or scrambled eggs.
  • Use as a marinade for lamb, beef or chicken and freeze in airtight containers. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then chargrill, cut into slices and serve with salad or as a pizza topping.
Curry paste in a jar

2. Whole-egg mayonnaise

Store it right 

Keep mayo in the fridge after opening and follow the packet directions – most need to be used up within 1-2 months.

Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Coat barbecued corn cobs with mayo and sprinkle with parmesan to make a Mexican-style street corn inspired side dish.
  • Spread over chicken breast before crumbing – the crumbs stick to the meat without any need for whisked egg. Try our zesty chicken schnitzel.
Mexican style street corn cobs

3. Jam

Store it right 

Whether bought or homemade, jams generally contain sugar which acts as a preservative, but once opened it’s best to use them within 1-2 months.

Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Take red-wine-based gravy or slow-cooked dishes to the next level by stirring in a spoonful of berry or plum jam – the sweetness helps balance the acidity in the red wine.
  • Boost the berry flavour in your smoothie with a little jam – try it in our PB & J smoothie recipe.
  • Swap the maple syrup in our Raspberry Coconut Bliss Balls for jam.
Three berry jam jars

4. Tortillas 

Store it right

To keep tortillas fresher for longer, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month or layer them between sheets of baking paper and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 Try these ideas to use it up  

  • Bake crispy tortilla bowls to fill with chicken and rice or salad. Try these tortilla bowls
  • Layer tortillas up like lasagne sheets in a cheesy bake with bechamel and bolognaise or chilli con carne.
  • Create ultra-thin and crispy pizzas using tortillas instead of traditional bases. To get ahead, spread with tomato paste, then wrap in Coles Cling Wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months, then add your toppings and bake from frozen.
A stack of tortillas

5. Basil pesto

Store it right

Store bought pesto in an airtight container or jar for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. 

Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Mix pesto with cream cheese for a crowd-pleasing 2-ingredient dip. You could also whip up a chunkier dip using extra nuts – think cashews and walnut – along with any fresh leaves you have handy such as baby spinach or rocket.
  • Drizzle pesto over soups or cooked chicken just before serving.
  • Use pesto as the base for a vinaigrette – shake it up in a screw-top jar with some vinegar or extra lemon juice so it reaches the right consistency for dressing your salad.
Frozen pesto cubes

6. Pickled cucumbers

Store it right

Pickling liquid is made with vinegar, sugar and salt. These natural preservatives help the pickles last for 6-12 months in the fridge. Make sure the cucumbers are completely submerged in the pickling liquid, as they’ll go off faster if exposed to the air.

 Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Jazz up your next ham and cheese toastie with sliced pickled cucumbers and a little mustard.
  • Dip sliced pickled cucumbers in a basic tempura batter, then shallow-fry until crisp and serve with drinks.
  • We know pickles are great tossed through salads, but did you know you can use the pickling liquid to amp up the flavour of the dressing, too? Try the pickled veggie salad.
Leftover pickles

7. Sour cream

Store it right

 Stored in a sealed tub or container in the fridge, sour cream stays fresh for up to 2 weeks after opening. Freezing causes it to separate so it’s not recommended if you want to use as a topping, but thawed sour cream is fine for baking. Freeze in an ice cube tray then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

 Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Sour cream can be used like thickened cream in cooking. Stir through pasta with pesto or mustard for a simple sauce.
  • Sour cream is also brilliant for baking – the fat content adds richness, while the subtle acidity helps cakes and muffins rise. Look for a cake or muffin recipe that uses sour cream, such as our orange and poppy seed muffins.
Leftover sour cream

8. Miso paste

Store it right

Made by fermenting soybeans, miso paste has a long shelf-life thanks to its high salt content. Store in the fridge after opening.

 Try these ideas to use it up 

  • As well as Japanese-style dishes, such as miso eggplant, miso paste adds rich flavour to family favourites such as scrambled eggs. You can even add a spoonful to cookie dough to enhance the sweetness.
  • Miso also pairs well with mushrooms – these ingredients share a savoury ‘umami’ flavour that’s perfect in pie fillings. Try our chicken and leek pie.
Miso eggplants cut in half

9. Wholegrain mustard

Store it right 

 Once opened, store mustard in the sealed jar in the fridge and use it within 1-3 months after opening.

 Try these ideas to use it up 

  • Stir mustard into creamy cauliflower soup with grated vintage cheddar just before serving.
  • To make a cheesy topping for toast, melt butter in a pan and stir in flour, then whisk in milk, mustard and cheese. Simmer until thick, then spread over toast and finish under a hot grill.
  • Spread a little mustard over both sides of beef or lamb burger patties before cooking.
Leftovers mustard 976x549

10. Tomato paste

Store it right 

With no preservatives (except sometimes salt), a can or tub of tomato paste is best used within 3-5 days of opening. Once opened, keep in an airtight container and cover the surface with a layer of oil to prevent mould growing. Squeezy packs are available that keep air out so the paste stays fresh for up to 3 weeks, and small packs and sachets help avoid food waste, too. You can freeze tomato paste in airtight containers for up to 3 months.

 Try these ideas to use it up 

  • To make a substitute for canned tomatoes, mix one part tomato paste with three parts water. Add to bolognaise or tomato-based sauces and cook until thickened.
  • It’s a winner in tomato-based soups, too – try this chunky ratatouille soup with tortellini.
Ratatouille soup with cheese tortellini