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Cooking Challenge

Cooking Ingredients

2024 Cooking Challenge



Grinder Bean Salad
Joelle Ciriacy, Cookeville, TN

I made an Italian grinder salad last week based off a recipe from Instagram and had some leftover ingredients (e.g., marinated peppers, salami) that I don’t typically use a lot of. I also had some carrots, celery, and a bag of radishes languishing in my fridge for a couple weeks. I didn’t have a lot of time to cook so I decided to put an Italian grinder spin on a classic bean salad then throw in a bunch of diced fresh veggies. I then served this alongside carbonara pasta.

This dish prevented the waste of carrots, celery, radishes, pepperoncini, marinated sweet hot peppers, and salami. These are all things that I do not typically cook with much (and therefore forget to use) or things that I just have a habit of holding onto for a long time (because I aspire to eat plain raw radishes, but I am not always in the mood to eat them). In addition to using up the marinated peppers I bought for another recipe, I used the marinating liquid as some of the acidic base for a vinaigrette to toss with the salad. I’m sure it saved some money, but it’s tough to estimate – I think that if at least half the marinated peppers and half of the salami (the leftover special ingredients from last week) had gone bad, I would have thrown out $7.50?


Savory Pantry Raid Pancakes
Stacey, Vancouver, Washington

Inspired by my time living in Japan as a high school student, one of my favorite meals was Okonomiyaki, a savory pancake made with vegetables, meat, and seafood which became the blueprint for this savory pancake recipe. Over the years, I’ve transformed this dish using whatever leftovers I have on hand, from stir-fry to taco night leftovers. With this basic pancake mix, simply stir in a cup of leftovers that sound appetizing and cook like another other pancake. I then top with salsa, slaw, or a refreshing side salad. These pancakes can also be transformed into “planovers,” by freezing for future meals. When time is tight, a quick reheat in the toaster transforms these leftovers into a meal on the go. Repurposing leftovers into versatile dishes like a savory pancakes maximizes the value of the ingredients you already have. Additionally, freezing the pancakes for future meals is a great way to ensure you always have a convenient option ready to go.


Papri Power Platter
Heidi Carla. Cranston, RI

A favorite afterschool treat at my house is a healthy & lively spin on the classic Indian street food snack papri.  This recipe is quick, easy and can be modified to utilize leftover veggies such a potatoes, carrots, peas, cauliflower florets and herbs such as cilantro, parsley, mint or arugula.

Papri are fried chips, a little bit like nachos. They’re typically layered with boiled potatoes and chickpeas, as well as chutneys, yogurt, and other ingredients, like onions. Heidi adds or subs crumbled tortilla, whatever herbs or vegetables she has on hand (sometimes worked into chutney; other times used as a garnish), and is flexible on the spices, depending on what she has on hand. As if this didn’t already sound mouthwatering, she sometimes tops with fried chickpeas or chow mein noodles.


Loaded Sweet Potato Toast
Jasmine Ngo, Memphis, TN

One of my college friends introduced me to the idea of “sweet potato toast” in pursuit of fun, healthy-carb meal ideas. Luckily, I remembered this as I stared at my old, sprouted sweet potato, waiting for inspiration to strike. I quickly sliced and air-fryed it, then topped with shredded cheese from my freezer, a deteriorating avocado, leftover rotisserie chicken tossed with taco seasoning, and homemade pickled red onion. It was delightful, nutritious, and nostalgic of my time in college!

All of the ingredients used, I already had on hand. If it had not been for a friend telling me about Food Waste Prevention Week, my sweet potato would have ended up in my compost or garden–both great options but I would have missed out on the yummy meal and creativity. 

Chocolate Donut Bread Pudding
Teralyn Pilgrim. Beavercreek, OR

I took home a dozen donuts a friend gave me, only to discover they were all stale. I didn’t want to force myself to eat junk food that I didn’t even want, nor did I want to throw the donuts out. Bread pudding is a classic way to use up old bread, so I thought, why not do the same with donuts?


Find more details on the winning entries at EatOrToss. 

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About the contest

Join us for a national challenge to reward and spread the word about creative, low-waste cooking. Pssst…we have prizes.


In honor of Food Waste Prevention Week we’re holding a challenge to highlight the ingenious food-waste-fighting work going on in household kitchens across the country. Everyone wins when we make the most of food, but the submitted recipes that most excite our judges (and they’re pretty excitable, so don’t stress) will earn some nifty prizes.


How to Enter

From March 4 to April 9, anytime you make a meal that helps you rescue food that might have been tossed, tell us about it by filling out the form in the link above. Each dish you share will be an entry in the challenge. You don’t need to write out a formal recipe, just share the story of the dish and, if you can, include a photo. We want to hear ALL about your food-waste-fighting journey, so if you try to improvise a meal and it turns out just OK, but you learn something along the way, go ahead and share that with us too.


Entries can earn additional points by posting photos about the creation and tagging #FWPWChallenge @foodwastepreventionweek @Ends&Stems @EatOrToss on social media.


After April 9, our judges will evaluate each entry based on a number of food-waste-fighting factors. We’ll announce the winners during an Instagram Live event on Friday, April 26.

Judging Criteria

Entries will be scored based on:

  • Versatility (ability to use up random ingredients, etc.)

  • Using parts of the food that are often wasted (peels, stems)

  • Creativity

  • Appeal

  • Power to inspire others to reduce their waste

All entries will be entered into a raffle.

Who are the judges?

Alison Mountford

Alison Mountford is a consumer food waste reduction expert, content creator, and public/corporate speaker. In 2017 she founded Ends+Stems - a recipe website that helps busy people meal plan with less waste. What’s in Your Fridge? With Chef Alison is a recurring segment on WPRI's The Rhode Show, demonstrating sustainable cooking habits on morning television.  Alison has worked with Target, Airtable, Deloitte, Stanford, USCF, the Smithsonian and the EPA. She began in 2005 as a personal chef and had a catering company in San Francisco for 16 years. Alison is the Director of Marketing for Hope & Main, Rhode Island’s Premier Culinary Incubator and the Culinary Content Director for Drexel University’s CHEF-WPM project.


Rachael Jackson

Rachael is a food journalist and the founding editor of, which uses images and fun, science-based articles to help home cooks assess “questionable-looking” food. Rachael also promotes low-waste cooking and speaks on consumer food waste reduction to audiences ranging from Girl Scouts to government agencies. She has written about food waste for publications including The Washington Post and and serves on the board of the DC Food Recovery Working Group. She’s excited to read about your food-waste-fighting adventures!

Rules and Guidelines

  1. You may enter as many times as you want.

  2. Your recipe may be based on an already published recipe, but you should explain how you tweaked it to work with what you had.

  3. You do not need to write out a formal recipe with specific ingredients or instructions–but if you want to, we won’t stop you!

What happens to the recipes?

Recipes and dishes, even those that don’t win the top prizes, may be featured on the websites and social media accounts of Food Waste Prevention Week website, Ends & Stems and EatOrToss. We’re most likely to feature recipes with photos so, include those if you can!

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