Save a ruined dinner and revive a kitchen mishap with these tips and tricks


| Tips & Tricks | How to repurpose and revive seemingly ruined dinners

How to repurpose and revive seemingly ruined dinners

Everyone has faced it – a slip-up in the kitchen turns dinner into a burnt or overcooked mess. An oversight in seasoning makes the meal too salty, or you find the vegetables intended for dinner wilted and unappealing at the back of the fridge. Is it possible to salvage the dinner? Definitely!

We have a collection of tips and tricks to refresh sad-looking vegetables, rectify those kitchen mishaps, and morph seemingly doomed dinners into imaginative culinary creations.


Whether it’s a burnt pot of stew, beans or chilli mince, jams and chutneys, there are a few different tricks you can try to help salvage it.

First, remove the burnt pot of food from the heat, and without scraping the burnt area scoop out the mixture into a new pot, cover with a damp cloth for 10 minutes, this will remove most of the burnt flavour.

You can draw out more of the burnt flavour or bitterness by adding sugar or honey, or an acidic ingredient such as lemon or lime juice or vinegar. Adding in a chopped raw potato may help draw out the burnt flavours in soups or stews.


A quick soak in icy water for about 10 minutes is often enough to revive wilted vegetables, but some will take longer.

As a guide these vegetables can be reinvigorated using the quick soak method: lettuces, leafy greens, cabbage, beetroot, limp celery, asparagus, and carrots. If the vegetable is quite dry and floppy it may need to be chopped before soaking in the icy water so the water can be absorbed through the areas where it has been cut.

For celery and asparagus, place in a jar of water cut side down, like a cut flower. If you’ve got space in your fridge place the bowl or jar of water with the veggies in the fridge as this helps them get crisper.


There are a few tips to neutralise salt in dishes like soups, stews, sauces, and casseroles. Try adding:

  • An acid ingredient, such as citrus juices, vinegars, and tomato paste.
  • Something creamy, like dairy cream, coconut cream, oat milk, sour cream, ricotta cheese.
  • A bit of sugar, maple syrup, or honey helps to counteract some of the saltiness.
  • Raw potatoes, these will soak up some of the water and the excess salt in it.
  • Or diluting the mixture with unsalted broth, water, or tinned tomatoes.

Any of these additions will suit certain dishes more than others so keep in mind what flavours you are wanting for the dish and choose the extra ingredient based on that.


Overcooked vegetables often end up mushy and lacking in flavour. One idea is to transform it into a hearty soup by simply blending the mushy veggies with some broth, seasonings, and herbs. Or try turning them into a savoury puree to serve as a base for delicious beef or lamb.

You can also turn overcooked vegetables into a sauce or dressing by blending with dairy or coconut cream and stir through pasta or a salad. Alternatively, blend the vegetables with some chickpeas, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice to make a veggie hummus.


It’s easy to turn slightly stale or frozen bread and burger buns into something that tastes and smells like it’s just popped out of the oven. Quickly run the bread or buns under a tap, pop in into a preheated oven (160°C) for about 5-10 minutes, till they are crunchy on the outside and warmed through.

Stale chips and crackers may lose their crunch, but you can easily revive them. Again, place them in a preheated oven at about 160C for a few minutes to restore their crispiness, just keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn. Alternatively, consider turning them into breadcrumbs for coating, binding, or topping. Used as a topping, crushed stale chips and crackers can also add a delightful crunch on casseroles, cheesy pasta bakes or be used to coat a schnitzel.

Whether your food is overcooked, burnt, salty, wilted, or stale, with a touch of creativity and some resourceful thinking, you can often salvage these kitchen mishaps and turn them into delicious triumphs.

Thanks to our friends at Love Food Hate Waste for allowing us to share their blog. For more food waste reduction ideas head along to their website.


Posted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand