Recipes using leftovers have been growing more popular as they help homemakers reduce waste and save time in the kitchen.
Expecting this trend to contribute to sales of their products, food manufacturers have been moving to promote recipes using leftovers on their websites and through television commercials.
“Soy sauce and mayonnaise go together very well,” Yoko Kubota, a company official from Noda, Chiba Prefecture, said of a salad she made using leftover simmered dried radish with salted cucumbers, topped with mayonnaise and sesame.
The salad has become one of her daughter’s favorites and has also won a good response from users on Cookpad, one of Japan’s most popular recipe-posting websites.
“What I like is that I can enjoy with my family refashioning leftovers into an entirely new meal that no one would have thought of,” she said.
Another popular recipe on the Cookpad site is a pancake using leftover rice. It was created by Seiko Tabata, a craft artist from Akishima, western Tokyo.
To make the pancake, you just need to mix the rice and flour with water, bake it on a pan and dip it in soy sauce mixed with sugar. It can be either a dish for dinner or a snack for children, she said.
Tabata regularly uses up leftovers and even what would usually be thrown away, including vegetable peels.
“If you try not to waste any food or ingredients, you can reduce the amount of kitchen garbage and also save on your food budget,” she said.
As of late July, the number of recipes posted under the leftovers category stood at nearly 8,000, according to Cookpad Inc., operator of the website.
Among particularly popular recipes are those using curry and “nikujaga” — simmered meat and potatoes — and ingredients from other meals that are usually made in large quantities and can’t be eaten in one sitting.
“The number of searches for recipes using leftovers is greater during weekdays than weekends, which may indicate that people want to prepare such dishes during weekdays when they are busy,” said Yuko Maruyama, director of public relations at Cookpad.
Food manufacturers have also jumped on the bandwagon.
Ajinomoto Co. started airing TV commercials in fall 2011 for recipes using leftovers with the company’s consomme stock cubes.
The maker of seasonings and pre-made meals also posts on its website and in brochures 23 well-balanced dishes it claims can be made easily and which appeal to both children and adults.
“We thought that if we could help our customers make a wide variety of dishes, they would use more stock cubes,” said Daizaburo Koga, an official in the company’s household business division.
“In fact, sales of the stock cubes have surged since we posted those recipes,” Koga said.
House Foods Corp. also introduced recipes such as a rice casserole topped with cheese, and spring rolls using leftover curry, and has increased the number of such recipes due to strong customer interest.