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Waste not, want not: most googled leftover recipes

Lockdown helped to turn many a kitchen shy-away into a culinary connoisseur but honing these budding skills means that we need to learn to get creative with our leftovers. The question is, how?

While eating out may be back on the menu, many of us are still loving using our newfound talents to cook up some homemade delights in our kitchens. But how do we make the most of our leftovers?

We’ve all fallen prey to the common kitchen faux pas of accidentally boiling enough pasta to serve a family of four or baking an ever-rising loaf that would feed the five thousand – but with food sharing being a no-no at the moment, this new generation of Nigellas have been busy cooking up a storm with their leftovers.


Our research method

Armed with a list of the UK’s most popular foods, we used Google search data to discover which ingredients have become regulars in our kitchens throughout the peak months of lockdown: from March to July. Here’s what we found – it might surprise you…

As lockdown came into play in March, we immediately saw social media flooded with mouth-watering snaps of new and ingenious kitchen concoctions. From recipes made with leftover bread to more complicated creations like leftover lamb biryani, we wanted to discover what us Brits had been craving the most.

The most searched for leftover ingredients of 2020

With a staggering combined result of just under a million searches, it’s clear the UK remains a nation of meat lovers. Perhaps unsurprisingly though, chicken is the most popular choice, with a grand total of 424,250 searches. This versatile meat is a healthy family favourite and works well in many dishes, but what’s the nation’s favourite way to serve up leftover chicken?

Coming in at an additional 1,200 searches compared to the same time last year, a classic chicken soup is the dish that we’ve had a hankering for the most. Through the sweltering summer days and week-long downpours, a comforting soup is just what we’ve been craving whilst we were stuck indoors.

Another popular craving – and next on the list of the most searched-for ingredients – is bread. With ample spare time on our hands at the beginning of lockdown, a baking craze swept the nation and we saw supermarket shelves being emptied of flour, eggs and other baking ingredients.

As food and cooking was undoubtedly a highlight of our lockdown days, many of us were pushing our culinary limits and creating two or even three-course meals. And with an extra 4,050 searches compared to 2019, a whole host of us were wondering what starters to make with our leftover sourdough.

The most googled vegetarian ingredients

The rising popularity of vegetarianism has had a noticeable impact on the content of our fridges and recipes. Our data revealed that vegetarian recipes have seen a 334K rise in searches during lockdown – but which veggie-friendly ingredients have the nation worked into these recipes?

It seems that 2020 is the year Brits reverted back to more traditional cupboard staples, with more exotic options like pinto beans, refried beans and masa seeing fewer searches than last year. Our analysis revealed that, during lockdown, we cooked with more local veg, with cabbage being the most sought-after ingredient, followed closely by beans, spinach, and carrots.

Perhaps due to the nationwide banana bread obsession of March and April, bananas are the most searched for fruit so far this year, followed by tomatoes (believe it or not, they’re a fruit!) and strawberries.

The most searched-for leftover ingredients 2020 vs 2019

With ingredients like chicken, potatoes, and cabbage back in favour, it seems that the traditional Sunday dinner will never go out of style.

In 2020, we collectively started to embrace a more traditional palette. And when you think about serving up a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup with a crusty slice of freshly made bread, you hardly need to wonder why.

Have you become a fully-fledged kitchenista during 2020? We’d love to hear from you!

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