From leftover to luscious meal

Leiden: the city of students, which are the future of our planet. Leiden is also a possible frontrunner in sustainability. These two aspects are opportunities to make Leiden a sustainable city, like the municipality wishes for by 2030. In a city with an abundance of students, loads of food is eaten. Because without food, there won’t be any nutrition for the brain to study. And let a diet just be where there is a lot is to gain in sustainability.








Of all the food produced, the percentage of food that is thrown away is estimated between one-third and one-half. That just makes your stomach turn, right? Certainly when you think of it this way: most of the food that is thrown away is still good and edible. It is lost in production, during transport or in our own houses. A movement towards a circular economy would be a more efficient way to use food. In a circular economy, raw materials are optimally used. Reduce, reuse and recycling are keywords for this system: reduce the amount of needed raw materials; reuse products instead of buying new ones; and recycle as much as possible. A circular economy can for example include the use of leftovers.

In Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague special pop-up restaurants have popped up for leftover food, called Instock. Leftover doesn’t sound very delicious, but it really can be. Products with today’s date from supermarkets cannot be sold anymore, but can still be very tasty. Other examples of thrown away food are ‘ugly’ vegetables.

‘Ugly’ vegetables

Producers think the products need to look good for the consumers, but when the food is on your plate, you will not taste the difference between a round pepper and one with a bump on it. In the United States of America is even a business in ugly vegetables! And when an apple is beginning to bruise, they can still make apple pie out of it. But, the stores cannot use products out of date, because that’s not in line with the law.

Of course, this is not a fully circular economy. It will not be feasible to create a complete full circle of the food web, because there will always be a percentage of produced food that’s simply not tasty anymore. You also have products that do not expire quickly that always needs to be bought in pop-up stores like these. In Instock, it’s about 20 % of the dinner that must be bought, like oil and dairy. The leftovers of the leftovers – products out of date or bruised – can be used as fuel (bio-gas) or fed to the animals in the petting zoo. In this way, even these leftovers can be used well. It is a good start into sustainability.

For Leiden, a pop-up store like Instock can be an opportunity. As a student, I like to eat out. In this restaurant, you will get a prepared three-course meal for little money. There are enough supermarkets to provide the restaurants in their needs and enough students as customers. I would definitely eat there!


4 thoughts on “From leftover to luscious meal”

  1. It’s interesting that you explained that you could eat at Instock for little money, I had lunch at the one in The Hague and it was 10 euro which seemed a little expensive for getting all of their food for free. Maybe there is an even cheaper alternative?


    1. Thank you for your comment! I think you have to see it this way: Instock is a company without profit, so the money they receive for the meals is spent on paying chefs, renting the building, publicity for their name etcetera. It is true they are getting most of their food for free, but they still make costs in the process to make a meal.
      So yes, there maybe is a cheaper alternative, but I think the price you pay for a meal at Instock is a fair price.


  2. I like how supermarkets like Albert Heijn give away the so-called ‘ugly fruits and veggies’ to Instock, but they could also follow the initiative of the French supermarket Intermarché. They started selling ugly fruits and vegetables in their own aisle with a discount of 30%, which happened to be a great success and which is also a cheaper alternative to eating at Instock! I recommend watching this video: Unfortunately, Intermarché is still working on implementing this in all supermarkets throughout the country, but I have faith that in the future we can buy the beautiful ugly fruits and veggies in many more supermarkets!


    1. Thank you for a new view on this subject! This is a wonderful initiative and every supermarket should implement this in their store, also in The Netherlands! In this way, a lot of food waste is saved and the consumers pay less money for their vegetables. Leiden could do this too. I can see a future without judging a vegetable by its look!


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