It's possible to make money from your leftovers

make money leftovers

By Gwen Lloyd-Wiggins

We’re all guilty of it. You go out, buy a packet of instant noodles, only to get home and realise they’re the wrong flavour. The noodles get left to languish in the cupboard (or worse, thrown out completely!) and you’re left a few quid out of pocket. It’s no fun for anyone. In fact, it’s estimated that the UK wastes £17 million worth of food every year, the equivalent to 10 million tonnes. That’s a lot of instant noodles.

Olio is an app that is trying to combat that wastage. It works on a basic principle: share your unwanted food with people in your local area. The best thing is, you can even ask for money for items that you upload, so it’s a nice way to make a bit of pocket change.

If you’ve used services like Freecycle you’ll understand the basic concept. Once you’ve uploaded your surplus food to the app, wait for someone to agree to come and take it off your hands. Then, arrange to meet up (or use one of the Olio drop boxes if there’s one nearby), and leave with the satisfaction of helping out a fellow human (and possibly making a little bit of money too!)

Check out our list for even more apps to help you make money.

If you do want to ask for money, you can’t ask for anything more than 50% of what you bought them for, but it can be a nice way to get rid of some of the food that’s been relegated to the back of the cupboard for months. As long as the food is before its “use by” date (different from the “best before” date), you can put it on the app. You shouldn’t list anything that’s too damaged, though, so you can’t sell off the nasty looking onion you found under the fridge.

You can even offer leftovers (as long as you follow the same guidelines) and if you’re going away on holiday, why not try to sell some of the food that’s left in the fridge before it goes off? It takes seconds to upload an item, and you’d be surprised what people want, especially if they can get it for next to nothing!

If you’ve not got anything to sell on the app, it’s still a really useful way to get cheap (or even free) food! Just download the app, make an account, and see what people nearby are offering. If you’re willing to travel, you can get some really good stuff. I’ve seen people offering everything from unopened jars of Nutella (I know, I couldn’t believe it either!), pesto, and pasta sauce, to teabags, gluten-free cereal, and packaged soup, all for free! There’s even a non-food section on Olio where people offer microwaves, lamps, Play-Doh, sieves, and even perfume.

If you’re having a clear out look at our ways to make money by decluttering for more ways to profit from it.

It’s easier to use Olio in densely populated areas, some places around the country don’t have many users, but you can also sign up to be an ambassador and get your friends involved. It’s a great way to build a sense of community, or just get some free food. You can set up food-sharing parties or events, and some ambassadors even arrange to collect surplus food from supermarkets to put on the app, food that would otherwise end up in the bin.

So if you fancy helping the environment, and potentially making a bit of money while you’re at it, give Olio a try. You can download it here. There’s another new app exclusively for restaurants to sell off food that’s about to be thrown out called Too Good To Go, that might also be useful for getting food on the cheap.

Always be careful when arranging to meet strangers. Pick a public place, let people know where you’re going, and if possible take a friend with you.

Like free food? You’ll love our Ultimate Guide to Food and Drink, and for more ways to cut food waste see our 7 kitchen hacks to save money and time.