In England, Sainsbury's grocery store has been rescuing bananas on a trial basis. They've sent unsold bananas to their bakery to be used in banana bread. The trial has gone so well that the chain is expanding the banana rescue efforts to 110 of its stores, according to Environment Guru, and launching pop-up, in-store "banana rescue" stations to help shoppers make good use of all the bananas they buy and take home.

These stations will have recipe inspiration, including the recipe for the store's banana bread. They'll also pull ingredients together so they're all there in one place to grab conveniently, and they even include mixing bowls and baking pans in case you need them.

I've made my share of banana bread with overripe bananas. I throw them in the freezer until I'm ready — and sometimes, the sheer number of overripe bananas in my freezer dictates that I'm ready. But bananas aren't the only thing that I make sure gets used instead of thrown out. I have ways of rescuing all sorts of produce, meat and cheese, even when there are only small amounts of them.

These are things that are always on hand in my kitchen, tools that help me rescue food that might get tossed if I didn't have them.

A stack of flatbread Flatbread is a blank canvas you can top with any small pieces of meat, cheese or vegetables you need to use up. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)
Naan or flatbread. Anything can be a topping for naan. Small amounts of meat, cheese and vegetables that need to be used up can be tossed on top with a little olive oil and you have a satisfying meal that keeps food from the trash. Try one of these 10 quick toppings for flatbread combinations or create your own combination based on what you have on hand. In a pinch, if you don't have flatbread, try using a soft tortilla.

roasted vegetables If you keep minced garlic and olive oil on hand, it's easy to roast up all the vegetables that need to get used up. (Photo: blacklightdistrict/Shutterstock)

Jarred minced garlic and olive oil. Garlic is a must when I'm roasting vegetables and about every other week I clean out all the veggies in my fridge that are hovering around the past-their-prime mark, chop them up, add some olive oil and minced garlic, and roast them. They can be the vegetable side dish for dinner that night, used as a pizza topping, added to grilled cheese or become one of these 20 ways to use roasted vegetables.

A vegetable pot pie with a spoonful missing Saving up leftover vegetables to use in pot pie is one way to rescue them. (Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch)
Freezer-proof glass container. Here's another way I rescue certain vegetables. In the winter, when I end up serving more frozen vegetables than at any other time of the year, I also end up making a lot of chicken pot pie filling on biscuits, or making regular chicken pot pie. When we have peas, corn, green beans, or carrots as a side dish and there are leftovers at the end of dinner, I toss them straight into a glass container in the freezer. When I go to make the pot pie, I use those vegetables (adding to them if necessary). Vegetables are saved from the trash and money is saved, too.

vegetable soup It's easy to use up leftover vegetables and pasta (think cut up leftover spaghetti) in a soup like this. (Photo: siamionau pavel/Shutterstock)

Chicken or beef broth. I keep boxes of organic chicken and beef broth in the pantry because they have dozens of uses, including turning leftover meat, vegetables and pasta into soup. Making soup from leftovers isn't difficult, as long as you choose a combination of leftovers with flavors that complement each other.

Zucchini bread Have an abundance of zucchini? Try making zucchini bread. It freezes well, too. (Photo: Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock)

Small loaf pans. Bananas are not the only produce that can be made into bread. Many different fruits or vegetables could be substituted for zucchini in my zucchini bread recipe. Try peeled and shredded apples, shredded carrots, peeled and chopped peaches, mashed sweet potatoes or a combination of strawberries and rhubarb. I like to use five 3.5-inch by 6-inch pans for this recipe so I can give a loaf to my mom and maybe a friend, and still have some for my family. Plus, the bread freezes well so I'll often put one loaf away to pull out on a weekend morning. If you don't have small loaf pans, this particular recipe makes two large loaves.

What do you keep on hand that makes it easy to rescue food that might otherwise get tossed?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Rescuing bananas? Why not rescue all the food in your kitchen?
Keep these cooking tools and ingredients on hand so you can rescue all sorts of food you might otherwise toss in the trash.