A new recipe competition has been launched - but this is one with a difference.

The contest will not seek to find the perfect sponge or to win a place on a restaurant menu.

The competition is to find the best dishes which can be made from leftovers.

The contest is being run by Colchester Council, with support from the Essex County Standard.

The aim is to ask residents and readers to share their top tips on the tastiest dish which can be made from disguarded meals - and show there is more to leftovers than bubble and squeak.

The competition also has a serious side - a bid to encourage people not to waste food which will save money on the food bill.

Figures show a third of the food we buy ends up in black sacks which also adds to the rubbish thrown into landfill.

The waste equals £610 per average family each year.

Tina Dopson, Colchester Council's portfolio holder for performance and partnerships, is championing the cause.

She said: “With increases in the cost of food and the effects food waste has on our environment we need to start being creative with what we already have.

"Turning leftovers into a tasty dish is an excellent way to save both money and the environment.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the many ways Colchester residents are already supporting the national Love Food, Hate Waste campaign by being creative in the kitchen and showing others how easy it is to cut the amount of food wasted.”

The competition is open to all Colchester borough residents and recipes must include genuine leftovers from previous meals but can use additional ingredients as well.

A judging panel will shortlist five finalists to be entered into a cook-off event on November 17 hosted by Colchester Institute’s award-winning hospitality and food studies department. The five recipes will also feature in a leftovers recipe booklet.

The winning chef will also receive a prize and will have their dish featured in the spring 2009 issue of the council’s residential magazine.

Entries should be sent in by November 3 detail the name of the dish, quantities of ingredients, cooking instructions and time and how many people it serves.

Only one entry is allowed per person and they should be sent, along with your name, address, telephone number and email address, freepost to: Colchester’s Tastiest Leftovers Dish Competition, Freepost NAT4433, Strategic Waste, PO Box 885, Colchester, CO11ZE.

They can also be emailed to recycling@colchester.gov.uk. For full terms and conditions of entry please visit www.colchester.gov.uk/recycling or call 282430.