Leftovers, huh! We’ve all been there! You’re staring at a fridge full of previous night’s meals and are not quite sure what to do with leftovers. Should you let these not-so-appealing food items go to waste or get creative and make something delicious out of them?
Today we’ll be sharing top tips to make the use of your leftovers, from best storage practices to using up leftover chicken, leftover mashed potatoes and more. Enjoy!
Let’s Stop Wasting Food
To most folks, tossing leftovers in the bin is the quicker and more convenient option. In fact, the USDA estimates that 30 – 40% of our food ends up in the landfills.
Instead of letting these valuable ingredients go to waste, why not get creative and repurpose them into new meals? This will save you money and time in the kitchen. Plus, it’s a great way to reduce food waste and put your culinary skills to the test.
In this guide, we’ll share some golden tips to help you transform those leftovers into delicious meals and save on groceries. Let’s dig in!
1. Use Food Storage Best Practices
Getting the most out of your leftovers starts with employing food storage best practices.
Proper leftover food storage is not only important for reducing waste; it also helps keep the food healthy and fresh. Experts recommend storing the food in airtight containers immediately after a meal. It should also be consumed within two to three days to prevent food poisoning.
In addition, you can freeze your leftovers and enjoy them for up to three months. Just make sure they are properly stored in freezer-safe containers or bags before putting them in the freezer.
2. Practice Zero-Waste Cooking
The secret to leaving no leftovers is to only buy what you need.
It’s true that buying in bulk (picture a full bag of potatoes) can save you on cost. But in the real sense, it isn’t cheaper if you have to throw many of those potatoes away down the line.
Consider your meal plan, family size, and appetite when buying food to avoid leftovers. If you live solo, look for convenient solo meal kits to ensure no leftovers are left behind.
Every plate offers such meal kits complete with recipes delivered to your doorstep. Everything comes pre-portioned, so you don’t have to buy a full bottle of honey you’ll use once and end up shoving the rest into the back of the fridge.
3. Remake Leftovers Into Completely Different Meals
Cooked more than you and your family need? Fret not! You can easily repurpose the leftovers into different meals. Leftovers don’t have to go to waste.
Leftover food can be a source of inspiration, creativity, and savings. With a few tips and tricks, you can make something delicious out of them.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Make a Salad or Bowl
Salads and bowls are a healthy way to repurpose those leftovers. You can use beans, grains, greens, or even noodles as a base, then top it with any leftover roast chicken, seeds, nuts, eggs, or cheese.
Next, drizzle some dressing salsa, yogurt, or pesto for some moisture and zest. Mix everything up in a bowl or arrange it in separate sections for a colorful dish.
Use Leftovers to Make a Sandwich or Wrap
Sandwiches and wraps are another creative way to repurpose leftovers. You can use leftover bread, lettuce, pita, or tortilla as a wrapper, then fill it with any leftover ham, hummus, salad, spread, or cheese.
You can also spice it up with veggies, sauces, or herbs for extra flavor. Cut into quarters or halves, and you have a delicious breakfast or lunch. It’s a great way to save money!
Make a Soup Using Leftovers
Soup or stew is a great way to turn leftovers that are beginning to dry into a delicious meal.
You can use any cream, milk, water, or broth as a base and add any leftover meat, grilled vegetables, lentils, beans, grains, pasta, or lentils.
You can also spice it up with fresh herbs, add cheese, pepper, salt or spices. Mix them up and heat the broth in a large pot until it’s warm enough, and enjoy with bread or crackers.
If you have leftover chicken you could make a tortilla soup and serve with rice and lime juice. Who doesn’t love a good chicken soup?
Use Leftover Ham to Make Frittata or Quiche
One of the easiest ways to reinvent your leftovers is to turn them into frittata or quiche. Have any leftover ham, vegetables, herbs, or cheese?
Mix them with eggs and milk, then put the mixture into a greased skillet and bake until the eggs are puffed and opaque. Once ready, you’ll have a delicious meal for breakfast or lunch.
Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey
Leftover turkey is not the easiest ingredient to repurpose, but it doesn’t have to go to waste. Sliders are a great way to make use of that leftover turkey.
You can pair your sliders with different ingredients and dressings for flavor and texture. Serve them on buns or in lettuce wraps.
You could also use leftover turkey meat to make a turkey pot pie with a flaky crust or a healthy turkey noodle soup.
Use Leftover Rice to Make Fried Rice
Leftover rice can be used to make fried rice. Fry the cooked rice in a pan or wok with olive oil, add your choice of vegetables and spices, then stir-fry until everything is mixed together.
You can also use leftover meats (like chicken) and eggs to create an even richer flavor. Enjoy your fried rice warm or cold and top it with your favorite sauces for extra flavor.
What to Do With Leftover Fish
When my dad went fishing he would always come home proud of his catch. We would cook the fish but there would always be some leftovers.
If you have leftover pieces of fish then there are so many things you could do with it!
Making a fish pie might take a bit longer, but it’s definitely worth the effort. You can mix all your cooked fish into a creamy sauce and pour it over a base made with mashed potatoes or puff pastry.
You can make a delicious and healthy fish salad with your leftovers. Mix in some salad greens cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and a sprinkle of lemon juice.
Fish on Toast
Toast some nice bread and top it with your leftover fish. You can also add a few slices of avocado or tomatoes for fish avocado toast.
Leftover fish makes for an excellent taco filling! Take a soft flour tortilla, fill it with fish and top it with salsa or guacamole. Fish Tacos are great!
How to Use Stale Bread
Stale bread can be a tricky ingredient to work with. But don’t worry! Here are a few ideas on how to use stale bread:
- Croutons: Cut the bread into cubes and season them with herbs, spices, and olive oil. Bake in the oven until golden brown for homemade croutons that will add crunch to your salads.
- Bread Pudding: This classic dessert is so easy to make with stale bread. Soak the bread in milk, add sugar and eggs, and bake it until golden brown.
- French Toast: Dip your slices of stale bread into a mixture of eggs and milk. Fry the slices on both sides until golden brown for delicious french toast.
- Bread Crumbs: Blitz some tale bread in your food processor and you’ll have some homemade breadcrumbs in no time. You can use these for coating meats, fish or vegetables.
How to Use Leftover Bananas
I’m not sure if you have the same experience but we always tend to have leftover bananas and I do not like to throw out good fruit.
Here are some ideas on how to use leftover bananas:
- Banana Bread: Mash up your leftover bananas and add it to the mix of flour, sugar, baking soda and butter. Bake and you’ll have a tasty banana bread that makes for an excellent snack or breakfast!
- Smoothies: Blend together banana with other fruits such as raspberries, peaches and strawberries for a delicious smoothie. You can also add yoghurt or milk for added creaminess.
- Pancakes: Mash up some leftover bananas and add it to your pancake mix batter. Fry until golden brown and serve with honey, syrup or more banana slices on top
- Ice Cream: Freeze your ripe bananas on baking sheets and blend it in your food processor for a smooth creamy ice cream that’s perfect for summer nights. Top with nuts, chocolate chips or honey and enjoy.
How to Use Leftover Fruits
Fruits are a great way to add some sweetness and flavor to your meals. Here are some ideas on how to use leftover fruits:
- Muffins: Mash up any kind of fruit like pears, apples, bananas, peaches or mangoes and add it into your muffin batter for added sweetness. You can also top the muffins with some chopped nuts for a crunchy texture.
- Fruit Salad: Cut up your favorite fruits, mix them together and drizzle with honey or lemon juice for a quick and healthy snack.
- Parfait: Layer yogurt, cereal, vanilla cream and any type of fruit such as berries, pomegranates and kiwi for an easy and delicious breakfast.
- Fruit Juice: Add your leftover fruits into a blender and blend them together until you get your desired texture. You can also add some ice cubes, honey or milk to make a smoothie instead of a juice.
What to Do With Leftovers?
Repurposing leftovers is a great way to test your culinary and creativity limits. The benefits are enormous! You get to reduce waste, save on costs, and, more importantly, be environmentally responsible. So, rather than sending leftovers to waste, why not get creative and cook some new dishes for your next meal.