Everyone has leftovers to use up every once in a while. Finding a way to make use of leftovers in other meals is a great way to prevent food waste. This is a guide about using leftovers.
Need a fun way to get your family to eat leftovers? We have a "Leftover Cafe" night once a week. We decorate the table with fake flowers and candles, and play some music in the background.
Taking turns each week, one of my daughters sorts through the fridge for leftovers from recent meals. Another makes a menu listing each food available. My little one just draws pictures, while my older daughter writes descriptions similar to what you might find on a fancy restaurant menu.
One is the waitress, taking everyone's orders on a pad of paper and bringing them to the table with a French accent. I am, of course, the cook and am in charge of reheating everything. The kids think it's a blast, and actually eat more leftovers this way. Plus, it's great family time.
Who knew eating leftovers could be so fun?
By volvomom from San Diego, CA
This is one of those meals that keeps on giving and changing into something new. It's the way I have been using roast beef. We love a good roast!
That is how two people made five meals out of one roast this week, and didn't get tired of it even once.
Why the silly name? I put this together with leftovers and pantry items for dinner. My 6 year old who loves cooking and recipes asked me if I followed a new recipe or I made this one up. When I told her it was my own, she quickly responded;"Congratulations, it's very good!" I just thought that was too cute.:)
That being said, it passed the test with 4 kids. Not a single complaint, I have to admit it is really good, comfort food. The best part about it, I used leftover ground beef and potatoes that would have been tossed otherwise.
I find it very helpful personally to keep some basic pantry staples on hand for those times when you want to whip up something quick.
Approximate Time: About 10 minutes
Yield: Around 8-10
My ground beef was originally prepared with an envelope of taco seasoning added. I would suggest adding this to yours as it gives it great flavor!
I imagine this would also turn out quite tasty with leftover chicken if that is what you happen to have. Just use up those leftovers, it's like getting a free meal! :)
*You could easily half this recipe for a smaller casserole*
When we have salad night, we put out leftovers like corn, carrots, chickpeas, cold meats such as roast beef or chicken. We put them all in separate bowls and put out the salad lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, pickles, and onions, whatever you like in a salad. This is called the salad bar. All of the cooked foods can be served cold and used in your own making of your salad dinner. I have five dressings. It make the night personalized, and is a family favorite.
By Carolyn from Chilliwack, BC
While growing up, I watched my mother as she always made food for all of us. Somehow she always had enough even if extended family or friends showed up.
She would take leftover vegetables and put them in a plastic container (an empty plastic ice cream bucket works well, or even a smaller plastic container) that had a tight fitting cover. She put in anything that would go into a soup. Even tomato sauce can go in if you are making a 'kitchen sink' soup.
To this day, when I make a meal, I make more than enough for the two of us now that we are retired. I am always thinking of a way to make one meal into another.
We had baked ham the other day. We buy a large one, then I can also do scalloped potatoes and ham or ham and macaroni and cheese.
Just keep thinking of ways you can make one thing into another. If a recipe has common ingredients, you can use a leftover to help make it.
By Diane from Owego, NY
Have a "clean out the fridge" meal. Go through your cupboards, fridge and freezer and combine foods. I use old Salsa on noodles with left over cheese. This cleans out your supplies and rotates your cupboards.
By Lisa from WNY
Tips from our readers for organizing leftovers and ways to use them. It is possible to use every bit of leftovers in a different way so there is no waste.
When out running errands, it is so easy to think about going thru the drive thru at my favorite restaurant, on the way home or halfway through my errand trip. If I've finished my errands and am going home, I try to remember what's in my fridge as leftovers. This usually curbs my intent on going to the restaurant, as I always have leftovers I can have for a quick lunch. It might be a bit of tuna salad, some cold sauerkraut, a stick of mozzarella cheese and an applesauce cup, etc. It might not sound as appetizing as a fast food sandwich or my favorite hot pizza slice, but it's already paid for and ready to eat.
Make a big batch of stew, enough for leftovers. For a quick and easy meal pick one of the following and serve the leftover stew on top of cooked rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes. Super good and filling. You could also bake with biscuits on top or top with dumplings. Have fun with it. Good on a cool night and when you want a quick supper.
By dwedenoja from New Creek, WV
Here are some strategies for leftovers:
1) For pasta leftovers, like spaghetti, beat with eggs and cheese for Shipwreck. It doesn't take much pasta to make a meal of this.
2) For a small amount of leftover meat, chop it fine and make Egg Foo Young. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Beat 3 eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Heat oil in large skillet. Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Stir in 1 cup bean sprouts, 1/2 cup chopped, cooked meat, 2 tablespoons onion and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Pour 1/4 cup mixture at a time into small skillet. With broad spatula, push cooked egg up over meat to form a patty. When patties are set, turn to brown other side. Serve hot with gravy or sauce.
3) Keep an ice cream bucket or plastic coffee can in the freezer and add leftover veggies. You can also add leftover meat. When the bucket is full, thaw it out and dump it in the Crockpot for a delicious soup.
4) Larger amounts of leftover meat can be ground up to make meat salad. Add mayonnaise, mustard, relish and hard-boiled eggs to taste.
Source: Egg Foo Young recipe is from Cooks.com. My mom made the Shipwreck for us growing up. All the rest are from my own experience.
By Camilla from Atchison, KS
Living frugal? Try making two meals for the price of one. I make the commonly known American Chop Suey. We have that for two nights, it's always best the second night. Then we still have leftovers.
Approximate Time: Very little, 20 minutes ??
Source: My own streching the dollar!
I like to make up a boxed mix like Rice-a-Roni, then with leftovers I can always add more veggies, next time to what's left. I can also add the appropriate liquid, like tomato juice, milk, or mushroom soup to make soup.
When cooking a meal, look for ways that you can extend or incorporate that meal into other meals. For example, I boil my pork ribs before baking them with barbecue sauce.
I already had leftover pot roast to which I added cooked carrots and heated all in thinned leftover gravy. To this mixture, I added the cut up leftover french fries. Voila! The fries were just like regular potato pieces in the stew.
My children have always enjoyed snacks and would gladly eat them for a meal if I would allow it. Occasionally I do indulge them in a snack lunch or dinner and they think they are really getting a big treat!
Last night for dinner, we all used leftovers with a baked potato as the starter. I had several leftovers in the refrigerator. You can come up with you own leftover toppings. We will continue to do the same at our house. I covered my baked potato with leftover broccoli and cheese.
I had a lot of small containers of leftovers after Thanksgiving; and wanted to heat everything at once with not enough pans to do the job.
When ever we have pizza, we get it with onions, green peppers, olives, pepperoni, sausage, ham, cheese, and tomatoes on it. We save the leftovers to use the next morning in omelets.
I had a friend who used to call her meal leftovers "Encores". She said the word "leftovers" sounded bad and would make others dread having it for the next meal...
Plan weekly menus with two large cuts of meat to roast and then plan leftover dinners with the leftover meat. Also, use leftovers for sandwich meat for lunches. - Joan
Save containers from: Chinese Won-Ton Soup, frozen dinners, cold cut meats, to go meals, whipped topping tubs, dollar store plastic ware, etc. Perfect for packing leftover dinner for lunches the next day.
How many times have you opened the refrigerator and stared at an assortment of leftover items that needed to be used before they spoiled? I have a tight grocery budget and don't want to waste any of the items I purchase.
I find that when I make a soup with pasta in it, the pasta gets very soft when trying to serve the soup as a leftover. When I have a lot of leftover soup, I will now put it directly into a casserole dish and freeze it.
Soups are a great way to use up small amounts of meat and left over veggies. Fresh herbs that are starting to wilt can often be salvaged in these dishes.
After raising my four children, I am now "down" to one (and one who keeps coming back!) My daughter and I don't eat meat, so it's always a challenge to come up with good, fast, healthy, and yummy meals. I made this concoction last night, and it's a hit! I call it Junk Pie
In a pie plate, spread some sauce, Burger crumbles made from soy, then layer cooked pasta of your choice, Asiago cheese, some leftover cream of mushroom soup, (thinned with rice milk), more pasta, a little sauce, a different cheese. Top with some (quickly cooked in the microwave) broccoli florets, some sauce, and cheese. Bake in preheated oven (300 degrees F) for about 20 minutes. Remove, let cool a bit, then serve with a salad, and a favorite bread. It's delicious! And you can use whatever you have on hand, other veggies, or different kinds of cheeses, etc. Enjoy!
By Sue from Oneonta, NY
Leftovers need never go to waste. Cheddar and salsa dip goes well in macaroni and cheese, and on broccoli. Salsa alone is good in spaghetti sauce and over chicken breast...
As I was preparing dinner Saturday night, I made a conscious decision to have leftovers. I was sauteing chicken breasts for our meal and included one more than I would need, planned to cook frozen peas and included as a side dish a box of chicken flavored rice.
Left-Over Mac and Cheese makes great planned-overs.
Before putting something in the fridge as a leftover make sure it is in the smallest container it can be, so it will take up less space and cost less to keep cool. No sense in keeping cool a whole crock pot when there's only one bowl left of soup. By Melanie
Most of us have leftovers. Few of us have families willing to eat them. Turn your leftovers into a "new" meal. Make sure you've cooked a double batch, then trade your leftovers with a neighbor who has also cooked a double batch.
At the end of a meal I always seem to have enough left for one more serving. I put it into a divided serving dish and freeze. At the end of a week or so the cook gets a day off. Thaw and reheat. Everyone can choose which meal they would like to eat.
Use leftover white gravy in dishes that call for white sauce. Extra benefit, if your gravy is the seasoned type, your white sauce will already be seasoned.
I had leftover noodles from last weeks mac 'n cheese, and sauce and cheese from homemade pizzas sitting around needing to get used up, so I came up with this tasty dinner.
Approximate Time: 30 Minutes
Yield: 8 servings
I use the leftovers in the refrigerator to create a one-dish casserole-type recipe. I gather the leftover veggies, meat/poultry, and pasta/rice/noodles. I usually add something wet, like broth ...
An omelette is a great way to use up bits of leftovers-any cooked vegetables, meats and cheeses can be tucked inside. By Linda
Here's a tip that my DH actually taught me (lol). He grew up with having his mom take whatever leftover meat (not hamburger) and put it through the blender or food processor to grind it up
I take all of my leftovers for the week and make what I call, "Clean the Refrigerator Soup". I always make my own vegetable, and chicken broths, so I have lots of stock on hand.
A quick taco dip and making good use of leftovers. After we enjoy a meal of tacos, we usually have ingredients left over. Instead of putting all of them away in different containers to re-use for tacos, I got the idea of making a taco dip with them.
Normally I make sure I take an extra box of resealable plastic bags to family events. I choose between sandwich and quart size. There are always a lot of left-overs and the family that prepares the food usually has enough saved.
Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
After a cookout, save the leftover hamburgers from the grill in a large Ziploc bag for a Step 2 meal. The next step will require crushing them, so if one fell apart during flipping, it's perfect for this plan. Grilled chicken can also be used for a meal; just store it in the freezer a bit longer or save it for the end of the week.
After the company leaves one thing always remains at my cookouts - leftover buns. These are perfect for Step 2; save them in a Ziploc bag as well.
Deviled eggs are difficult to save. However, deviled eggs can be utilized later in meals. Save them in a storage container, and don't bother to preserve them intact. Crumbling them or chopping them will work for the recycling. They won't stay long, however, so try to use them immediately instead of waiting for a Step 3 meal. Red beet eggs can be saved and eaten later or recycled into another meal as well.
The next evening, another Step 2 meal can be made from the leftovers of the cookout. The rolls that were saved can be torn into pieces for stuffing. Cook a roast chicken dinner complete with stuffing to create a Step 2 meal. Save the leftovers from this meal to create a Step 3 meal.
The deviled eggs that were saved from the cookout should be used as soon as possible. The extra zest of the devil filling adds to the flavor. Add the chopped or crumbled eggs to tuna, potato, or macaroni salad. If you saved red beet eggs, these add a nice flavor to garden salads, but they can also be added to the previous mixtures for an unexpected surprise and a dash of color. Of course, egg salad can always be made from the leftovers as well.
Look at the leftover chicken from the roast chicken dinner (Step 2) or if there was leftover chicken from the cookout (Step 1). This can now be chopped to create a batch of chicken salad, chicken tacos, or chicken Caesar salad. Any extra spices from the cookout won't affect these meals, and the roast chicken works nicely for all three as well.
For a more hearty Step 3 dinner, save the leftovers from the chicken dinner in a different way. Chicken pot pie can be made with purchased pie crusts or even phyllo dough (aka: filo dough). From the chicken dinner (Step 2) save the leftover chicken, vegetables, and gravy. Layer in a baking dish the chicken and vegetables. Add some cooked potatoes and more vegetables if needed (a can or bag of mixed vegetables works nicely.) Pour the leftover gravy on top of the mixture. If more is needed, a can of cream of chicken soup substitutes well. Finally, cover it with a pie crust and poke holes or layer philo dough on top and coat with butter as directed. Bake at 350 degrees F until it is heated through.
Leftover scalloped potatoes that won't be used up quickly? Load them in your blender, add milk and blend to smoothness, adding milk as necessary.
Looking for ways to use your leftovers? Place individual portions of meat, veggies and dessert if desired on freezer and microwave-safe plates, cover tightly with foil, and freeze.
Keep a gallon size freezer bag in your freezer, and as you cut off tomato ends, carrot ends, have leftover onion tops or celery, place them in the bag. When the bag is full, pull out and make up a batch of vegetable broth.