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Using Leftovers

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Take Out Containers in Refrigerator

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.

Solutions: Using Leftovers

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Stretching One Meal Into Five

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!

  1. The first night, cook it as a pot roast, using plenty of water and some onions, potatoes, celery and carrots. Season well. I like Cajun seasoning, but salt and pepper are great.
  2. The second night, slice it thin and serve it next to mashed potatoes and green beans.
  3. The third day, have it for lunch. Make a sandwich with good whole wheat bread, guacamole and thin slices of beef. Have an apple on the side.
  4. The fourth day, you should be able to pull it apart after all that heating and chilling. Shred and put into warm tortillas. Add cheese, salsa and whatever you like for tacos. Or, saute some onions and peppers and wrap them with the meat in the tortilla and serve as a fajita. Sour cream is nice, but so is plain yogurt, so use what you have on hand.
  5. This night, there are only scraps left, but still plenty of broth in the pan. Thicken the broth with a mixture of flour and water, then add a little milk if you want. Taste it for seasoning. Stir in the little bits of roast beef, scraping up the browned pieces on the bottom of the pan, and serve over a slice of bread or a biscuit alongside potatoes (which enjoy a bit of gravy on their own) and maybe some corn with butter and salt. Sometimes I mix in a tad of sugar if the corn isn't very sweet on its own.

That is how two people made five meals out of one roast this week, and didn't get tired of it even once.

By Coreen from Rupert, ID

Tip: Salad Night to Use Up Leftovers

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

Tip: Using Leftovers For A Different Dinner

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.

  • If I have scalloped potatoes left, I warm the leftovers a bit, mash them with a masher or an immersion blender and add a few things to make a wonderful bit of potato soup.

  • Warm the mac and cheese and ham and put it over hot dogs or hamburgers in a bun, Rachael Ray style.

  • When I am frying onions and peppers for sausages or some other meal, I fry enough to use some for a breakfast omelet.

  • Extra lasagna can become a wonderful soup as well. Cut it up and put it in a chicken or beef stock and add more tomatoes and more seasoning and you have an Italian soup with pasta and veggies. Use up some left over zucchini in the soup as well if you have it.

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

Tip: 5 Things To Do with Leftover Stew

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

Tip: Using Leftover Dips

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. Onion and garlic dips are good in mashed potatoes. All kinds of dips are good in vegetable casseroles, use you imagination and never throw away leftover dips!


By Bobbie from Rockwall, TX

Tip: Using Up Leftovers

Using up leftovers in new dishes:

  • Use leftover white gravy in dishes that call for white sauce. Extra benefit, if your gravy is the seasoned type such as "black pepper gravy", your white sauce will already be seasoned.

  • Use leftover cream corn in cornbread. This makes for a very moist delicious cornbread.

  • Save all leftover vegetables such as corn, beans, etc. to use in a future soup or casserole. Small amount of leftover meats can also be saved and used in soup, also leftover rice, macaroni, pasta. Just freeze all until needed.

  • Leftover breads can also be frozen and used many ways such as toppings, future dressing, etc.

Use your imagination and SAVE those leftovers

By

Tip: Counting on Leftovers for Another Meal

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. This really stretches that box of Rice-a-Roni, plus making it a little different every time. ;o) The possibilities are endless.>

By Virginia B. from Charles City, IA

Recipe: Junk Pie

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

Tip: Reheating Leftovers In The Crockpot

I had a lot of small containers of leftovers after Thanksgiving; and wanted to heat everything at once but didn't have enough pans to do the job. I took real Mason (canning jars) and put the individual foods into each jar and put broth (water would be fine) and meat in the bottom of the crockpot around the jars (not touching each other). I put the crockpot on low and went out to church. When I came home, my dinner was ready! Wish I had thought of this years ago. Now I will heat leftovers this way often.

Tip: Eat Your "Encores"

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. She said this was especially handy when having company.

If it were mentioned that, say for instance, "Chicken Broccoli Encore", only you and your husband would know, you'd had the meal previously. Something else she'd do was to never have the same meal, 2 nights in a row. After a meal, anything leftover, got bagged up, identified with dish name and date and stashed in the freezer for another time.

By Terri from NV

Tip: Keep Leftovers In Small Containers

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

Tip: Trading Leftovers with Neighbors

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. Each family gets a NEW leftover meal.

By Dorothy

Tip: Using Leftovers For Dinner

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. The only one who is sad is the family dog; not as many leftovers for her!

By Joyce

Tip: Make Plans for Your Leftovers

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.

By Joan

Tip: Taco Dip From Leftovers

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.

Layer your ingredients in a plastic container. We always have refried beans, taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and sour cream left over. It makes a great dip for the next day and uses up all the leftover ingredients for the tacos.

By

Recipe: Pasta a'la Leftovers

Pasta.

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

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups cooked pasta
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 lb Italian turkey sausage
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Steps:

  1. Brown turkey sausage and onion.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Mix pasta, sausage, onion, spinach, sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until top starts to brown.

By

Tip: Using Leftover Party Food

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. I make sure I help out by putting portions in the bags and help hand them out as guests leave. Those who receive the goods are happy when they get home and those who bought the food are glad there is no waste.

By Lynn

Tip: Delicious Add-ins From Leftovers

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. A limited grocery budget often requires that I engage in some creative cooking. I have found some surprisingly delicious ways to incorporate unexpected items into traditional recipes.

Homemade Pizzas

Homemade pizzas give me the opportunity to add in a mixture of whatever vegetables, fruit, and leftover meat I have on hand. Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and numerous other vegetables can be added to the usual green pepper, onion, and tomato topping on a traditional vegetable pizza. A breakfast pizza with cream cheese and a variety of fruit is a wonderful weekend treat or can be used as a dessert.

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce is much like pizzas, carrots and broccoli are great add-ins. For a surprisingly tart and delicious sauce, I toss in dried cranberries that I keep on hand to add to oatmeal, cereal, or homemade muffins and bread.

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a standby recipe for me and there's a variety of items that can be added to it. Left over ham, chicken, bacon, or ground beef are common add-ins. If I have a small amount of leftover green peas, peppers, onions, celery, or tomatoes I add them to my standard macaroni and cheese recipe.

Pasta Salad

There's almost no limit to the variety of fruits and vegetables you can add to a pasta salad.

Omelets

Omelets also offer an abundant opportunity to use up small amounts of leftovers.

By VeronicaHB from Asheboro, NC

Article: Recycled Dinners as Easy as 1-2-3

Recycled Dinners as Easy as 1-2-3

Recycled Dinners as Easy as 1-2-3

As grocery prices rise, the skill of recycling leftovers becomes even more valuable (as if it weren't already crucial in most family meal planning.) To ease the strain of grocery shopping as well as meal planning, try a 1-2-3 recycling plan to lengthen the life of your leftovers.

Step 1

Step 1 involves making a meal large enough to provide substantial leftovers for steps 2 and 3. It wouldn't be frugal to make more than needed; instead, think of meals that already offer leftovers. Roasts, chickens, and cookouts usually put some leftovers in a family's refrigerator.

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.

Step 2

Step 2 occurs a little later in the week. This is the typical 'leftovers' step that uses leftovers from one meal to create another. Use the hamburgers left from the cookout to make chili. Even if the hamburgers were heavily seasoned, it will only add to the flavor of this new meal. Another alternative is to make sloppy joes from the hamburger. Again, the extra seasoning is a bonus.

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.

Step 3

Step 3 meals are made from leftovers' leftovers. While Step 3 meals often are smaller 'quick' meals or even lunches rather than dinners, they can be hearty meals if planned 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.

By Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Tip: "Clean Out The Fridge" Dinner

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

Tip: Ways to Use Up Leftovers

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

Tip: Remember The Leftovers Instead Of The Drive Thru

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.

Tip: Make Soups With Any Leftovers

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. To boost the protein, which helps fill everyone up, without expensive meat, add a can of beans. They provide great fiber, they're lowfat, unlike meat, and they can be found for so little money.

By Lori from Texas

Tip: Leftover Pizza Toppings In Omelets

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.

We beat the eggs with a little milk, salt, pepper and a dash of paprika. Pour this into greased skillet, then remove pizza toppings from the crust and add on top of egg mixture. Let bottom cook then fold over and we usually flip a couple times to make sure center is cooked through.

We never actually measure any of the ingredients, so just go by how much you need and your own taste as to what and how much to put in. This is something my husband came up with and even our little ones love it. They call it Pizza Eggs.

By Betty from VA

Tip: Conscious Decision to Have Leftovers

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. After dinner, all the leftovers were refrigerated individually.

Today, I defrosted and heated homemade chicken broth, added a diced carrot and cooked, then added the peas to the pot, then the rice and finally the diced chicken meat. I adjusted seasonings to our preferences (more pepper, more parsley, a touch of onion salt) and with next to no effort, I have homemade chicken rice soup.

There won't be so much as a morsel of that pot left over!

By Ronsan

Tip: Planned Leftovers with Mac and Cheese

Left-Over Mac and Cheese makes great planned-overs.

1. Add celery, onion, relish, mayo to make a great mac & cheese salad. (For additional pizzaz, add a can of tuna)

2. Add to veggie or tomato soup for added texture.

By ww65barb

Tip: Using Leftover Scalloped Potatoes

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. Makes a great base for potato creamed soup with your choice of seasonings or other casserole base.

By Ronsan

Tip: Make An Omelette with Leftovers

An omelette is a great way to use up bits of leftovers-any cooked vegetables, meats and cheeses can be tucked inside.

By Linda

Tip: Make Your Own Frozen TV Dinners

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. When you need a meal just remove the foil and pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high or 5-6 minutes at 1/2 power.

By Beth

Tip: Sandwich Spread from Leftover Meat

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. Then she used it as a lunch meat spread. I usually add mayo and mustard to it, and whatever seasonings you used on the meat adds good flavor to it.

By Cali

Tip: Make Vegetable Broth with Leftovers

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. You can use it as a base for soup or to flavor foods like mashed potatoes! Just a tip, strongly flavored veggies like broccoli or peppers are not as good for broth, save those separately for other uses.

By Suzanne

Tip: Clean the Refrigerator Soup

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. I used to work with a woman I called the "Bird", who specialized in making something out of nothing. The residents where we worked looked forward to "Bird's" soup each and every Friday. We never knew how it would be, but the refrigerator got clean on Friday of all its leftovers!

Because of this, I learned to take leftovers of any kind and turn them into a wonderful, filling, and delicious soup. Taste as you go. I use ham and bacon with beef and chicken. Leftover Hamburger Helper or any pasta/beef dish makes a wonderful taco soup with just a few spices and water added. Did you know that leftover corned beef juice makes the best potato soup? You don't even need to add meat, because the flavor is already there.

By Helpful Reader

Tip: Clean The Refrigerator Soup

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. I used to work with a woman I called the "Bird", who specialized in making something out of nothing. The residents where we worked looked forward to "Bird's" soup each and every Friday. We never knew how it would be, but the refrigerator got clean on Friday of all its leftovers!

Because of this, I learned to take leftovers of any kind and turn them into a wonderful, filling, and delicious soup. Taste as you go. I use ham and bacon with beef and chicken. Leftover Hamburger Helper or any pasta/beef dish makes a wonderful taco soup with just a few spices and water added. Did you know that leftover corned beef juice makes the best potato soup? You don't even need to add meat, because the flavor is already there.

By Helpful Reader

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