Finding new ways to utilize leftovers is a helpful skill for those of us who appreciate a little variety or simply prefer not to eat the same exact things every day. This applies to food cooked at home, saved from meals eaten out, or even takeout leftovers stored in the fridge.
Let’s talk about some easy tips to repurpose these leftovers into simple and tasty meals suitable for the next day or even throughout the whole week! This is a great tool to avoid waste, save money, and have fun in the kitchen.
#1 Make large batches – This tip is highly efficient because cooking in bulk is an excellent way to save money by using more affordable ingredients. Batch cooking is great for having meals on hand throughout the week for the whole family without having to cook every single night.
#2 Freeze leftovers – This next tip can be used when batch cooking, buying meals, or even bringing leftovers home from meals eaten out. Freezing is incredibly convenient for on-the-go families or working parents who don’t always have time to cook. Freezing chilis, soups and stews guarantees future meals that are nutritious and readily available.
#3 Try a hearty sauce – Making a sauce from scratch may sound like a lot of work but trust me when I say that it is worthwhile! A hearty sauce can be made with leftover vegetables from the fridge and the addition of meat adds a sufficient amount of protein. Use the sauce throughout the week on top of your grain of choice for a truly balanced meal – I like whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, chickpeas, and rice.
#4 Follow a versatile recipe – Recipes like meatloaf, egg salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad are not only healthy but also very diverse in their application! Add any of these dishes to a salad, grain bowl, sandwich, lettuce wrap, or as a snack with crackers and veggies. I love this option for repurposing leftovers because it feels like having a new meal each day without getting bored!
#5 Create new flavor profiles – Add herbs, spices, and sauces from your pantry to change the flavor of any dish. Try adding red pepper flakes or hot sauce for a kick of spice or some fresh squeezed lemon or lime for tartness. Sauces can restore moisture to leftovers – Use a pasta sauce, a drizzle of olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, or salsa!
Once you learn some easy tricks to transform what’s already in your fridge, you can save money and reduce wasted food while still eating something healthy and delicious. When it comes to repurposing leftovers, don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new. Remember there are truly no mistakes and you might even discover a spin on an old recipe that the family loves. Here are some ideas to start you off!
Leftover Roasted Veggies:
Add to salads, omelets, soups, stews, and chilis!
Grilled chicken, baked fish, and hard-boiled eggs can be chopped into smaller pieces and added to salads, sandwiches, fried rice, and pasta dishes.
Add ground meat or chopped-up hamburger patties to chilis, casseroles, or tortillas for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas!