Need some creative ways to use leftovers? If you’re like me, the thought of throwing away food sometimes feels like throwing dollar bills into your trashcan. But there are plenty of innovative ways to use leftovers that are tasty and simple. Try these seven ways to use leftovers!
1. Throw Them in a Soup
This is one of the classic ways to use leftovers. Throwing leftover proteins like chicken in a soup with a few handfuls of carrots, some chopped parsley, and some noodles can easily make you a fast and healthy chicken noodle soup in as little as 30 minutes. Using leftovers that have already been cooked in foods like soups and stews can help you create a warmth body and flavor that otherwise would take you hours to create.
2. Make a Hearty Sandwich
Not sure what to do with those last slices of meatloaf? Or do you have a ton of leftover meatballs, but are out of pasta? Layering leftovers between a couple of slices of high quality bread makes a satisfying sandwich that’s hard to pass up. Don’t be afraid of getting creative with different proteins, veggies, and breads. Use leftover roast chicken in a sub and top it with some of last night’s salad for a nutritious and balanced lunch for work the next day.
3. Turn Beans into Hummus and Other Spreads
This is one of my best kept secrets for leftover beans and legumes! Everyone knows it totally sucks when you’re out of taco meat from taco night but still have a ton of black beans leftover. Instead of throwing them away, try draining the excess liquid and making a hummus or spread out of the beans. You can easily eat this dip with veggies, spread it on sandwiches, or add it into soups/stews for a creamy texture. Don’t be afraid to take leftovers from a meal and make something totally different out of them!
4. Make Chicken Salad out of Day Old Chicken
If you made some sort of chicken dish last night, use that protein to make chicken salad the next day. Mind you, you don’t even need to make a traditional chicken salad. Sometimes when I have leftover chicken curry in my fridge, for instance, I simply drain the excess liquid and make a chicken curry salad to spread on a bed of greens or wrap in pita bread. Don’t let various spice combinations, flavors, and cuisines keep you from finding new ways to use your leftovers.
5. Toast Stale Bread into Croutons
If you sense the bread you bought at the start of the week is about to spoil, try toasting it in your oven for a few minutes for some homemade croutons! You can even season the croutons with different dried herbs, spices, and even a sprinkling of cheese. Store bought croutons are usually fraught with refined oils and carbohydrates. Making your own is a simple and tasty way to amp up any salad.
6. Fold Leftover Veggies into an Omelet
Whenever I go out to eat, I almost always order some sautéed veggies and usually have plenty of leftovers to take home. The next morning, I fold the sautéed veggies into a few eggs and instantly have a nutritious and vitamin-rich omelet or frittata. Even if you don’t go out to eat that often, you can still use leftover veggies from the night before in an egg dish for breakfast the next morning.
7. Toss Them into a Stir-fry
When all else fails, try adding leftover veggies and proteins into a stir-fry. You’d be amazed how some leftover chicken, some steamed broccoli from a couple of nights ago, and a little soy sauce taste over a bed of brown rice! This is a fool-proof way to use up leftovers.
Using leftovers in new and exciting ways is a great method for getting your culinary juices flowing! What are some of your favorite ways to make use of leftovers?