Have you ever cooked a large cut of meat — say, a ham or a roast — and then had so much left over you didn’t know what to do with it? (All my large family friends are looking at me like, “No, Lisa, I have no idea what that’s like.”)
Has your fridge ever looked like a graveyard of half-eaten dishes?
Do you have family members who abhor the idea of leftovers?
Do you cringe every time you clean out the fridge at the amount of food you throw out?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are going to love this post. In it, I am going to show you how to transform tonight’s leftovers into tomorrow night’s dinner.
Repurposing leftovers is something I’ve been working on for a while, and I’m excited to share some of my strategies in this resource.
For those of you who have ever asked the question, “What do I do with this??” I give you — 50 ways to repurpose your leftovers!
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WHY YOU SHOULD REPURPOSE YOUR LEFTOVERS
Before we get to our list, let’s talk briefly about why you should repurpose your leftovers. There are six reasons I can think of right off the top of my head.
- You can take advantage of batch cooking (saving time & money)
It’s much more efficient — in time, energy, and cost — to cook a big batch of one thing and spread it out over several days.
- You won’t get tired of leftovers
Every family has their own tolerance for leftovers, but even the least picky among us get tired of the same dish after a few meals. And if you have picky family members? You can forget leftovers altogether. But when you repurpose them, it’s an entirely new meal!
- You’ll be more likely to eat them
I don’t know about you, but our fridge can sometimes become a black hole of leftovers. They go in and quickly get shoved to the back, where they remain until they start resembling a science experiment. (Oh, that’s just me? Okay, then.)Either we forget about them, there’s not enough to feed everyone, or they just don’t sound appealing anymore. But when you have a plan for repurposing them, you’re much more likely to eat them.
- You’ll waste less food …
I’ve been working my way towards having a “no-waste” kitchen, and repurposing my leftovers is a key way to achieve that. As I said, when I repurpose my leftovers, I’m less likely to forget or abandon them in the fridge. But I’m also often able to use up bits and pieces. For most of the ideas below, I don’t need large cuts of meat that will feed everyone. I can cut up what I have, add a few other ingredients, and transform my odds and ends into a delicious new dish.
- … And therefore save money
The money-saving implications of this are obvious. If I’m wasting less food, then I’m buying less food. Plain and simple.
- It saves you time
Repurposing leftovers saves me time because I don’t have to start from scratch every night. Part of the cooking or prep work for one meal has already been done for a previous night’s meal.
50 WAYS TO REPURPOSE YOUR LEFTOVERS
- Chicken salad
- Chicken Caesar Salads
- Chicken pasta salad
- Chicken enchiladas
- Buffalo Chicken
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Chicken & Rice (or any other chicken casserole)
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Ground chicken meatballs
- Turkey Tetrazzini
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Grind it up and use it like ground beef
- Use it in any recipe calling for chopped or shredded chicken
Pork (Loin or Roast)
- Pork tacos or nachos
- BBQ pork sandwiches
- Pork fried rice
- Pork Lo Mein
- BBQ pork pizza
- Stew — add some vegetables & stock
- Add to rice and beans
- Cuban sandwiches
- Pork supreme — mix with sautéed mushrooms and onions in either a cream-based or tomato-based sauce
- Ham balls
- Ham & cheese calzones
- Ham & Bean soup
- Cuban sandwiches
- Ham salad sandwiches
- Beef stroganoff
- Beef & Noodles
- Beef salad sandwiches
- Shepherd’s pie
- Asian Steak Salad
- Caprese salad w/ steak
- Slice thin on sandwiches
- Tacos – Taco Pizza
- Tacos – Stuffed peppers
- Loose meat sandwiches – Hamburger pizza
- Meatballs – Meatball subs
- Skillet meals — toss with veggies
- Quesadillas, Fajitas, Tacos, Nachos, etc.
- Rice Bowls (Rice, meat, veggies, spices)
MY FAVORITE TOOLS:
- Mixing bowls
- Knives – Great bang for your buck
- Knives – my favorites
- Food processor
- George Foreman – great as a panini press
- Instant Pot
If your fridge has ever resembled a graveyard of forgotten dinners or entries into your kid’s science fair, you are not alone. I’ve been there, too. But now that I’m learning how to repurpose my leftovers, that happens far less often. And with these 50 ideas, I hope it does for you, too.
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