Oh, how much I have learned over the years! When I was first married, some
10 years ago, I wasted so much leftover food. I wasted leftovers not because
we were the wealthiest couple in our neighborhood (definitely not), but
because I was 1) unorganized in the general running of my home, and 2) I had
no idea what to do with them, other than serve them exactly the same the next
day for lunch or dinner.
I have learned a lot in the last 10 years of my marriage, and one important
thing I have learned is how to not waste food. No, I am not going as far as
scraping the leftover peas from my son's plate into the recycled margarine
tub, but I do think I do a pretty good job of saving money by giving many of
my leftovers a complete makeover! Here are some of my ideas:
COOKED RICE: If you have enough leftover rice, you can make a wonderful
rice pudding or fried rice. If you have a small amount, mix it into ground
beef for your next meatloaf or into your meatballs. You can also add it to
canned soup, such as cream of tomato, or mix it into a salad.
PASTA: Heat leftover pasta in a pan with some butter or margarine and
parmesan cheese...delicious side dish!
MEATLOAF: Crumbled meatloaf can be used in any meal calling for cooked
ground beef, such as tacos.
BAKED BEANS: This summer I made a large batch of homemade baked beans for a
family get-together, and I had quite a bit of leftovers. To makeover the
baked beans, I put them in the crockpot with 1 lb. of cooked ground beef, a
large can of crushed tomatoes, and chili seasoning to make chili.
BREAD: If your bread is getting a little stale, consider letting it dry out
to make your own breadcrumbs. Another option is to make french toast with
day-old bread. Just follow your usual recipe, and then place the french
toast on a cookie sheet and "flash freeze" in your freezer. When frozen,
remove and place in a freezer-suitable container for easy breakfast any
HAMBURGER/HOTDOG BUNS: Do you have just one or two buns left in the package?
Freeze them each time you do, and when you have several saved up, make
cheesy toast with them. Just remove them from the freezer, let them thaw
slightly (no need to be fully thawed), separate the top from the bottom,
spread with soft margarine or butter and top with parmesan cheese. Broil
until lightly brown in your broiler.
ROAST: Leftover roast can be used in a variety of ways, but my favorite way
is to cook it in a crockpot with seasonings until you are able to shred it.
I then use it to make shredded beef tacos.
STEAK: Much like the roast above, I enjoy using leftover steak by slicing it
very thin, cooking it in a pan with sliced green bell pepper and onion,
adding some fajita seasoning and making fajitas.
BAKED POTATOES: Never waste your extra baked potatoes! If you only have one
or two, they are excellent cut up and fried in a pan. If you have several
extras, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp. Place the
potatoe pulp in a bowl and add any of the following until light and fluffy:
milk, margerine/butter, shredded cheese, cheddar cheese soup, chives, bacon,
sour cream. Place the mixture back into the potatoe shells and top with
additional shredded cheese, if desired. Place in oven until hot for yummy
twice baked potatoes. If you prefer, freeze your twice baked potatoes in the
freezer for a meal another day. Still want another option? Leftover baked
potatoes are perfect for making "Baked Potatoe Soup":
1 stick butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/3 cups potatoe flakes
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 medium potatoes (baked)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon,
Saute' onions in butter and add flour, stirring constantly. Add water and
chicken stock and keep at medium heat. Set aside. To onions mixture add
potatoe flakes, milk, and heavy cream; let simmer. Cut baked potatoes into
bite sized chunks, add to soup and heat until all ingredients are heated.
Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve topped with cheese and bacon, if
MASHED POTATOES: Mashed potatoes can easily be madeover.
TURKEY OR CHICKEN: Leftover turkey and chicken is one of the most versatile
leftovers. By using just meat (removing bone and skin), you can make
sandwiches with the meat sliced, chicken or turkey salad sandwiches, or even
make enchiladas or tacos. I have also made a delicious turkey/chicken noodle
soup by boiling the bones that still have some meat left on them. I carefully
remove all of the bones, and then add carrots, onion, peas, and potato and
cook until tender. Add egg noodles and cook until done.
STALE CEREAL: Just about any corn-based cereal, even Capt. Crunch, can be
used to coat chicken. Just crush the cereal well, dip your chicken pieces in
an egg wash, and roll in the crushed cereal. Bake according to your favorite
oven baked chicken recipe.
HAM: About once or twice a year, our family enjoys a nice ham for dinner.
We always have leftovers, most of which get used on sandwiches, but I always
save some of the ham for a casserole and/or my Split Pea Soup:
1 lb. dry split green peas
2 quarts of water (8 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely copped
1 tsp. salt
2 cups ham, chopped
Rinse and drain peas. Combine with ingredients in pot. Bring to boiling;
reduce heat. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour or until nearly smooth,
stirring occasionally. Makes 8 servings.
Reprinted with permission.
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