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Ideas for Using Up Leftover Vegetables

Updated on July 27, 2009

Do you ever end up with small amounts of leftover vegetables wanting to go bad in your produce crisper? Maybe you cooked too many mushrooms or bought too many sweet potatoes. Maybe your produce is just going bad a little too quickly and you need to come up with a way to use it up before it goes to waste. Whatever your reasons for needing to use up your leftover veggies, this is the hub for you. Here is a list of ideas to inspire you to eat these vegetables before they need to be thrown away.

  1. Make a large omelet. Omelets are delicious and filling and best of all you can use up the odds and ends in your produce drawer. We like to add mushrooms, onions, peppers and even tomatoes to ours.
  2. Spaghetti sauce lends itself surprisingly well to hiding vegetables. You can either chop vegetables up into large chunks or steam and puree it to really hide it. Spinach, broccoli, carrots, onions, mushrooms and peppers all have found their way into my spaghetti sauce.
  3. Pizza is delicious and can be topped with just about anything. Personally for me, if I can add cheese on top, it sounds good.
  4. Stir-fry is a good idea for many reasons. It is good, good for you, easy and fast to cook and uses up the odds and ends of just about anything. Tonight for instance, I had one lone sweet potato, water chestnuts, tons of zucchini, garlic and onions that needed to be used. I cooked them all up with diced chicken and seasoned it with soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and a lime that was languishing in my crisper. My house smelled delightful and we had the best dinner.
  5. Quesadillas are a summertime favorite around here when tomatoes are ripening too quickly for me. Cheese and tomato is our favorite but we have also cooked these up with several different types of squashes, onions, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli.
  6. Soups and stews are the perfect winter fare for all those random veggies. In fact many people keep a container in their freezer and anytime they have leftover bits of veggies, they throw them all together in a bucket, juices and all. When the bucket is full they know it is time to make soup.
  7. Make a relish tray. Frequently for dinner I will put a large plate on the table with whatever fresh vegetables I can find. Add ranch dressing or hummus and this is a great side dish for any meal.
  8. Large salads can incorporate many vegetables. This would make a great lunch to take to work with dressing on the side.
  9. My husband makes what my kids call Famous Ramen noodles. Basically he digs out whatever veggies he can find in the fridge, chops them up small and adds them to the cooked noodles from the ramen packet. He also adds tuna, garlic salt and pepper and the kids all devour it.
  10. If you really have produce going bad too quickly and can't eat it then you can usually freeze it. Sometimes you do have to blanch it first, but that only takes a minute or two and will save your vegetables, and your money, from making their way to your trash can.


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    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 7 years ago

      Wow! what a great idea to use leftover vegetables. Great Hub.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Great ideas. I already do some of them, but you have reminded me of some I haven't done in years. I used to do the Ramen stir fry dohn121 suggested above. There are directions on the package for using them like Lo Mein. I used to incorporate leftover pork or chicken into them along with spouts, greens,and whatever left-over veggies I had on hand. I've also used the spaghetti sauce trick. I like to add mushrooms and summer squashes to it. If I have more sauce than pasta, I toast some sourdough garlic bread and top with leftover sauce and cheese and bake until the cheese melts for poor man's pizza.

    • Santa Fe Gal profile image

      Santa Fe Gal 8 years ago

      Love the Quesadillas suggestion! Put cheese on anything and I'll eat it.

      Have you ever heard of a dish called Bubbles and Squeak? It's popular in the UK. You mix leftover veggies and meat (optional) with stuffing to form patties and fry them in a skillet with a little oil. The dish got it's name because the patties bubble and make a squeaking noise when the cook. It's a great way to use Thanksgiving leftover.

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 8 years ago from California

      Your hub reminds me of my mom's dish. She would make a boiled chicken dinner complete with vegetables. The very next day, she would chop the chicken and vegetables and mix-in a Spanish-style tomato sauce mix. The recycled dish was called "Ropa Vieja" or "Old Clothes." Thank you for ten more creative ideas of rehashing left over vegetables into great meals.

    • skgrao profile image

      S K G Rao. 8 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

      I mix all of it and grind it in to a paste and pour it in to my sambar( with out my wife seeing ) to go with rice.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      Great ideas Jennifer! I love the spaghetti sauce idea - anything that can hide vegetables in it sounds good!

      In India, we also tend to mix in a bit of flour and water and either roll them out and roast them or fry them like dumplings.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Jennifer, the soup idea is definitely my personal favorite. One other idea - if you have picky eaters that revolt at the sight of certain veggies - first blend up veggies that you then put in your spaghetti sauce, so they can't visually ID what's in there to complain that they don't like it or that you need to cull out those veggies for them. They usually like the flavor, just not the "looks," of those vegetables.

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 8 years ago

      One of my favorite snacks is a plateful of chopped cooked vegetables (it doesn't really matter which ones) tossed with either Italian or Balsamic salad dressing. Believe me, it tastes a lot better than it sounds. Great ideas as usual.

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 8 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK

      Another hub full of useful ideas. Thanks for creating this Jennifer.

      Another idea is a vegetable curry which can be made in lots of different ways using whatever veg you've got.

      Of course creating chicken feed from leftovers or veg that need using up is also a great way to use them.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Another useful and practical hub! I'm definitely one of your fans! Another idea, Jennifer, since ramen are dirt cheap, is to boil them maybe half-way (I sometimes just blanch them because they cook for the second time when being fried/sauteed) and them fry them up like Lo Mein. You could actually incorporate this into your list because you could of course dice up some vegetables to add to it. Hope this helps!