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Leftovers - how to change them, food made into something else

Updated on April 28, 2013
Left over chili can be used in stuffing bell peppers, warmed up and served over salad, made into "nachos" or even included in enchilada and taco fillings.
Left over chili can be used in stuffing bell peppers, warmed up and served over salad, made into "nachos" or even included in enchilada and taco fillings. | Source
Left over roasts can be cut up and put into soups and stews, or pulled apart and tuned into shredded meat for BBQ sandwiches or even used in salads.
Left over roasts can be cut up and put into soups and stews, or pulled apart and tuned into shredded meat for BBQ sandwiches or even used in salads. | Source
Left over meat loaf can be used to make sandwiches, warmed, mashed and added to spaghetti or chill or casseroles even added to shepherds pie.
Left over meat loaf can be used to make sandwiches, warmed, mashed and added to spaghetti or chill or casseroles even added to shepherds pie. | Source

What can I do with leftovers?

So you made some killer food today and you have leftovers? How does that happen? Well for one thing if you habitually cook too much and your family does not like to eat leftovers you have a few choices.

  • you can cut down the amount you cook by purchasing less or dividing into amounts you will cook for one meal and refrigerate or freeze those for later cooking.
  • you can package the leftovers as a meal that you or a family member take to work or eat at home another day.
  • schedule your cooking with a plan to use the leftover items as ingredients in the next days meal plan.

I personally try to stick to using the leftovers in a different meal within the next few days. In the past I have tossed out many leftovers that no one ate. Usually it is because I did not have a plan for it when I put it in the refrigerator. Even if they are in clear easily view-able containers, if you do not give yourself an idea for their use you can easily forget about them until it is too late to use them.

Everyone knows how hard it is to focus on cooking when you are also wearing your working cap, your cleaning cap and your parenting cap and that is not even mentioning your cabby beret! I am not just talking to women here, some men have all these responsibilities too!

Another negative with leftovers is by themselves they do not have the same appeal they did when warm and ready for eating. Generally the best thing to do is focus on future meal ideas right away instead of putting them in the refrigerator and forgetting them. Examples

  • today you served a pot roast and you have enough left for two people to eat, but you have a family of five. You could put the leftovers together into two lunches that could be pot roast or BBQ beef sandwiches. The veggies with some of the juice could be a side of soup.
  • today you served spaghetti with meatballs and sauce. You have some left over, but not enough for more than two. Cut everything into smaller pieces, put in a plastic refrigerator container and mix in extra Parmesan cheese. Tomorrow you can spread it on garlic bread, pop it under the broiler with some mozzarella cheese on top and have spaghetti french bread pizza with salad that will satisfy everybody. Also, see the video below for making spaghetti casserole.
  • today you made a pork roast and you have one or two portions left. Dice it up and mix it in with a package of stir fry veggies and noodles (frozen prepackaged is great). Put that in a gallon bag and put back in the freezer. Make pork roast again next week and put the left overs, cut up in with last weeks frozen and the next day or two you can have pork stir fry with no one the wiser regarding actually eating leftovers.

As you can see there are many things you can do with your leftover food than to just package it up and then toss it days later, still having to clean the dirty dish from a meal you never ate!

Some leftover ideas

Left over corn bread. I made this into a breadding for oven fried chicken. Just add your spices and a tablespoon of flour!
Left over corn bread. I made this into a breadding for oven fried chicken. Just add your spices and a tablespoon of flour! | Source
Left over boiled or grilled sweet potatoes can be turned into mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato casserole. Left over mashed can be used to flavor soups and stews.
Left over boiled or grilled sweet potatoes can be turned into mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato casserole. Left over mashed can be used to flavor soups and stews. | Source
Left over veggies can be used to flavor stocks, pureed and added to meatloaf, stuffings, sauces and can be added to casseroles.
Left over veggies can be used to flavor stocks, pureed and added to meatloaf, stuffings, sauces and can be added to casseroles. | Source

Side Dishes

Don't throw away that little bit of mashed potatoes or a few veggies. There are many things you can do with them. I use mashed potatoes to thicken up soups, stews and even occasionally tomato based sauces. If you had put sour cream in them so much the better. Veggies can be pureed and put into meat loaf, they can be used to flavor a stock pot. Just because you simmered them once for consuming as a side dish does not mean they have run out of flavor. Left over bread, rolls or cornbread can be left to dry and crumbled up to use as bread crumbs. Incidentally, a small amount of bread crumbs stirred into a sauce will thicken it as well.

And don't put the leftovers (those that you have a plan for and that you don't know what to do with) into the back of the refrigerator. I put all the jams and sauces to the back of the refrigerator and keep the leftover containers to the front of each shelf. This forces you and all the family members to see them every time you go into the refrigerator. It helps if someone just wants a snack to see them. I never get mad if someone uses up a left over I made a plan for because there are always alternatives and I would rather have them used up than thrown away. I also feel it is better to eat a snack of mashed potatoes (or any other left over item) rather than chips, snack cakes or any other goodies you may have in your home because the mashed potatoes you made do not have added preservatives.

USING LEFT OVER SPAGHETTI

USING LEFT OVER RICE

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    • Marla Neogra profile image
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      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks for the tips Sally will have to try that too! (although my kids always complain when I force them to eat beans except refried)

    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 5 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Transforming leftovers is a good skill to have! In fact, it was taught in my high school home ec class as a skill all frugal, smart homemakers should have!

      When I have leftover spaghetti, I like to make minestrone. First, cut through all the spaghetti to make it short. Then add a can of tomatoes, a can of rinsed beans (or non-rinsed chili beans) and some frozen California or Italian veggie mix (if you don't have that, rinse a can of green beans). Add beef bouillon and spices as needed/desired. Bring it all to a boil, simmer it for 5-10 minutes and serve it with French Bread. It's a whole new meal! ;D Voted up and useful!

    • yols-a profile image

      yols-a 5 years ago from Trinidad and Tobago

      Good job Marla useful hub

    • Marla Neogra profile image
      Author

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks for the words of encouragement!

    • Marla Neogra profile image
      Author

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks for the cudos!

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      Very creative stuff. I love it. Please do more.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I do the same as you when it comes to reusing leftovers by either freezing them for future easy meals or repurposing them. I LOVE making homemade soups and very often leftovers make their way into them. Voted useful and up and will SHARE with my followers. Welcome to HubPages!

    • Marla Neogra profile image
      Author

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks, I have other sites on recipes and they are always free. Please check them out.

    • Marla Neogra profile image
      Author

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks for the kudos! I will be checking out some of yours right now.

    • Marla Neogra profile image
      Author

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Excellent! I should be posting more in the next few weeks.

    • organicrecipes profile image

      organicrecipes 5 years ago from USA

      Nice. Love these recipes