How to Turn Your Leftovers Into Delicious New Meals

How to Turn Your Leftovers Into Delicious New Meals

Throwing away leftovers isn’t just a waste of money—it’s also bad for the environment. As much as possible, I try to make sure that food does not go to waste.

Here are some ways on how to turn last night’s leftovers into new, delicious dishes. I’m going to focus on specific ingredients that are common leftovers in most households, like chicken, veggies, and bread.

Because we’re dealing with leftovers, I won’t give exact measurements. I’ll simply provide the ingredients and the general idea of what the dish is about, and you can go crazy from there. Get creative!

  1.    Leftover chicken 

I will no longer talk about the usual suspects—chicken salad, chicken spread, chicken soup, etc. Chicken is so versatile that there are literally dozens of ways on how to work with their leftovers. Here’s a fun idea: chicken tacos!

  •         Shredded leftover chicken
  •         Salsa (store bought or homemade)
  •         Corn tortillas
  •         Sour cream
  •         Cheese (I recommend either cheddar or queso fresco), grated or crumbled
  •         Cilantro (use in the salsa, or sprinkle some on the taco), chopped
  •         Lime wedges

There is really no specific way on how to make this—you can make it mild or spicy, saucy or dry. This is one’s a build-your-own taco concept–simply place each ingredient in a plate/bowl, and let everyone assemble their own taco!

  1.    Leftover French fries 

This is a regular leftover at home. We’re a family of four who loves French fries, but can’t seem to finish them! We would usually just throw them away, but I’ve recently learned how to turn them into cheesy hash browns—a hit with the kids!

I used to reheat leftover fries in the toaster or oven, but when I discovered how to turn them into hash browns, I was hooked! You’ll need:

  •         Leftover French fries
  •         Waffle iron/waffle maker
  •         Cheddar cheese, chopped
  •         Olive oil

Chop up your leftover fries with some grated cheddar cheese, drizzle some olive oil, and transfer them to the waffle iron. Cook them until brown and crispy, and you’ll have an addition to a hearty breakfast! I serve these with bacon or sausages.

You can actually do without the cheese if you’d want to cut on calories. I use this because it adds another layer of flavor (no need to add salt!), and a great texture.

I sometimes also add in some finely chopped broccoli and carrots in the mix to add some color and nutrients. A great way to incorporate some veggies into breakfast!

  1.    Leftover rice 

Don’t worry if you weren’t able to finish your white rice dinner—day-old rice is actually excellent (and oftentimes recommended) for fried rice!

My family eats in Asian restaurants all the time, and we’d usually take home lots of leftover white rice. Below is a very simple go-to recipe of mine for bacon fried rice. You’ll need:

  •         Leftover rice
  •         Bacon, chopped
  •         Garlic, chopped
  •         Romaine lettuce, shredded

Chop up the bacon and cook them until brown and crispy. Then, take out all of the cooked bacon and set aside. Cook the chopped garlic in the bacon oil until brown, then add the leftover rice. Cook until rice is tender.

Turn off the heat, and add the bacon bits in the pan and make sure it’s well distributed in the rice. After transferring the fried rice to a plate or bowl, top it with a generous amount of shredded lettuce (this doesn’t only add texture, but some nice color as well).

  1.    Leftover vegetables 

Just because vegetables turn soggy doesn’t mean they can’t be delicious! You can still turn leftover veggies into great meals—just add eggs! Here are the frittata ingredients you’ll need:

  •         Leftover vegetables (broccoli is excellent for this)
  •         Eggs, scrambled
  •         Cheddar or parmesan cheese, grated
  •         Olive oil

Simply chop up any of your leftover vegetables and mix them with the scrambled eggs and cheese. Place the mixture in an oven-proof pan or a cast iron skillet lined with some olive oil.

Bake the mixture for about 20-30 minutes. The baking time really depends on how big the serving is, so to test doneness, pull out your pan from the oven after the first 20 minutes, and cut a slit in the center. Put it back in the oven if eggs are still runny!

This is the vegetarian version, but you can also add an extra layer of flavor by adding some meat, like bacon bits (best if you add them to the mixture half-cooked) or some homemade chorizo.

  1.    Leftover bread 

Bread pudding is probably the first thing that will come to mind when you’re talking about days-old bread recipes. Most recipes are on the sweet side, mixed with some fruit or even chocolate—but have you ever tried making the savory variety?

Here’s what you’ll need for a delicious savory bread pudding:

  •         Leftover bread (preferably crusty) cut into 1-inch cubes
  •         Whole milk (a cup of milk for every 2 cups of cubed bread)
  •         White mushrooms, thinly sliced
  •         Gruyere or cheddar cheese
  •         Asparagus, blanched and chopped (Asparagus can be frozen to use later)
  •         Kale, chopped
  •         Bacon, chopped
  •         Olive oil
  •         Salt and pepper

In a pan, cook the bacon bits until brown, and then add the mushrooms, chopped kale, and the blanched asparagus. Cook until kale is wilted. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and milk, and season with salt and pepper. While you’re preheating the oven preheated to 350F, oil your baking dish add the cubed bread and veggie mixture.

Pour over the egg-milk mixture into the baking dish, and wait about 5 minutes (this is so the bread can have time to absorb all the liquid). Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until brown, and serve warm.

There you have it!

I hope you enjoyed the recipes! Don’t let your dishes stop here—experiment and get creative!

Author bio:
Vivian has a huge passion for cooking. That’s why she created “” to share her great love with other people. She believes that fine food is not only the key to promoting family cohesion, but it also helps make every member become closer.


About Karren Haller

I am a +70 Blogger that loves connecting with other women through blogging. A new recipe always intrigues, finding a new craft, creating bracelets occasionally and gardening is a favorite and writing brand reviews is a favorite for my readers. But most of all the connection to other bloggers. Creativity, simple life and getting things done