Don’t you just have those days where you look your fridge, see tons of pre-cooked meals and unused foods thinking: “UGH. There’s NOTHING to eat.” Been there, done that. I’ve been guilty of just driving out to an Indian buffet when there was more than enough food in the fridge to tide me over for the weekend (but can you really blame me? Indian food is the best!). That being said, restaurants are fun and all, but you save a lot of money just by eating everything at home, especially if it’s already been prepared.
Luckily for the both of us, I’ve whipped up a few ideas on how to make leftovers seem like an entirely new meal in many ways. They can be eaten any time of the day, whether first thing when you wake up, right before bed, or the next day at 1 AM while you’re watching Netflix shows. Honestly, there are a TON of ways you can rejuvenate your love for eating leftovers, but these are the ways that I know and that I’ve personally found to be the best for my schedule and lifestyle. Sometimes I’m really busy and have five minutes in the kitchen, other days I can spend over three hours without anything to do. It really depends on my mood and where I am in my life. Cater these ways to how you handle everything you’ve got and I bet you that you’ll be using at least one of them in your weekly routine–at least I hope so! Anyways, you’re probably reading this and wanting me to shut up and show you the food, so I will do just that and get started with the fun ways I use leftovers!
- Oatmeal: if you have NO idea what to use with your leftover fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, beans, chicken, tofu, or even baked pastries, then just break them up if necessary and dunk them in a bowl of oatmeal! It’s so simple and you can make all kinds of combinations for a super filling, quick and hearty breakfast.
- Egg dishes: this is a great way to use up your old salads, browned avocados or vegetables that just seem so bland and boring on their own. Whether you like making giant scrambles, omelets or frittatas, eggs can pretty much go well with almost anything. Omelets are especially great for leftover stir-fries, curries, and Thanksgiving turkey meat, green beans and sweet potato.
- Pasta dishes: This doesn’t even have to be spaghetti! My mother actually made this very innovative lasagna with leftover chicken, artichokes, tomato sauce and penne that turned out to be a great hit in the house!
- Salads: you can’t really go wrong with salads, even though they may be boring at first. It’s an easy way to get in tons of vegetables for lots of volume. Just find some leftover protein, veggies–can be cooked or raw, grains, legumes or even fruit and toss them with a box or bag of greens. Boom, you’ve got lunch and dinner all ready to go–just with a makeover.
- Pizza: Note that I know that these photos aren’t actually of my “leftover” pizzas, but that’s because I’ve never actually tried this idea but I’ve heard of this idea online and I thought it was really cool. But here’s a cool hack- buy a healthy pre-made pizza crust (should be whole grain or whole wheat, but can also be vegan, gluten free, or even Paleo) at the supermarket or from your local pizzeria–you can also get cheese and your favorite sauce if you want to–bring it home, and throw on your leftovers! This can range from leftover veggies, leftover meats, tofu, beans, rice, grains, potatoes, and more! Bake the pizza if you want to and you got yourself a very fun, hearty delicious meal that will last you for a long time! It may just turn out so good that you’ll eat the entire pie!
- Soups: Ideal for a cold winter day or whenever you’re under the weather, this hack is for you. Just pour some low sodium veggie or chicken broth into a large pot and add anything you have leftover that would complement it. You can also use a tomato soup or pumpkin soup base, which add a lot of creaminess. This is definitely wonderful if you have leftover vegetables and beans!
- Curries: talk about the ultimate pot recipe. It’s even better if everything is already cooked for you, so all you have to do is heat a pan with onions, a little coconut oil or olive oil, curry paste, spices, dump all of the vegetables and protein in, and add some coconut milk to make a delicious meal.
- Sushi: If you have Nori on hand, then this is going to be so much fun for you! Take some leftover vegetables, protein and grains and roll ’em up in the seaweed! You don’t even need those bamboo mats to make a successful roll! Nori sheets are actually not super expensive, so you can get a lot and eat sushi everyday right in your home. Genius, right?
- Stir-fries: See that piece of chicken sausage and bowl of broccoli you’ve been meaning to get rid of before they expire? Just find a cool sauce, heat a pan and stir fry everything until well cooked! You can’t really mess anything up unless you add some kind of outlandish ingredient into the mix–say, peanut butter cups with broccoli. But nobody would be that stupid! XD
- Stuffed sweet potatoes: if you want to make a savory stuffed sweet potato, just add in a leftover salad or stir-fry into a baked sweet potato or yam and dig in! I like my sweet potatoes more dessert-like, so I put in tons of fruit with some form of protein. It’s also a great way to compensate for failed protein pancakes that didn’t form correctly!
- Lettuce wraps: I LOVE lettuce wraps so much–maybe a teensy bit more than salads! You basically do the same thing with the stuffed sweet potatoes, except opt for a low carb lettuce leaf or two. Best part is that you can eat as much lettuce as you want, but in a much funner way! Warning: they’re pretty messy, so have many napkins handy!
- The-throw-everything-on-a-plate-and-pray dish: any further instructions?
There you go, some easy but also a couple creative ideas to spice up your leftovers if you don’t want takeout, or if you just want to empty your fridge in a flash! You just might realize that one of these will become a go-to! For me, I’ve loved the egg dishes, salads, sushi, stir-fries, lettuce wraps, and of course, the-throw-everything-on-a-plate-and-pray dishes. Hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if you want to see more like these!
What leftovers recipe ideas did I miss? How do you like to make your leftovers more exciting?