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How to Use Leftovers

March 20, 2018 by HealthyFamilies BC

How to use leftovers

Let’s be honest. Planning and cooking meals can be a daunting task! Whether you are cooking for one or a whole family, it’s helpful to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make life easier. That’s where leftovers come in.

Reusing leftovers involves creating new recipes from leftover foods. It can be a practical way to make food preparation easier and faster, while still enjoying a variety of meals. Using up all of your leftover food can also help your family reduce food waste, which is good for both your wallet and the environment.

How to Get Started

  1. Plan ahead: When you are planning meals for the week or even a couple days, choose recipes and ingredients that can be used in multiple ways. For example, if you are making tacos one day, double the recipe and use the same filling to make quesadillas or burritos the next day. Don’t forget that leftovers can be transformed into any meal or snack.
  2. Adjust the size of recipes: The next step is to determine how much to prepare. If you are cooking for a larger group, double or triple recipes to ensure you have enough leftovers to use later.
  3. Don’t forget about food safety: To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, plan your meals so that all leftovers will be eaten within two to three days, or store in the freezer to use at later date. See Health Canada’s tips for safely handling leftovers.

What to Make With Leftovers

There are endless ways to make new meals out leftover food. Here are some ideas:

  • Cooked vegetables: Leftover vegetables can add colour, flavour and texture to recipes. Use leftovers in omelettes, frittatas and salads. Prepare a hearty blended soup using roasted root vegetables, like squash, sweet potatoes and turnips.
  • Roasted chicken: A homemade or store-bought roast chicken is a versatile ingredient. Add leftover meat to soups, pizzas and casseroles, or turn the bones into a delicious stock. Leftover roast turkey also works well.
  • Chili: Chili is a simple recipe that can be prepared in large batches. To jazz up leftover chilli, serve it on top of a roll or baked potato and melt with cheese. For a savoury pie, bake leftover chili in the oven with a cornbread topping.
  • Rice: Made too much rice? Try making fried rice, salad bowls, stuffed bell peppers or congee (Chinese savoury rice porridge). You can also experiment with other whole grains like quinoa and barley.
  • Beans and lentils: Beans or lentils are packed with nutrients. Turn leftovers into dips, veggie burgers, soups and even muffins. Use canned, dried, or cooked varieties.

Reusing leftovers is a creative way to feed your family while saving time and money. The only limit is your imagination! How do you like to use leftovers?

Author’s Bio: Today’s blog was written by Justine Wardle. Justine is a graduate student currently completing a practicum at the Ministry of Health. She is also a Registered Dietitian, and enjoys experimenting with different foods in the kitchen.

Related blogs

Food Safety: Store it Right
Meal Planning – Get Organized. Plan Ahead. Make a List.
Kitchen Sink Soup

Recommended resources

Food Safety for Leftovers (Health Canada)
Better Together BC
Cookspiration (Dietitians of Canada)



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