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How creative are you with leftovers?

I usually give myself a break from menu planning and warm old dishes up and let everyone choose what they want. This also helps me to know which dishes they *really* liked. But every so often, and today was one, I begin to make entirely new menus from the leftover food.

The veggies I overbought at the Farmer's Market last weekend were fine, not fresh. I made a vegetable soup without oil or tomatoes - just onions, leeks, carrots, 1/2 eggplant, potatoes, and used 5 cups white chicken stock for the broth. (Chicken broth would be fine). When I'm ready to serve I'll tear spinach (also from Farmer's Mkt trip) and add to soup.

Needed to use up rest of eggplant and leftover chicken. Made a 'leftover casserole' of eggplant, chicken, 1/4 bottle of l/o Prego marinara, added a little feta and found the last of the meat marinara to add to the mix. Topped with breaded parmesan used to prep eggplant.

Leftover persimmon cake: turn it into bread pudding with orange caramel sauce.

This was a fun morning in the kitchen! What do you do with your leftovers?

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  1. Typically my wife takes the leftovers from the weekend to work for lunch during the workweek. I am not a big fan of leftovers, but I am now trying to be a little more frugal these days with a new baby in the house.

    However, to save some money so we can affoed to go out a couple of time a week to eat, I typically make a roast (beef, pork, chicken, or baked ham) on Sunday night, and like last night I reheated the sliced roast beef in the left over gravy, reheated the mashed potatoes, and the peas. Funny thing is my wife likes it this way over the original Sunday roast...

    With the leftover baked ham I always make ham and scalloped potatoes, when I make Corned Beef & cabbage I use the leftover corned beef for Ruebens, or corned beef hash.

    1. My mom always made hash from leftover pot roast, putting both meat and vegetables through the meat grinder and mixing in gravy, then baking it. I tended to like the hash better than the pot roast.

      When you're an enthusiastic cook AND a bargain-hunting shopper AND there are just two people in the household, you'd better get good with leftovers! In addition to my mom's tricks (fried mashed-potato cakes - yum!), I've gotten pretty adept at making gratins from vegetables, with or without sauce, variations on the miroton theme or shepherd's pie with leftover meat, or just working out how to reheat something without its tasting reheated - what you can microwave and what you'd better not, for instance. We brought home most of an order of fries Saturday evening, leftovers from that day's lunch, and the next morning I cut them all into 1/4" pieces, chopped in a little onion, and made some really good hash browns (hint: the best way to reheat most fried food is to fry it!).

      1. Not very most of the time, but every once and a while I'll have a lightbulb moment. Sometimes when we have tacos, we'll have taco pizza the next night. Actually, we do leftovers pizza fairly often- roasted corn, roasted chicken, and goat cheese was a great one! It's funny that Will Owen liked his mom's mashed potato cakes... I guess my grandma used to make these ALL the time when my mom was growing up, and her and her two brothers HATED them! My grandma just found out a couple of years ago and was crushed- she thought they loved them! They sound good to me!

        When I first started cooking, I had way too many leftovers for just my husband and I, and we would get so sick of everything. Now, I've gotten too good at cooking for just the two of us and we rarely have leftovers, which makes us be lazy and eat out for lunch.... arghhh... it's a neverending cycle!

        1. i must have cooked for a large family in a past life, because i typically have leftovers. personally i hate eating the same thing two nights in a row, so what doesn't get eaten for lunch get re-invented into whay i call "a fridge special." soup is an easy one.
          but my favourite fridge special is taking uneaten roast, cutting it up into julienne strips, and marinating it in a asian dressing. Then throw in some thinly sliced carrots and whatever else you've got stashed in your crisper and wrapping the whole thing with a iceburg lettuce leaf. yum

          1. I'm not that tricky with leftovers, but I do like to roughly chop leftover veggies and throw them in a frittata.

            1. I often take left-over fish (usu salmon) or chicken and re-invent it into a pasta dish - add veggies, pesto, pine nuts , sun-dried tomoatoes- depends what I have around. Usually ends up tasting delicious and nothing like the dinner the night before.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jcanncuk

                Oh, that reminds me of my other favorite leftover stand-by, leftover meat and sauce over pasta. I often add mushrooms and maybe a green veggie, if one complements. It hardly counts as "tranformative," but we really like it.

                1. re: Mawrter

                  While my principal reason for making meat loaf in the first place is so I can have meatloaf sandwiches, we both like to have it sliced and either sautéed and sauced or reheated in sauce, usually a simple blend of ketchup, horseradish and a shot of Worcestershire. The very favorite version of this is to lay the browned slices on a bed of mashed potato in a buttered gratin dish, spread a modest amount of sauce or brown mushroom gravy over the top, and give it about fifteen minutes in a fairly hot oven. Over pasta works well too. Good TV food.

              2. I always keep tortillas on hand. Just about anything tastes good rolled in a burrito! I'll roll a stir-fry up with some fresh greens and a little sesame dressing. Or whatever meat I've got (beef, chicken, fish, whatever) with salsa, cheese, etc.

                1. Croquettes are a great way to resuse leftovers. I use leftover chicken (you could use ham or fish), shred it, mix it into a bechamel sauce and then form them into oval shapes that I then dip into breadcrumbs. Fry and you have a new yummy dish!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AnjLM

                    Listen to AnjLM... her croquettes are awesome! ;)

                    As for me, I always manage to make too much rice. Rather than just eat it plain, I add some goat cheese and chives and then stuff it into a tomato or pepper. Top with some breadcrumbs, pop it into the oven, and you've got a great, simple dish!

                  2. Just remered another good one: My dh makes a kickass salad with leftover steak or London Broil. Slice the meat thin, add tomatoes, cucumbers, whatever you like; toss with lettuce and olive oil, balsamic, salt/pepper. Ahhhhh. If there's any leftover red wine, too, you know what to do.

                    1. Yum! It sounds similar to what I do to make savory "cakes" (with anything--fish, meat, veggies). I use egg and panko crumbs or mashed potato to bind, and then fry them up.