Making the Most of Leftovers


It’s difficult to make good use of leftovers. Even though you have good intentions when you put away those foil wrapped plates or containers of food, more often than not, they are left to languish in the back of the fridge until they complete their journey into the garbage can. Even the name “leftover” sounds less than appealing. But in truth, leftovers are a great way to stretch your food budget and make a light cooking night once or twice a week. Here are some tips for making new meals using leftovers.

Meal Planning

Planning your meals each week ensures that you will make good use of leftovers because they become part of the menu. For example, if you make a batch of chili for dinner, a day or two later, you can make loaded baked potatoes with chili, cheese and sour cream to serve alongside of a fresh salad. If you roast a chicken for dinner you can shred leftover meat to make enchiladas or quesadillas. All you have to do is think ahead and you’ll have ideas for leftovers of any kind. Plus, because a good portion of the meal is already cooked, new meals with leftovers have a ‘heat and serve’ quality that saves time.

Stay Within Ethnicities

Making new meals using leftovers is much easier if you stay within a specific ethnicity. For instance, making a variation of Mexican food using the same seasoned meat is much easier than trying to use taco meat in spaghetti. If you’re not sure about your plans for leftovers, try to use basic seasonings for the protein and leave the intense, specific flavors for a sauce or side dish. You’ll have more options for the next meal.

Casseroles are Harder to Repurpose

If you make a casserole where the ingredients are all assembled then cooked together, you’ll be very limited in terms of meals you can make with the leftovers other than simply reheating and eating. This is, however, another time saving leftover tactic. If you’re making a casserole, double the recipe and freeze one half for a meal within the next month.

An Easy Leftover Makeover

Here’s a versatile leftover dish that works with just about anything. Throw together batch of fried rice. Add canola or vegetable oil to a frying pan or wok over medium/high heat. You can use any type of meat:  ham, pork chops, cubed chicken, leftover steak – even breakfast sausage or bacon works well. Toss in any vegetables -- leftover carrots, green beans or peas are great. Add cooked rice and a splash of soy sauce. Make a well in the center and scramble an egg (or scramble separately in another sauté pan) and mix the egg crumbles throughout. Top with chopped scallions and a few chopped peanuts.

Grab Bag

Turn leftovers into a fun, end-of-the-week buffet. Make every Friday a “grab bag” for dinner: spread out the leftovers from the previous four nights’ dinners and let everyone build their own plate with whatever suits them. Be sure to include a fresh green salad as the perfect accompaniment to every meal.



7 Ideas for Leftover Potatoes

Leftover Potatoes

Some people really dislike the idea of leftovers and some refuse to eat them entirely.  Regardless, any budget-savvy cook knows the waste that it is to throw away leftover food when it can be used again in a new creative dish.  Because we know that leftover potatoes can seem particularly unsavory the second time around, we have come up with seven ideas for how you can use leftover potatoes in a way that will surprise and delight your family or guests!


Freezing Potatoes

What Works and What Doesn’t

Before we get started with some recipe ideas, you should know that while raw potaoes do not respond well to freezing, cooked potatoes are fine to freeze and it can be an excellent way to put aside your potato leftovers until you are ready to serve another potato-based dish!  This is good to keep in mind, especially if you have family members who are picky about eating leftovers and who may become suspicious if some form of potatoes is served back to back! (


Leftover Potato Recipes

Seven Ideas for Potato Leftovers

Twice Baked Potatoes

  • First, cut the potatoes in half length-wise and scoop out the baked inside of the potato while leaving the skin intact.
  • Then, mash the potato filling while mixing it with sour cream, ranch, cream cheese, garlic salt or whatever suits your fancy!
  • Finally, refill the skin with the seasoned mashed potatoes, top with bacon or cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until thoroughly warmed!


Skillet Hash

  • Depending on the desired texture, you can chop or shred your leftover baked potatoes for this tasty dish.
  • Fry with a pre-cooked meat and any combination of vegetables and seasonings until the potatoes are crispy and brown.  You can even mimic the restaurant style and serve scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon on top!

Potato Salad

For recipes that can be quite time-consuming such as potato salad, take advantage of knowing that the job is already half-way done when you have leftover potatoes!  Quickly put together the recipe for your favorite potato salad and refrigerate for at least 24 hours for full flavor saturation!


Potato Cakes

Of course baked potatoes can be converted to mashed potatoes, but what if you are starting with leftover mashed potatoes?  Try thinking potatoes instead of pancakes!

  • Mix the mashed potatoes with cheese and chives and bacon or whatever seasoning you choose.
  • Form into balls and then slightly depress.
  • Fry until crispy brown and serve with sour cream on top!


Potato Quick Bread

Don’t forget that potatoes can be used to make a quick bread which can be an excellent side to a lunch salad or a frittata for dinner.  Here is one great recipe to try!


Potato-Based Casserole

Any form of potatoes can be used in a variety of simple and appetizing casseroles.


Potato-Based Soup

And the same can be said for many warm and delicious soups!


So before you throw those potatoes out, freeze them instead or try any one of these tasty options!