Monday, September 24, 2018

Ten Creative Plans to Upcycle Leftovers

The prudent use leftovers is important to a healthy family budget. But, of course, very few families really enjoy eating leftovers of a big meal for the third or fourth night in a row. So, a bit of creativity really goes a long way.

Most of the time, when I serve meals this way, I add a little something extra - like Garlic Toast, some salad, baby carrots, capers or olives, a sauce - you know, something that adds an additional layer of texture & flavor.

Here are a few ideas that work for my family:

1. One thing I've done for years is to prepare a large meal and freeze it to serve more than once - but not more than once in a row! This is especially helpful when you're cooking for one, or for a very small family, and don't want to waste a lot of time with recipes that take 45 minutes for one serving. They're also helpful when you have one family member on a special diet or with an allergy. Read more about this method in my post Cooking for the Single Vegan

2. I also pack leftovers after dinner into individual portions to make future lunches for my husband to take to work - or for us to eat during our home school days. These can go into the fridge or freezer, depending on the content and your serving schedule.

3. One day I was sitting with a friend who I knew had very little budget for food for her large family. She mentioned that her voracious teenagers really liked my lentil soup. Then she surprised me, and said, they even like it better the second night when I serve it over spaghetti! For an additional dollar or two, she made an already frugal meal into two abundant meals for her family. This also works great with a variety of other soups and stews. For a little added Oomph, top with capers, olives, salad, or avocadoes. For Omnivores, an addition of shredded cheese and or sour cream also adds interest.

4. My Indian friends really enjoy having Dal for a second night poured over their favorite Basmati Rice. It seems like a whole new meal that way.
Serve your Favorite Indian Legume Dish over Rice the second time

4. Similarly, serving a stew or thick soup over potatoes or over oven fries or French fries can stretch it for as second meal, without seeming like the "same old thing" again.

5. Make a Wrap. This is my favorite way to use a bit of spread - like hummus, or peanut sauce- and a bit of raw or cooked veggies from the back of the fridge. You can also throw in some Rice, if you like. If you have the veggies & rice, just make some sauce or spread to add, and you've got a meal!

6. Bake it into a turnover.

7. Have a backup plan. If you tend to have a leftover like rice, don't waste it - plan it into another dish!

8. Make a great soup. This was probably your Grandma's method - and it still works. But, I prefer to use a template like this one, to avoid bad outcomes. 

9. Make an Entree Salad. If I have leftover beans or grains, I often turn to one of these salads. With a few raw veggies & a dressing, it's ready to go! If I don't want to make the salad right away, I put the grain or beans to the freezer till I'm ready. Click here for ideas!

10. And - the most classic method of all. Offer a "Dickensian Dinner" - you know, where the Ghost of Dinner past is remembered fondly. In other words, set out a buffet all your leftovers, and let everyone help themselves to a few of their favorites! ; )

This is being shared on:
Happiness is Homemade
Smell Good Sunday
Merry Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
You're the Star
What'd You Do This Weekend?
Clever Chicks
Tasty Tuesdays
Tuesdays with a Twist 
Penny Pinching Party
Healthy & Happy Living
Encouraging Hearts & Homes
Booknificent Thursday
This is How We Roll


  1. Great ideas, and it was really fun to read too! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!


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