Wasted food is wasted energy, so rather than scraping your plate into the garbage or leaving leftover food at the restaurant where it will end up in the trash, try turning that leftover food into a whole new meal for later on in the week!
Not only does cooking with leftovers reduce waste, it can help stretch your food budget, too! If you’re looking to spice up your leftovers, here are some easy, tasty ways to make yesterday’s meal into a whole new dish.
The casserole route works well with all sorts of different types of leftovers like Italian, Mexican, and bar food. I don’t think I’d try this with Chinese or Thai food, but if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it!
Mix up the leftover food with some cooked pasta or rice, top with cheese (dairy or vegan will do the trick), and bake at 350F until the top of the casserole is brown.
Toss last night’s meal with some mixed greens and chopped veggies for a hearty salad. If your food had a lot of sauce on it, you might not even need dressing.
You can also heat the leftovers before tossing them with your greens. A warm topping on crunchy, cold lettuce adds a bit more interest to the meal.
This works best with Asian food, but you can definitely experiment! Combine leftovers, sauce and all, with cooked rice and some broth for a quickie leftovers soup. Depending on how saucy your dish was, you might want to spice things up with a little soy sauce, minced ginger, or garlic. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with chopped cilantro or scallions!
4. Fried Rice
Whether you had a stir fry or beans and rice, leftover rice makes a tasty base for a quick meal.
In a large frying pan, combine the cooked rice with your leftover food and stir to heat evenly. If the rice is looking dry, you might need to add around 1/4c water or broth to the pan to moisten things up. The rice will absorb most of the liquid, and the rest will cook down to make a yummy sauce.
If you have a lot of veggies that you couldn’t finish, you can turn them into a nutritious sauce that’s great on pasta. Just heat the veggies with some broth and spices of your choice, then puree to create a flavorful sauce. If you like things creamier, add a cooked potato to the mix. Yum!
Burritos and wraps used to mean some combination of beans, rice, and veggies. While a traditional burrito is great, you can really spice things up by wrapping up leftovers from another meal along with some veggies. Think outside the box! Thai or Indian leftovers would be delicious wrapped in a tortilla with some sliced potato and shredded spinach, for example.
Have you guys gotten creative with your leftovers? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!