You’re trying to come up with an idea for an easy meal, but when you look in your fridge, all you see are food storage containers and reusable silicone bags packed with leftovers from the last few days. You and your family don’t want to eat the same meal again, but you also don’t want to let food go to waste or go over your weekly takeout budget.
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So, what do you do?
Instead of wasting food or money or eating the same meal repeatedly, try making something new out of that mountain of leftovers. There are many ways to get creative using food you already have. And making a fresh meal out of bits usually doesn’t take as long as preparing an entire meal from scratch. Check out these meal ideas for pieces!
1. Pizza di Spaghetti
Despite even the most valiant efforts, cooking the right amount of spaghetti seems all but impossible. The next time you’re stuck with enough leftover noodles to feed an army, use them to make Pizza di Spaghetti. Even kiddos will likely enjoy this tasty dish that blends all the best parts of pasta and pizza.
2. Shrimp Scampi
Making shrimp scampi is a quick and easy way to use leftover shrimp. All you need to do is sauté garlic and onions in olive oil, stir in white wine and reduce, melt in butter, and add your shrimp. Cook angel hair pasta, top it with the shrimp and serve. Easy peasy!
3. Cheese and Pasta Bake
If you purchased specialty cheese to use in a recipe but have no idea what to do with the remaining scraps hanging out at the back of your fridge, make a cheese and pasta bake. Shred or cut up whatever cheese you have on hand and combine it with olive oil, onions, garlic, cream, and parsley. Then, connect the cheese mixture with the pasta in a large baking dish. Check out the full recipe here.
4. Stir Fry
Whipping up a stir fry is a great way to use up whatever vegetables, pasta, and proteins you have in the fridge. Heat a wok or flat-bottomed skillet over high heat, then add canola or peanut oil. Once the oil is hot, sear your meat or seafood. Then, toss in the veggies. Since you’re using leftovers, everything should already be cooked. Once everything is heated, please put it on top of your noodles and add a splash of soy sauce.
5. French Onion Soup
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With cooler weather, now is perfect to make a batch of homemade French onion soup. And since the recipe calls for stale crusty bread, it’s a good way to use up a baguette or another type of crusty bread you already have on hand.
If you’d like to take your soup to work, pour it into insulated drinkware. It will stay warm all day long, and unlike many other containers, drinkware will fit right in your car’s cup holder for mess-free travel.
Tip: If you have stale (not moldy) bread but aren’t in the mood for soup, use it to make breadcrumbs or croutons instead. Both are super easy to make and allow you to use up your bread without wasting it.
6. Leftover Pizza Quiche
Can’t bear the thought of eating another slice of pizza straight out of the box? We’ve got you covered! This recipe is easy and delicious, and it’s one of the unique uses for leftovers on this list. Use it to make a leftover pizza quiche, and you won’t even know that you’re technically eating portions. Plus, it’s a huge upgrade compared to chowing down on cold pizza first thing in the morning.
7. Shrimp Scampi Dip
We mentioned shrimp scampi to use leftover shrimp, but what do you do with the leftover shrimp scampi? Whip up a delicious dip! This recipe calls for canned shrimp, but you can easily substitute the shrimp you already have on hand. When using leftover shrimp scampi, adjust the garlic and onion to taste. Since it’s already in the leftover scampi, you might not need to add more to the dip.
8. Pork Taquitos
If you have shredded pork from your weekend barbecue, try using it to make taquitos. With two cups of shredded pork, corn tortillas, cheese, spices, salsa, and toppings like guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo, you can whip up some delicious taquitos that are way better than the frozen ones at your local grocery store! You can always put your homemade version in freezer storage containers for a quick snack to enjoy later.
9. Pork Chop Spaghetti
It doesn’t get much easier than this. Just chop leftover pork chops into bite-size pieces and mix them into pasta and sauce. It’s a healthier version of spaghetti and meatballs and tastes great.
10. Sliced Steak Sandwich
Slicing leftover steak into thin strips is an easy way to turn last night’s dinner into today’s lunch. Pile the steak and some cooked onions on bread for a satisfying lunch. To make it even better, top the meat with melted cheese or add peppers when cooking the onions. If you have a leftover bun or roll on hand, try using it instead of regular bread.
When you have leftovers, don’t let them go to waste. Instead, try the recipes above or get creative and devise unique ways to use them. You might find a new favorite way of enjoying some of your favorite foods once they become leftovers.