Leftovers — we have a love-hate relationship with them. They’re a great way to quickly fuel our bodies on a busy day. On the other hand, leftovers don’t always look appetizing, and simply reheating them in the microwave doesn’t always cut it. At times, there isn’t enough food left over for a full meal. The struggle is real.
But that doesn’t mean that you should throw away leftovers! Food waste is a huge setback when it comes to saving money and living frugally. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the total annual cost of wasted food is $1,866 per household – about $155/month. That’s a lot of money that could be put towards..well…anything else! This is why we want to share six simple ways to transform the most common leftover foods into mouth-watering meals that are easy on the wallet.
1. If you have leftover meat or vegetables, make a:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2-3 large potatoes
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Leftover cooked protein of choice (chicken, beef, pork, you choose!)
- Leftover cooked vegetables of choice
- 2 large handfuls spinach
- Fried eggs
- Peel and chop the potatoes into ½-inch cubes. Chop the onion into ¼-inch pieces. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until translucent and then add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Chop your leftover cooked meat and heat it up in a separate pan until crispy. If the meat is dry, you can add more olive oil.
- Transfer the meat to the pan with the cooked potatoes, and add any leftover veggies. Mix and continue cooking until everything is hot. Turn off the heat and add fresh spinach, mixing until the spinach has wilted.
- Serve and top with a fried egg if desired. Enjoy!
2. If you have leftover rice, make:
Cheesy Rice Croquettes
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup cooked, chopped bacon
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Small bowl with water to wet hands
- To a large bowl add the cooked rice, cooked bacon, mozzarella, parmesan, 1 cup of bread crumbs, and two eggs. Mix to combine.
- Dip your hands in water to prevent sticking, and roll the mixture with your hands to form 2-inch balls.
- Fill a bowl with 1 cup of bread crumbs and place the rice balls in the bowl, one at a time, to coat them with the bread crumbs.
- Deep fry the rice balls in vegetable oil or cook them in the air fryer. Serve and enjoy with your favorite marinara sauce.
3. If you have leftover rice, chicken, or both, make:
Chicken Fried Rice
- ½ cup – 1 cup of shredded chicken
- Chopped celery, carrot, onion
- Minced garlic
- Salt & pepper
- 2 eggs
- About 1 cup of cooked rice
- 4 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds (Optional)
- Chopped green onions for garnish (Optional)
- In a pan or wok, heat 3 tbsp sesame oil. Add chopped celery, carrots, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle salt and pepper and fry.
- Add the shredded chicken and let it heat up for about 2 minutes. Move the chicken and veggies to one side of the pan, and on the other side crack the eggs and scramble.
- Add rice, 1 tbsp sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds and fry. Remove and garnish with chopped green onions.
4. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, make a:
Chicken Salad Melt
- Shredded rotisserie chicken
- Chopped carrots, celery, and green onions
- 3 tbsp mayo
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- Bagel, bread, or croissant
- Sliced cheese
- In a bowl mix shredded chicken, carrots, celery, green onions, raisins, mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Place on your bread of choice and add sliced cheese. Toast, in the toaster oven, and add tomato and lettuce. Top and enjoy!
5. If you have leftover roasted or boiled potatoes, make:
Mashed Potato Pancakes
- 1 ½ leftover roasted/boiled potatoes
- ¾ cup hot milk
- ½ stick butter
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp flour
- Salt & pepper
- Chopped green onion & sour cream for garnish
- Heat your leftover potatoes in the microwave and add the hot milk and butter. Mash everything together with a fork or masher.
- Add the flour, cheddar cheese, and egg, season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix with a fork until well incorporated.
- Rub a little bit of oil in the palms of your hands and form small pancakes out of the cheesy mashed potato mixture. In a pan with a little bit of butter, cook the pancakes on both sides until golden brown and serve with sour cream and chopped green onions.
6. If you have a lot of veggies that are about to spoil, make:
Leftover Vegetable Jumble
- Potatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, basically any veggies that you have in the fridge that you want to use up.
- Onions (chopped)
- Garlic (minced)
- 1 can of lentils
- 1 stock cube/bouillon
- Oil or butter for cooking
- Salt, pepper, and dry spices.
- Grated cheese
- If you are using potatoes, chop and boil these separately, set aside when fully cooked.
- In a large pan with oil or butter sweat off the onions and garlic. Add in a stock cube (plus a splash of water if needed) and dissolve.
- Chop your veggies into chunks and add them to the pan, except for leafy veggies like spinach and kale.
- Drain and rinse the lentils and add them to the pan. Season with spices of choice.
- Mix and cook until vegetables are al dente. Remove the pan from the heat, add leafy greens if you are using them, and stir until they wilt with the heat of the other vegetables.
- Toss all of your cooked vegetables into a baking dish and top with grated cheese.
- Bake at 400°F until the cheese has melted, about 15 minutes.
Next time you have leftovers lying around, and they don’t look too appetizing, look back at these revamping recipes to make the most out of every single cent of food you’ve purchased. When you’re ready to restock, open your Flipp app to plan your next shopping trip with the latest deals! *wink*