How to love your leftovers

By: Carolyn Malcoun  |  Thursday, September 9, 2010

I heart leftovers. But I know not everyone does. Maybe it’s because many people think of leftovers as eating-the-same-meal-every-night-for-a-week. But I’m going to try to change your mind. It’s easy to transform certain leftover ingredients into completely different dishes if you think a little creatively. And using leftovers can help you save money and avoid waste. Here are yummy recipes—many of which are from our new book, EatingWell on a Budget—to help you rethink your leftovers.
Related Link: 15 Tricks to Save Money on Groceries But Still Eat Well
A lot of people have Pasta Night once a week just like we do. Cooking double the amount of spaghetti takes no extra time and becomes the basis for dinner tomorrow night.
Love Your Leftovers: Make Spaghetti Frittata. Here’s a creative way to use leftover cooked spaghetti: try mixing it with eggs for a filling Italian omelet. If you don’t want to buy separate bunches of fresh herbs, look for an Italian blend package that may contain some of each or use one-third the amount of dried herbs. Get the recipe plus more ideas to use common leftover ingredients.
Cost per serving: 71 cents
Related Link: 15+ Pasta Sauce Recipes to Perk Up Leftover Pasta
Roast Chicken
Why roast one chicken when you can roast two in about the same amount of time? I cut-up the leftover meat into bite-size pieces and freeze it in 1- or 2-cup portions so I can easily add it to soups, stews or whatever suits my fancy.
Love Your Leftovers: Make Crispy Chicken Tostadas. Shredded leftover chicken or turkey tops homemade tostadas in this Tex-Mex favorite. Making your own tostada shells from fresh corn tortillas is easier than you might think—crisp them up in the oven while you prepare the toppings. Get the recipe plus casseroles, soups, sandwiches and salads to use your leftover chicken.
Cost per serving: $2.46
Mashed Potatoes
I love love love mashed potatoes, so I often make too much. I love to tuck leftovers into a weekend-morning omelet with crumbled bacon and shredded Cheddar (yum!), but mashed potatoes can be of good use in other ways too.
Love Your Leftovers: Make Salmon Chowder. Leftover mashed potatoes thicken this substantial soup. Get the recipe plus more ideas to use common leftover ingredients.
Cost per serving: $2.29
Ham is a popular Sunday dinner for some—one that often produces lots of leftovers. Just as I do with chicken, I like to dice up leftover ham and freeze it. It adds loads of flavor to any recipe you put it in.
Love Your Leftovers: Make Ham & Swiss Rosti. Rösti is a traditional Swiss potato pancake typically served as a side dish, but we added ham and cheese to transform it into an easy weeknight supper. Get the recipe, plus more ways to enjoy ham.
Cost per serving: $1.61