By Carolyn Malcoun , April 14, 2010 - 5:25pm
As much as we try really hard in the EatingWell Test Kitchen to use the entire “thing” when we call for an ingredient (e.g., we like to call for a whole can of broth, an entire vegetable, etc.), sometimes we just can’t. And since I cook at home most nights, often from recipes, I know how annoying and wasteful that can be if I don’t think of a good way to use the leftovers before they go bad. I’ve composted my share of wilted celery bunches, dumped out moldy marinara sauce and forgotten about more than one half-used lemon in the back of my produce drawer. Here are some recipes to help you use up common leftover ingredients so you can eat well and save money.
Use up your leftover cabbage... After you cut into a head, wrap it up tightly and stick it in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks. When you use it again, trim off any of the cut side that turned brown then start chopping. Southwestern Corn & Black Bean Salad  is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover cabbage. I often have all the ingredients at home, and leftovers are great to take for lunch the next day! Click here for more great cabbage recipes .
Use up that leftover celery... How many times have you actually used a whole bunch of celery in a single recipe? I’m going to guess your answer is (almost) never. And while celery is handy to have on hand for making soups and such (and Ants on a Log is always a yummy treat!), celery can be used in more sophisticated dishes too. Try fragrant pears tossed with crunchy celery, Cheddar cheese and pecans in Crunchy Pear & Celery Salad . (Look for Anjou and Bosc pears, which are in season right now.)
Use up that leftover lemon... I love using fresh lemon juice, but often recipes call for just a tablespoon or so and a good-size lemon usually yields about 1/4 cup. What to do with the rest? Try making a quick and easy salad dressing, like Creamy Garlic Dressing . (Find more delicious salad dressing recipes here .) Enriched with low-fat buttermilk and reduced-fat mayonnaise, this thick, garlicky dressing makes a sumptuous topping for potato, pasta or romaine salads. (Storage trick: Squeeze the whole lemon at once, even if you just need a bit, and freeze the rest until you need it again. I put mine in a small jar and just keep squeezing more on top of it!)
Use up that leftover marinara sauce... It seems that my husband and I can never use an entire jar of marinara sauce in one sitting. They’re not exactly made for two people, right? I usually stash the jar in the freezer for when I need it next. Try using some of your marinara sauce in this Polenta & Vegetable Bake , a healthful and comforting vegetarian casserole that is perfect on a cool spring night.
Use up that leftover tomato... Slice it up for your brown-bag sandwich. I like to wrap the slices separately so it doesn’t sog out my sandwich.
What leftover ingredient do you want ideas for? Tell us what you think below.