What to Do With Leftovers

Amid a busy week, it’s usually not realistic to cook and prepare three meals and two snacks every single day. Meal prepping and batch cooking play an enormous role in establishing healthy habits and getting food on the table, but knowing how to jazz up those leftover meals and ingredients is a unique skill that can save you an immense amount of time and money. Plus, transforming leftovers into something new helps to vastly reduce food waste.

If you’re wondering what to do with your leftovers, here are some common leftover ingredients and how you can breathe new life into them.

What to Do with Leftovers

Cooked Rice + Other Gluten-Free Grains

Recipe Wild Rice Salad

We actually like to cook extra rice and gluten-free grains specifically so we have some leftover! If you have leftover rice on hand, use it to:


Almond Pulp

How to use a nut milk bag

 

We like making nut milk from scratch, so we end up with a lot of leftover nut and seed pulp! Save the pulp in a bag or jar in the freezer, and when you’ve got enough here are 9 ways to use it.


Cooked Chicken or Turkey

Leftover Chicken - What to do with leftover ingredients

A common leftover ingredient, especially around the holiday season. Here’s what you can do with cooked chicken or turkey leftovers:

  • Make a sandwich or lettuce wraps for a bread-free alternative
  • Shred it into your favourite dairy-free soup recipe, like chicken soup or tortilla soup
  • Use to top your salad or pair with roasted vegetables
  • Create a chicken or turkey pot pie with a gluten-free crust
  • Use as a topping for loaded nachos
  • Use in curry-flavoured dishes
  • Stuff them into burritos or make enchiladas
  • Bake a sweet potato, then slice in half and top with leftover chicken/turkey, salsa and guacamole
  • Don’t forget to save the bones to make nutritious bone broth

Burgers

Veggie or meat burgers are great recipes for batch cooking, but sometimes you don’t want to have them the same old way in buns or lettuce leaves. Instead, try serving leftover burgers:

  • With a side of healthy baked French Fries
  • Crumbled up over a salad
  • Broken up into hamburger soup or lasagna soup
  • In a bolognese sauce with gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles
  • As a healthy pizza topping

Salad Greens

dark leafy greens

Didn’t use up all of your dark leafy greens this week? That’s OK! Get extra life out of your greens before they go bad by:

  • Juicing them with low-glycemic fruits
  • Blanch, chop and freeze for later
  • Blitz with olive oil, lemon, nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds for a nut-free pesto
  • Make a few green smoothies and freeze them
  • Wilt them at the end of cooking one-pot meals or Instant Pot meals
  • Bake kale chips

Roasted Vegetables

We like to eat lots of veggies here at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, and roasting them really enhances their flavour. With any leftover veggies you have on hand, you can:

  • Fold into an omelette, frittata or scrambled eggs
  • Toss into savory oatmeal or savory pancakes
  • Use in a stir-fry with leftover rice
  • Bake a casserole with a thick and creamy sauce
  • Whip up a quick and easy soup
  • Stuff them into rice paper wraps or lettuce wraps
  • Blend them with chickpeas to make a veg-infused hummus or dip
  • Make a veggie pot pie
  • Use for pizza toppings
  • Mix into a salad with beans or grains
  • Fold them into gluten-free flatbreads and other baked goods (puréed squash and pumpkin are great for this!)
  • If you have fresh veggies you didn’t get around to roasting, try pickling them

Stale Bread

There are only so many days you can eat avocado toast! Take your leftover gluten-free bread and:

  • Blitz in a food processor for breadcrumbs (save in jars in the freezer for later use)
  • Bake a gluten-free and dairy-free bread pudding
  • Blend with walnuts, roasted red peppers and spices for muhammara 
  • Make croutons
  • Create a bread salad with loads of fresh veggies and tomatoes

Overripe Bananas

Dairy-Free Banana Nice Cream

Photo: That Clean Life

Super brown bananas can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Bake banana bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles or cakes
  • Peel and freeze on baking sheets, then store for dairy-free smoothies
  • Make banana ‘nice cream’
  • Mash into oatmeal and porridge

Crushed Tomatoes or Tomato Paste

What to Do with Leftover Ingredients

Sometimes you don’t use up the whole jar or BPA-free can! Try:

  • Freezing in ice cube trays for a hit of flavour you can use later in recipes
  • Cook with onions, garlic, herbs and veggies to create homemade tomato sauce 
  • Make salsa, plum sauce, ketchup or hot sauce
  • Fold into scrambled eggs or omelettes
  • Use as a pizza sauce
  • Blend with soaked cashews for a vegan ‘cream’ of tomato soup

Fresh Herbs

What to do with leftovers

When stored properly, fresh herbs can last at least a week in the fridge. If you aren’t able to use them up before they wilt, then:

  • Mix with olive oil, then freeze in ice cube trays
  • Blitz to make a quick pesto, then freeze
  • Dry them out, and store in sealed jars in the pantry
  • Make an herbes salad or infused vinegar
  • Add to smoothies and juices
  • Replace half of your salad greens with fresh herbs

We hope these ideas spark your creativity – love your leftovers and use them well!

leftover ingredients

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