Quick and Easy Tips to Spruce Up Your Leftovers

Quick and Easy Tips to Spruce Up Your Leftovers

Thinking of throwing away your leftovers? Hold up just one second! 

Research has found that Americans discard nearly 80 billion pounds of food per year. Yup, you read that right, billion. Billions of pounds of discarded food end up in landfills and emit a staggering amount of methane when it decomposes. (Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.)

So, before throwing away those leftovers, think twice. Why be part of the problem when you can be part of the solution? With just a little bit of patience and creativity, you’ll find that it’s surprisingly easy to turn your leftovers into hearty meals that you can actually enjoy. 

Here are some quick and easy tips to spruce up those boring leftovers!

Plan Your Meals

As with all things, the key to transforming leftovers into exciting meals is proper planning. People that are masters at repurposing their leftovers think about last night’s dinner as ingredients for tomorrow’s lunch. By intentionally planning for leftovers, it’ll be easier for you to decide whether to just reheat meals or repurpose them into an entirely new dish. While it sounds overwhelming, meal planning is a great strategy to save time in the kitchen and prevents you from throwing away perfectly good food.

When in Doubt, Stir Fry

Who doesn’t like a good stir fry? Stir fry recipes are a quick and convenient way to make use of leftover ingredients without an elaborate recipe. The great thing about stir-frying is that there really is no strict rule to follow. You can make use of leftover ingredients such as noodles, rice, pork, chicken, beef, and all sorts of herbs and vegetables to create a delicious meal. Before stir-frying, it’s a good idea to slice your leftovers into more manageable pieces to make them easier to mix. You can even mix fresh ingredients into your leftovers – it’s all up to you!

Add Toppings

Instead of completely repurposing your leftovers, why not get creative and add some toppings? Adding sauces, cheese, or fresh herbs and spices can refresh an otherwise boring leftover meal.

Make Soup

Okay, we know soups can be easy to mess up but don’t let this scare you. There are several foolproof ways to turn your leftover scraps into a practical yet nutritious soup. After all, isn’t it gratifying to cook soup from ingredients that you already have? To make soup from your leftovers, first do an audit of your ingredients. You can use cooked meat, veggies, grains, and noodles which you can boil with chicken, beef, or even pork broth.

No Such Thing as Bad Bread

There are a plethora of delicious ways to salvage leftover bread. You can make bread pudding, toast it up to make breadcrumbs for a pasta dish, or fry up those old bread cubes in some oil and garlic to make croutons. In the summertime, there are few more satisfying, simple, and delicious meals than a panzanella salad.

Whip up a Pasta Dish

Pasta is one of the easiest meals to cook. The best part? You can use different flavors to repurpose your leftovers into new and original dishes. For example, you can whip up a quick casserole by using leftover noodles and spaghetti sauce from pasta night. All you have to do is to combine your noodles, sauce, and any leftover veggies in a baking dish and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Next, top with fresh or dried parsley and shredded cheese (preferably mozzarella and parmesan) and bake for another 7-10 minutes. Pretty simple, right?

Find Inspiration Online

This should go without saying but your best friend when it comes to finding the most creative leftover recipes is the internet! If you’re unsure about how to repurpose leftover food, you can always search for recipes online. Who knows, you might even find a new favorite recipe that lets you turn your leftovers into amazing meals!

We know it’s not your problem but the next time you think about throwing away perfectly good food, think about the millions of families here in the U.S. that face hunger and food insecurity every single day. Take a moment to craft amazing recipes out of your leftovers before tossing them in the bin. You might not realize it but you’re already contributing something to the fight against hunger and food waste!