Leftovers Ideas and Recipes

Monday, February 20, 2012
Leftovers can be either terrific or boring right? I don't really like to eat the same thing two days in a row unless it's pizza or chicken wings.

Mom taught us at an early to always finish what was on our plates and never to throw away food, there is always someone starving out there.

I learned so much from mom on how to make a meal  stretch on a fixed budget and turn ordinarily leftovers into a spectacular other meal, she had such a gift to recreate and repurpose foods.

I over the years now done the same with keeping those values and passed them on to my own children to ensure nothing goes to waste.

This post is all about how to stretch your budget with simple pantry ingredients, repourposing leftover that aren't boring and recreating those leftovers into a whole new meal easily.

These are all economical and can feed a large family inexpensively.

Easy Meals

Mom was the best at utilizing leftovers she would take leftover meatballs and make the best-baked submarine sandwich on the planet..

I looked forward to whatever she made and never once even noticed it was from yesterdays dinner menu!.

It really instilled values on how important it was not to waste food.

We grew up being very thankful and blessed to be able to get by on so little but believed it was a banquet when served.

Some Tips:

  • If you have any leftovers from the week, freeze them in ziplock bags and use them for another meal the following week.
  • keep some basics in the freezer like frozen peppers, mixed peas and carrots, Asian-style vegetables, green, cut beans, corn and broccoli 
  • always have canned diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, or jarred marinara sauces on your pantry shelf
  • dried beans or canned beans are very inexpensive and a great filler for many foods
  • assorted shredded cheeses
  • white, brown instant, or regular rice is a must-have
  • tiny pasta for soups, spaghetti, or other pasta you prefer to keep on hand it freezes well or store in the refrigerator if you have several boxes
  • freeze herbs IE: fresh basil, parsley it enhances any dish 
  • spices to have on hand: granulated garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, sazon seasoning, cajun seasoning, Italian herb seasoning
  • refrigerator biscuits, frozen pie crusts are good to have on hand for desserts
  • chicken broth, beef broth can or jarred, can creamed soups all staples for repurposing leftovers

Leftover Meats Repurposing Ideas(recipes are all mix and match for all leftovers totally adaptable)

  • leftover pork chops: take off the bone for stews, shred the meat into an air-fried taco, and use  in stir-fried rice
  • leftover steak: beef tips marsala with noodles, Philly steak sandwiches, fajitas, add to soups, put in a simple marinara tomato sauce over rice or pasta, steak caprese
  • hamburgers especially leftovers from a cookout: grind it up in a food processor: make sloppy joes, add to Spanish rice, use as stuffing for zucchini, make cheeseburger soup, stuffed cabbage, make a meat tomato sauce for over pasta, goulash, add a can of mushroom soup and over rice or pasta
  • leftover hotdogs: cut up and fry with home-fried potatoes, make Cowboy Beans or use pork and beans to the sliced hotdogs, sliced the in the center, add and some beaten egg in the hole with chopped peppers and onion, Reuben Dogs
  • kielbasa: add to hobo foil packets with potatoes and corn, use in a jambalaya, slice and fry with cabbage and potatoes, and serve sliced with sauerkraut for Reuben-style sandwiches
  • Italian sausage sweet or hot: add to 15 bean soups, add to hobo foil packets with peppers and onion with potatoes, make a covered sandwich with sauce and mozzarella cheese in sub rolls, slice and add to pita bread with sauce or french bread sliced for pizza, add to scrambled eggs
  • Meatballs: mash and add to rice, stuffing for zucchini, layered with eggplant slices baked with cheese sauce and ricotta, add to a sandwich baked with cheese, make Italian meatballs wraps with arugula and diced tomato with provolone
  • Chicken or turkey: for soups, add to stews, make chicken or turkey salad with mayo, toppings for salads, shred and add hot sauce, shred and add barbecue sauce. add to a stir fry, pot pie,
  • rotisserie chicken or leftover cutlets: for breaded chicken cutlets: slice and add to a jar of alfredo over pasta, add tomato sauce and make chicken parmesan with mozzarella melted, use jarred gravy or cream soups, top chicken cheddar with steamed broccoli, for rotisserie chicken ideas: add to soup, mix with barbecue sauce, mix with teriyaki sauce, or tomato caprese salad and cheese for sandwiches, topping of salad, added to wraps or homemade Hot Pockets, added as a topping for baked potatoes, over rice or pasta, white chicken chili, mac and cheese chicken casserole
  • Lamb: grind the lamb in a food processor and use it for gyros, lamb burgers, in shepherds pie
  • Venison: grind in a food processor and substitute it in cabbage roll soup, zucchini, in chili, or taco filling

Our Recipe Link Idea:

  1. Chicken or Turkey Recipes: Potpie, Chicken Stuffed Zucchini, 10 Turkey Recipes
  2. Pork Recipes: Cubano Sandwich, Fried Rice, Pasta, Beans and Meat
  3. Ground Beef Recipes: Chili, Stuffed Zucchini, Stuffed Cabbage, Stuffed Pepper Soup, Chili Mac
  4. Roast Recipes: Hibachi, Stir Fry
  5. Venison Recipes: Venison Chili, Venison Stew, Venison Fried Rice
  6. Lamb Recipes: Shepherd's Pie,
  7. Sausage Recipes: Hobo Packets, Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes, Cheddar and Sausage Biscuits
  8. Misc Recipes: 20 Bean Recipes, 15 Pasta Recipes, 30 Minute Meals

Handy Small Appliances

  1. slow cooker
  2. toaster oven
  3. microwave
  4. air fryer
  5. electric frying pan
  6. food processor
  7. gas grill

Pin for later

Other Turkey Suggestions

  1. Substitute boneless cooked turkey in your favorite Chicken Soup recipe
  2. use leftover boneless turkey in your favorite Chicken Stew recipes
  3. instead of chicken Oriental Salad make turkey oriental salad or just add with celery, walnuts, grapes, and mayonnaise
  4. add chopped boneless turkey to Stuffed Chicken Peppers instead of chicken or beef
  5. leftover turkey is great in Fried Rice recipes
  6. leftover turkey can be used with store-bought Alfredo, any kind of gravy, or even  Italian Salsa add then served over pasta
  7. leftover turkey is the perfect substitute for Asian Chicken and Broccoli dishes over rice
  8. Tortilla Appetizer Pinwheels are another great way to use up turkey for snacks 
  9. Grind the turkey in a food processor for filling Stuffed Cabbage Rolls instead of beef
  10. One last thing, don't forget you can freeze individual portions of boneless meats for up to 3 months and use it another time if you're ALL TURKIED OUT!


  1. I don't think you can ever be too old for this.

  2. That is so much my kind of dish. I agree, there's no age limit to loving this one. I especially love ways to use leftovers that hide their leftoverness and make you feel like you're eating a brand new dish. It's fantastic.

  3. Great use of leftovers. The best thing is it sounds so good.

  4. Fantastic way to use up leftovers,dear!Have a lovely week!

  5. trekking your yummy blog!!! this dish looks delicious! burp!


  6. Very clever, Claudia. Rather than leftovers - leftovers are transformed anew. Love that concept - and love this comforting dish.

  7. Goulash is a favorite in our house - so comforting and delicious!

  8. Mmm this sounds great, can't believe I've never tried it before! Awesome use of lelftovers. YUM!!

  9. That looks way too yummy to just be leftovers! :)

  10. Oh Lordy this looks amazing! I would kill for a plateful of this wonderful goulash! Oh and some fresh garlic knots, heeeaven!

  11. I remember my mother making goulash, but it never looked this good!


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