As the kids get bigger and older, we don’t often have as many leftovers as we used to have, but occasionally, there is a serving or two left that gets shoved to the back of the fridge shelf.
I try to do a fridge cleanout a couple times a week for lunches and maybe a dinner if there’s a lot.
Using up leftovers is a necessity for a frugal waste-free lifestyle.
Having a good pantry and freezer system is key to using up leftovers. I have to plan to have certain items to make this successful and tasty.
I keep chicken and beef stock in the freezer and have some boxes of storebought organic stock in the pantry.
I have a huge assortment of spices and sauces.
I stock up on canned beans when they’re on sale. I just don’t have the freezer room to batch them from dried. Bags of frozen veggies when they go on sale for $1 or less.
We can our own marinara sauce.
I occasionally buy rotisserie chickens if I have a coupon or they’re on a really great sale. They’re awesome to use in many different recipes and I make stock from the bones.
I try to keep potatoes and onions on hand at all times. Also fresh carrots and celery.
These are our favorite ways to use up leftovers creatively:
I love making soups with various leftovers. This is a great way to clean out the fridge after a busy week!
Creamed vegetable is a favorite at our house to use up old veggies in the drawer.
I can always make soup with leftover chicken like this lovely lemony dill chicken soup.
Vegetable soup is my go-to to throw everything together, especially with leftover beef. I like to add beans and noodles to make it like minestrone.
Beans, lentils, or split peas are great in soup with a ham bone or smoked turkey.
Leftover ham is great for soup like ham and bean soup.
We like to make stock from turkey, chicken, and beef bones. Nothing goes to waste!
Split pea soup with leftover ham and poultry stock is a winner.
Noodles and rice with a cheesy sauce and leftover meat with some veggies makes a great casserole.
Turkey Divan is a great way to use up poultry leftovers.
Pot pie is another favorite with gravy, meat, and vegetables. Refrigerated or frozen dough, or drop herb biscuits on top make it quick and easy!
Leftover grilled meats and all sorts of veggies can be served cold over lettuce greens. I sometimes sneak a bit of bacon to save for later in a salad. This is a great lunch idea.
See our favorite salads.
I love making fried rice for my family. It’s a simple, frugal, easy way to use up leftovers. I often make extra rice just to have leftover for this meal.
My girls like ramen, and I love making it healthier with an egg, leftover meats and veggies, and homemade teriyaki sauce.
Stuffing canned biscuits or crescent rolls with cheese and chopped meats is a fun instant snack or lunch.