Any hate for leftovers should be chalked up to a lack of good marketing. The word “leftovers” isn’t a remotely adequate name for the great gift your past self left in the fridge for Present You. It doesn’t capture their flexibility, or truly clutch nature. But once you learn what to do with leftovers, you truly understand their power, convenience, and versatility.
Even if you just reheat and eat, they’re still a precious commodity—tucked safely and securely in a glass container—waiting ever so patiently to provide an oasis of deliciousness amid an endless desert of daily to-dos.
Leftovers aren’t the unwanted, unloved scraps of past meals. They aren’t ghosts of bygone menus haunting your fridge. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leftovers are a golden gift and an amiable companion on your quest for satiety.
And leftovers can be a culinary springboard to new, tasty, and filling meals with little time or effort. Not convinced? You’ll find the proof in the eight ideas for what to do with leftovers that await you below.
If you want to expand beyond “heat and enjoy,” join our journey into the heart of delicious possibility and let your culinary creative side out to play. Follow along and discover fun, easy, and satisfying options for using leftovers.
Remix with a new sauce, fresh herbs, or a different seasoning profile
Sometimes a shot of fresh flavor can completely transform a dish. That’s the philosophy behind this approach to using leftovers. In a spoonful or two, a sauce or dressing can remake a dish of leftovers into a totally different taste experience. A dose of fresh herbs or a different seasoning mix also work the same magic.
Try this with one of our dip, dressing, and sauce recipes. Or use the compatible sauce or dressing of your choice.
Breakfast hash or scramble
Need to freshen up your normal morning egg routine? Want to know what to do with leftovers from last night? The answer to both questions is a breakfast hash or scramble. It lets your eggs and leftovers share center stage without too much fuss or extra preparation.
Almost anything can become a hearty, delicious breakfast scramble. So the only limit is your imagination. But leftover roasted vegetables, ground or shredded meat, and potatoes are your best bet for a traditional hash or scramble.
A lunch salad is an absolute classic. And it’s a food format that can benefit from a helping of leftovers. Dumping roasted brussels and butternut squash on a bed of your favorite greens is a perfect way to use leftovers and make a more interesting salad.
Soups, stews, or chilis
Nothing fills and warms the belly like a bowl of soup. Except for a bowl of stew. And chili, too, for that matter. Any of these three hot, hearty meals can be packed with leftovers. This is especially true if you’re roasting a chicken. The leftover parts and carcass can make a broth or add protein to the finished product.
Casserole or bake
This approach is more of a dinner option than lunch in a hurry. But the time and patience with your oven-baked remix will pay off. Veggies, potatoes, and protein can join some Whole30 Approved Kite Hill cream cheese or our amazing Whole30 cream of mushroom soup before being topped with some compatible crunchies.
“Sandwich” (Whole30 style)
Leftover turkey on a roll is a well known example of using leftovers. The roll or sliced bread is out during your Whole30, though. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a Whole30-style sandwich with leftover protein as the main attraction. Take a look at these seven options for a Whole30 sandwich that would work with a variety of leftover protein.
A hot wok. A dish of leftover vegetables and protein. A hit of compatible sauce, fresh ginger, and garlic. That’s all you need to stir fry your leftovers into a brand new dish. You can cook this leftover stir fry quickly and experiment with different flavor combinations. Some frozen, pre-riced cauliflower can give you a take-out-worthy experience. (P.S. The sauce in this dish is a great starting point for your stir fry.)
Top a baked potato
Few culinary canvases are as reliably tasty as a baked potato. The fantastic, fluffy filling of your baked potato really only needs some ghee, salt, and pepper to sing. But loading up extra flavor—in the form of leftovers, of course—takes a reliable favorite to a new level of culinary bliss.
You know what to do with leftovers—eat them!
Leftovers are amazing in so many ways. If you want quick, easy, and convenient, you can pull a container out of the fridge or freezer and pop it in the microwave.* It can be that fast and simple. But leftovers also have the flexibility to play a supporting role in a new dish or try on new flavors for a variety of exciting meals.
However you decide to remix, reimagine, or just reheat your leftovers for future meals, cherish them for the gift they are. Leftovers are so much more than the parts left from yesterday’s meals. That’s why they need a new name. How does “fridge treasure” sound?
*According to the FDA guidelines for food safety, 165 degrees is the internal temperature you need to hit when reheating leftovers.