Cooking for yourself can be fun and rewarding, as well as good for your health. But how often have you gone to your fridge and see some weeks-old leftovers in the corner? Just like most people, it can be all too easy to forget about food items in your refrigerator. It is part of the problem of food waste.
When you use it, leftovers can be handy. For some foods, the flavors have developed and become more delicious. You can also repurpose them in new recipes! There are plenty of ways to use leftovers, and here are some of our favorites.
If you have any steamed or roasted veggies just sitting in your fridge, simply throw them all into a boiling pot and make soup! Whether it’s zucchinis, spinach, celery, or carrots, all you need to do is puree them with some broth. Additionally, soup is an easy way to pack plenty of nutrients into a bowl.
Don’t like vegan meals? You can add some leftover chicken or beans to add more protein. Serve your soup warm with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and maybe some croutons. If you’re feeling fancy, top them with some cheese and let it melt in the oven for a few minutes.
Stir-frying is quite possibly the most straightforward yet most gratifying cooking technique of all time. You’re retaining the original flavor of each ingredient but elevating them by combining different tastes and textures. You can stir-fry any leftover ingredients you may have, from vegetables to chicken breast, seafood, or even steak cuts.
Don’t forget to use aromatics like garlic, ginger, and green onions to make your dish more fragrant. Cook them in low heat before adding your other ingredients to a higher temperature. It’s also best to use a wok, but a cast-iron pan works well too. Stir-frying is very versatile and easy to master, especially if you follow the right tips.
A lot of people have no idea what to do with their leftover rice, but once you’ve figured out the secret to a bowl of good fried rice, you will never go back. And it is cold rice. When you use freshly cooked rice, they are still tender and can quickly turn into mush. Leftover rice grains that have been in the fridge overnight or longer are firm and easier to separate.
You can throw in any vegetables, meat, or seafood that you have, as well as some eggs. Season it with salt, pepper, and any flavors you feel like eating. We love simple Chinese-style fried rice, but spicing it up with Tom Yum flavors or sweet soy sauce can be excellent too.
French Toast and Breadcrumbs
We have talked about some easy yet fail-proof options for reusing your meat and vegetable leftovers, but what can you do with stale bread? The UK alone throws 900,00 tons of bread each year, or more than 24 million slices daily. When really, stale bread can be the star of a fancy breakfast!
Soak them in some egg and milk mixture to make your French toast. Serve with some maple syrup and berries, and voila! Or you can create some breadcrumbs by processing them in a food processor. Freeze it for months, then use it for your meatball, pasta, mac and cheese, and even fried recipes.
Sandwiches or Wraps
Let’s say it’s a workday on Monday, and you simply cannot be bothered to cook anything. There is still no reason to let your leftovers go to waste. Why not make some sandwiches or wraps? It’s a quick way to breathe new life into your proteins, vegetables, and sauces. All you need is some bread slices and whatever you have in the fridge.
Grilled veggies, chicken breast, shrimp, boiled eggs, greens, and anything else you can think of. It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with a sandwich. You can use any sauces or cheese to make your meal even more delicious. Alternatively, you can also wrap the ingredients up in a tortilla wrap. Sprinkle some cheese and throw it in a toaster oven for the best cheesy goodness!
Before finishing up, we have one good tip when processing leftovers: to think about them as ingredients. It can help change your perception as you think of them as new building blocks instead of uneaten food. Use cooked vegetables for breakfast frittata, make pasta sauce, and make burritos with any remaining meat or rice.
It is all part of leading a more sustainable lifestyle. Just don’t be afraid to get creative!