Repurposing Leftovers to Save Time and Money and Help the Planet

bread boule - repurposing leftovers

“At the end of the week, my husband and I do a leftovers dinner, where we have to use whatever’s in the fridge. It’s sort of a game.”

-Lake Bell

The average American family spends $1,500 a year on wasted food. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better ways to spend $1,500 than toss it in the trash. Some of this is thrown away because it gets slimy or smelly before it’s even been used, of course, but repurposing leftovers will reduce waste, especially for those who dislike eating leftovers as they are.

Try these tips for repurposing leftovers:


Un-sauced pasta: Frittata, stir fry.

Pasta with sauce: Top with cheese and bake.

Cheese: Fondue, mac and cheese.

Rice and other grains: Fried rice, rice pudding, casseroles, salads, soups.

Bread: French toast, sweet or savory bread pudding, croutons, French onion soup, stuffing.

Cooked vegetables: Frittata, soups, sandwiches, wraps, omelets.

Poultry, pork and beef: Tacos/burritos, salads, sandwiches, croquettes, omelets, soups, wraps.

Beans: Spreads/dips (puréed), bean patties/burgers, soups, wraps.

Tomato sauce/paste: Freeze in ice-cube trays for other recipes that need only a small amount.

Drained juice from canned tomatoes: Freeze to add to tomato-based soups.

Overripe fruit: Muffins, quick bread, pancakes, cobbler, smoothies, popsicles.


Soft drinks: marinade, barbecue sauce.

Wine: marinade, pan sauce.

Beer: marinade, batter, bread.

Milk/buttermilk/cream: Sauces, soups. Or freeze in ice-cube trays or larger containers to use for cooking later.

What are your favorite tips for repurposing leftovers?