Wednesday, October 11, 2023

'UP'-cycling Those Leftovers

 Happy hump day to all.   Chilly start to the day and lots of things on the agenda.  Hope this finds you all well and safe.

I know we are coming into winter and many have been adding to their food preps in many ways.  If you are like me, you don't like going out in the bad weather to shop!  I hate waste and try to find new uses for things all the time - food included.
I know there are lots of people who say they don't like leftovers.  Well, my logic is make them into something different!  Get creative, have fun with your food, and don't waste it.  That food is money!!!!!

CHILI - use it for topping a baked potato - add some cheese or sour cream and you can have a yummy meal.  Place 4 cups of chili in a deep pie dish - mix up a packet of cornbread mix and top the chili - bake as directed for cornbread.  YUM.
Make chili mac or have chili over rice.  Add to your next veggie soup to jazz it up.  So many ways to serve it.  Oh, you can always freeze and have later!!!!!
You add some to your ground meat to extend for a meatloaf.  Add some to your sweet breads or muffins.  Add all kinds of new toppings - to jazz it up.

Roll out and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar and bake until golden.  A yummy treat - mom always did this with bits that were left.   They were great with ice cream or pudding too!!!  Roll out and cover with a nice layer of jam/jelly - cut and roll up - bake until golden.

Top a casserole and bake (like shepherd's pie).  Potato pancakes - super easy and very tasty.  These can be fried and then frozen for later.  Add to soups and stews to thicken.  Make your own version of twice baked potatoes in a casserole dish or ramakins.
Add some of your favorite veggies (uncooked) and throw on some dressing and you have a pasta salad.  Add to stir fried veggies and/or meat for a great lo mein dish.  Throw into soups or casseroles.

Great for make pieces for dressing/stuffing.  Make bread crumbs.   Croutons.  Bread pudding.  French toast.  Bread pizza.  Grilled cheese........

ANY veggie, meat, sauce, broth - freeze in a container for making the next batch of yummy soup.  Dump it all together.

Make an open face sandwich topped with cheese - place under broiler until cheese melts.  Mash beans and add to meatloaf.  My sis used to make the best 'chocolate' cake using pureed leftover baked beans!!!  She learned that trick at the school kitchen she worked for.  The kids never knew the difference.
I love a baked bean sandwich!!!!!
Add to soups or chili or casseroles.

Great for a meat marinade - helps tenderize.  Use in making a salad topping.  Drink it! (I love dill).  Dill juice makes a mighty tasty Bloody Mary when added!  Add some mustard and cloves and use to marinade a ham!

Add to soups or casseroles.  Make sandwiches.  Add to omelets.  Add to stir fry.

Place on a baking sheet at 300 for about 5 minutes.  Fresh as new!!!!  You can do the same in microwave as well - it removes moisture which makes it taste stale.  I have done this with chips as well.
You can grind them up and add to breadcrumbs or add some seasoning and make a great coating for meat or fried veggies.  Add to meatloaf as an extender.  I use crushed stale crackers in making salmon/tuna patties. (cheesy ones are good in this).  Crush and top a casserole before baking - great on top of baked mac n cheese!

You know me, I am just getting started!!!!  There is no limit to the uses and upcycling we can do with our leftovers.  I just love using things in a new way.
I can eat 'as is' for 2 or 3 days - but sometimes I just feel like something different.
Your only limitation is you imagination.

There is no excuse for throwing away good wholesome food.  IF I ever had leftovers when G was here - it became breakfast or lunch the next day.  He didn't care and often requested it. (we have never been breakfast has to be breakfast food kind of people)!!!!!!!!!!!!

So waste not!!!!  Want not!!!  Food is money!!!!
Get creative and use it ALL up!


  1. Great tips Cheryl. It's always fun to remake left overs that I don't freeze for later. I do the pickle brine all the time for chicken. It comes out so moist and tasty.
    It's pouring here so you may have rain later today.
    Have a great day!!

    1. Thanks - I like reinventing things too. Just changes up the taste.
      Sounds yummy.
      It is cloudy right now - they said sunny! Rain coming in later.
      Stay dry!

  2. Excellent ideas! We have been trying to cook for one meal only but that doesn't always work out. We are on the third day of a wonderful beef stew. The freezers have no extra space (thank you Father for the bounty). Have to try the pickle brine for chicken. We kasher chicken but in salt water only.

    The Farmer had Fox59 on this morning for the weather and I saw upper 70's for a couple days. Need to switch out summer things for cold weather clothes. We still haven't turned the furnace on.

    Enjoy this sunny day!

    1. Thanks. I like the chicken tip too.
      Mmmmm - beef stew sounds so good.
      I saw that as well - but it only lasts a couple days then back to 50's for highs. Guess we enjoy what we can get!!!!
      I did run one cycle this AM - the house was pretty darn chilly.

  3. Cheryl, I think I've done every one of those things over the years. There's also chili spaghetti, Cincinnati style. Super fast if you have leftover pasta + leftover chili and some shredded cheese. Maybe diced onion on top. Whole chickens are a favorite (of mine), because you can eat off of them for a week, with each meal being different.

    Speaking of, AZ Safeway has a DC for whole Sanderson Farms chickens at 89 cents per lb., limit 2. Today is Military Day there: an additional 10% off for active military and veterans. Also, if you get your flu shot at Safeway (free), you get a 10% off coupon for your next shopping trip.

    Cooler weather is moving in here after one last burst of warm weather. Days are still mild. Mornings and nights chilly. We had rain off and on Monday. Back to sunny and dry today. Wind advisories for the next few days. This is fall! :-)

    Whatever your plans for the day, remember to have some FUN.

    1. There are just so many options for things we can do with leftovers. There truly is no limit.
      Nice deals.
      Cool here - warming up for a few days - then boom back to cool! It has been windy here for what seems like months! Today is actually calm.

  4. Too funny, your chili suggestion was put to the test last night. There was some left over mac & cheese in the fridge and a container of chili. My son mixed them together and quite enjoyed the combination. I hadn't though of it before I fixed my bowl of chili, but I can see where that could taste great.
    We have a left over night at least once a week - I don't cook that night and we make do with what's in the fridge. There are still things that end up in the compost (our city has just started that program) but we use up most things.

    1. Mac n cheese and chili - yum. What a taste sensation. Smart guy.
      I try to use everything up in some way - hate when things have to be dumped.
      Neat your city has started that!

  5. Just did some freezer rotation... plenty yet in the chest freezer. Wowza! Those hold quite a LOT!! It's not bursting full, but it's full, and I'm glad I checked before sending Hubs out to get 2 whole chickens. We don't need them.

    All of which to say, the two of us don't eat through things very quickly. I'd been cooking smaller for us, and Hubs has been cooking smaller for us, so my question to those cooking for only ONE or TWO... do you still cook big enough for whole other meals from leftovers? We seem to be doing so less and less, but I'd love to know how others meal plan.

    OT: it's quiet here today and I hope I didn't offend by encouraging a little fun. I'm aware of all that's going on right now, have seen all the headlines. Praying, praying. But if I dwell on that stuff it's too easy to get anxious and depressed. Instead I stay busy with other things. Like freezer rotation and applying for S.S. online, getting tickled by some soon to be released cookbooks based on using leftovers (yes, indeed!) and accepting the things I cannot change.--Elise

    1. I can cook for just myself (a meal) - but it depends on what I am fixing. Soup, chili, stew, roast, etc. - no way for one. There is always plenty left for more meals and sometimes to freeze. That is the way I like it - saves from having to make those things quite as often from scratch. Pull it out and heat it up.
      We have to have laughs and/or fun a little each day or we would go mad.

    2. I usually make enough of basics for two or three meals - like macaroni, beans, potatoes, or rice. Once I have basics cooked, then I can improvise with whatever scraps of meats or vegs I have to round out a meal. Soups are made for *many meals* as I'm willing to eat pea soup or lentil soup etc just about every evening for supper.

      News is so negative, we must make sure there is some fun. And plenty of prayers for those in trouble.

    3. It doesn't offend me Elise. : ) I think a balance can be good, let's pray hard though as I know you are doing. I'm pretty horrified and sickened at what I'm hearing after an already difficult day and week. I don't want to be one of those who hears things and then says..."What's for supper?" ...But I know that is not what you mean at all, friend. But we better pray.

    4. It's important (for me) to distract myself and focus on other stuff, but yes, I do pray, Amelia. Am praying. I appreciate here, because it's other topics and always positive! The world could sure use more of that! --Elise

      MaryB, I like that idea. Hubs has been doing okay in the kitchen since my foot surgery, but for the 1st month I had plenty of heat & eat in the freezer. Since then I've prepped or talked him through prep before cooking. Sides have been his struggle. Thank you!

      Cheryl, I've gotten it down to about 2 meals for 2 of chili, stew, etc. Who knew it could be so hard to scale back??!
      LOL! --Elise

    5. P.S. (whispering) I didn't share this, but only one burnt dinner so far since my surgery. Yup. The sausage and potato hash.
      Given I've been *the* cook for 39 years, I think Hubs has done pretty well. ;-) --Elise

    6. I think he deserves an "atta boy" for sure.

  6. What a coincidence....yesterday I made 60 potato pancakes to freeze after I picked up a bag of potatoes for 50 cents at the store. I serve them with soup or a bowl of chilli,

    To answer Elise, I have four people at home, so cook for six. This gives us leftovers for son to take for lunch and always ensures there is something available in the fridge to heat up at an instant. Then once a week we have a leftovers night where everything remaining is used up. I also provide lunches for our workers so sometimes can use up dinner meals for lunches for them as well. It’s a juggle, but nothing is wasted.
    Sometimes I feel that feeding everyone well and keeping it in budget is the biggest “job” I have, sometimes it’s easy and other times it’s a real drag. Louise

    1. Well, great minds think alike!!!!!! Great deal on the potatoes.
      Neat idea to serve with soup or chili!!!!! I have never thought of that - I just serve them as a side or sometimes my meal!
      I believe cooking and shopping for the food and keeping the pantry is a huge job! It does take work!!

    2. Thank you, Louise. Sounds like my kitchen before retirement and empty nest. Our oldest sent me a link to a You Tube cook he watches that reminds him of me, he said. Well... not the guy, who's a youngish cook... but HOW he cooks, using whatever food is on hand and his imagination. I'm very surprised how long food lasts with just the two of us now.

      On the stovetop tonight, sausage and potato hash with eggs, using some leftover Italian sausage. Tomorrow night I'll show Hubs how to make the Tortellini & Sausage (with Spinach) soup we like, as youngest son will stop by after his class. Good thing he eats a LOT or we'd have soup meals through the weekend! I don't mind, but Hubs would. --Elise

  7. We had one of our favorite leftovers for lunch today. We had tacos last night and we always seem to have just a few tablespoon of meat left. Toady I mixed it with salsa and made quesadillas. That used up the leftover cheese, too. I have mashed potatoes in the fridge earmarked for potato pancakes tomorrow night. Thanks for all these smart posts!

    1. That sounds perfect. I really like quesadillas. You can add just about anything you have a little of.
      Sounds like we are all on the same thought train!

  8. Great ideas. Fortunately my DH eats leftovers just fine :) I have trouble cooking for just 2 as well! I often have small leftover bits for breakfast or lunch.

    1. That is great. G did too. He never had a problem with them.
      That just means a free lunch or breakfast in my book!!!!

  9. It's a good reminder, Cheryl. You have some good ideas here. One thing I do if I have a partial jar of pasta gravy (sauce) ; ) is sometimes throw that in with soup, it gives it a really nice tomato based broth. Also we can use it for pizza topping too.

    That's great that G was like that! I like that! Hubs doesn't mind leftovers but I think he is a die hard when it comes to his cereal in the morning. Haha.

    Crazy day here, thought it was going to go smooth and my mom called feeling weird. Long story. I think she's fine now thank the good Lord. Made a big red potato casserole with tomatoe base sauce, ghee, lots of herbs and spices, onion and even a little tofu here and there. Going to make some kale to go with that. I was listening to conservative radio and it did make me feel very upset it kind of brought me down after this past week and this morning but hey...we need to pray as I'm sure everyone agrees. I'm hearing about our troops becoming very emotional (don't want to go in great detail, I'm sure everyone knows). Praying.

    Take care all, ~Amelia

    1. Pasta sauce is so versatile. Yes, I have used for pizza, thrown in soup or chili - the same with salsa.
      I hope all is well with your mom and that it stays that way. I watch or listen to very little news. Not in a hole - but I get enough! Things are just sad now.

  10. P.S. Also stale or unwanted bread can be thrown out for the birds, my mom always did that. : )

    1. Yes, if I have just one or two pieces of old bread left, that is what I do too.

  11. Another thing if anyone is reading, I used cubed leftover potatoes in my scrambled eggs too.

  12. Bookmarked this post! Gotta get that grocery bill under control! Cheryl, I made your quick and easy apple crisp, it’s the best recipe. Apples were organic from a local orchard, free tome with a Blue cross Blue shield pick a peck voucher. Mary