7 Ways to Repurpose Leftovers | Veggiecation© a Culinary-Nutrition Education Program About Vegetables
Thursday, 09 April 2015 12:54

7 Ways to Repurpose Leftovers

There’s nothing like having leftovers after a good meal, whether it’s at your favorite restaurant or within your own home. And if the food is good enough, reliving a delicious meal the following day can be just as good as eating it the first time around. However, there are only so many times one can eat the same thing over and over, and sometimes you run out of one part of a two-part dish. What to do then?

Turn Monday’s Meals into Tuesday’s Tastings! Most people start their week off strong and cook large meals that will last them a couple days, but if you’re anything like us, we get bored eating the same thing day in and day out. Additionally, 40% of food produced in the USA going to waste and we don’t want to add to those numbers. Repurposing leftovers instead of tossing them is a great way to combat food waste! So here are some tips whether you’re repurposing to keep the kitchen exciting or to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Let’s start with an example…

We had some leftover brown rice from Thai takeout (one part leftover from a two-part dish) and a portion of a leftover omelet from breakfast. Add a little coconut oil, liquid amino acids (or soy sauce) and a touch of sesame oil, stir fried and BOOM new meal! (pictured below)

Screen Shot 2015 04 09 at 10.21.52 AM

Tip #1 – Get creative           

Who would have thought a breakfast omelet could be so delicious in fried rice? But when you think about it, it makes sense. Fried rice often has eggs in it so it works seamlessly!

Tip #2 – Remember, the food is already cooked!

You’re really only heating the food up and adding other ingredients to change the texture and taste. Make sure you don’t overcook or dry the food out!

Tip #3 – Chop it up

What better way to make something new and exciting than to make it look different? You won’t be able to make it larger, but you can definitely make it smaller. Chop up leftover veggies and add to pastas, omelets, stir-fries, and more.

Tip #4 – Put it in a pot!

When in doubt, throw similarly spiced leftovers into the same pot. Apply Tips #2 and #3 and get cooking! It may sound odd and unorganized, but as long as the flavors are similar enough and it’s served hot, it’s worth giving it a try! (And hey…if it’s a total fail, so what? Any chef will tell you that cooking is all about experimentation!)

Tip #5 – Don’t add to much oil or salt

Again, at least some part of your new dish will have already been cooked! Take the original ingredients into account when creating your brand new meal.

Tip #6 – Season appropriately

Take note of the flavors in your leftovers. Are they spicy, sweet, savory, acidic, curry flavored; is there coconut there, or maybe some fresh herbs? Compliment present flavors with the appropriate seasonings!

Tip #7 – Leftover…

  • Rice = repurposed fried rice
  • Vegetables = repurposed stir fries, omelets, fried rice, add to pasta, soup
  • Pasta (w/sauce) = baked pasta
  • Pasta (w/o sauce) = add to a soup
  • Proteins (tofu, beans, meat) = salad toppings, taco fillings, sandwiches
  • Salads (w/o lettuce) = toppings for tacos, fillings for wraps, serve over rice
  • Potatoes (baked or roasted) = potato hash

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