Leftover Dinner Ideas

I'm not a huge fan of leftovers but I it is such a horrible waste to throw away food. Every time I visit the market I am shocked how expensive things are becoming. Have you ever left the store with only a few items feeling there's not much in your cart to eat but the bill comes to $50? Here are some shocking facts from an article I found in the New York Times.

One Country’s Table Scraps, Another Country’s Meal

As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. 1
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Source: "One Country's Table Scraps Another Country's Meal" by Andrew Martin, The New York Times May 18, 2008
  The problem isn’t unique to the United States.
In England, a recent study revealed that Britons toss away a third of the food they purchase, including more than four million whole apples, 1.2 million sausages and 2.8 million tomatoes. In Sweden, families with small children threw out about a quarter of the food they bought, a recent study there found. 1
And most distressing, perhaps, is that in some parts of Africa a quarter or more of the crops go bad before they can be eaten. 1

To help keep your grocery bill low and stop wasting food here are a few ideas to help turn your leftovers into a new meal. Personally I can only eat a dish a few times and then I need a change. So, I've learned to get creative in the kitchen. 


Meatloaf is a very versatile dish that can be used in several ways

  • Turn it into chili
  • Add it to marinara sauce for a spaghetti topping
  • Mix it with elbow macaroni and a cheddar cheese sauce
  • Use it to stuff green peppers
  • Make it into meatloaf sandwiches


When shopping for chicken it is best to buy the whole chicken or chicken still on the bone. Not only is it cheaper, the bones can be used to make your own chicken stock. A box of stock usually ranges from $2.50-$4.00. It is easy to make 8 quarts of stock with the remaining parts of a chicken. It's equivalent to getting the stock for free and also being paid to do so. Yesterday I bought a package with 2 chickens for $0.89/lb. The were also free-range without any antibiotics. Here is a short list of ideas. Maybe have roasted chicken the first night and then use the leftovers to create the rest. 

Beef Roast

If the roast is braised there is a likelihood you can save some beef stock.
  • Soups and stews
  • French dip sandwiches 
  • Beef stroganoff


I'd have to say the majority of what I've had to toss in the past has fallen under this category. 
  • Use it in omletttes or frittatas
  • Vegetable soup
  • Add fruit to a green salad
  • Juice it
  • Make fruit smoothies
  • Roast the vegetables for a side dish or sauce


  • Milk: I used to be guilty of pouring out sour milk until I realized the expiration date on organic milk is usually a month away from the day you purchase it. Yes, it is a little more expensive, but how much are you spending when you buy milk every week? Plus it doesn't have any pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, or steroids in it.
  • Cheese: 
    • Sauces
    • Toppings
    • Soup
    • Omlettes
    • With crackers or a baguette, raw fruits and veggies, and a glass of your favorite wine.
  • Eggs: 
    • Sandwiches
    • Burritos
    • Pasta Carbonara
  • Butter: I think Paula Deen would be beside herself if she heard of anyone throwing butter way. In the past it has gotten a bad rap because it was believed to elevate cholesterol levels. As it turns out sugar is much worse for your cholesterol level than butter is. 
    • Biscuits
    • Pie Crust
    • Cookies
    • Hollandaise
    • Bernaise
I hope I've given you some leftover ideas you can put to good use. Here's an article I wrote for more ideas to save on groceries.

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