Whenever I make a meal, I make extra to freeze or for my lunch the following day. Over-catering or reincarnating meals saves time in the long run and also saves money with less waste. I am always in a hurry and manage to bypass meal planning (it’s just not my thing!) by simply being creative with the leftovers and making sure nothing goes to waste! With a few staple ingredients knocking around in your fridge and cupboards, you’ll be amazed at the meals you can prepare from food that you would otherwise have thrown away.
Bacon and cheese are the proverbial ‘gaffa tape’ that hold many of my leftover meals together! With a little bacon or cheese, you really can make a meal out of anything!! Here are a few of my favourite recipes that either provide meals for the week or use up the leftovers from the night before!
Baking your own ham is the ultimate in money saving, as far as food is concerned! The price per kilo compared to sliced ham is vastly reduced and it will provide several dinners in the week, as well as being a sandwich filler! Here is the perfect baked ham recipe. We often bake a ham purely for the use in lunches throughout the week but it is also perfect as the centrepiece of your roast Sunday! A thickly cut slice, topped with a fried egg and served with chips, makes a quick classic dinner- the old ones are the best, right? Chopped into cubes and added to pasta dishes, risottos or soups, a little goes a long way. You can even crisp up small pieces in a frying pan to add texture instead of bacon bits, like in this recipe for Tomato Soup with Crispy Ham Croutons.
Risotto is great for using up leftover meat because a little goes a long way and its far quicker to add cooked meat at the end, than have to cook it as part of the recipe.
Chicken risotto is great for using up leftover roast chicken but really any cooked meat will do! You can also use leftover cooked veg, just add it in right at the end so it has time to warm through but not over cook to mush! This fab recipe from Jamie Oliver, uses leftover gravy too- yum!
As well as bacon and cheese, these sauces can turn leftovers into meals in their own right! I always have pots of frozen sauces in the freezer, ready to be pulled out at a moments notice to work their magic! It really does make sense to make double the amount of sauce needed for a recipe if you can freeze it. My life has been saved from being eaten alive by hungry children many times with a pot of sauce thrown over pasta, topped with grated cheese!
- Cheese sauce – Add to pasta with chopped gammon, spoon over fish, use as a pie filling with meat or fish leftovers
- Roasted vegetable sauce – Mix with roast chicken pieces and serve with rice or pasta, use as a dipping sauce
- Satay sauce – I’ve not tried freezing this one but it’s so quick to make and lasts for a week in the fridge! Turn left over chicken or pork into satay by coating the cooked meat/ veg in the sauce and serving with rice or noodles:
Transform a Soup into a Hearty Meal
Adding leftover, cooked meat to a soup can change it from being alight lunch, to a filling dinner. Try adding cubed gammon to spinach and watercress soup or shredded roast chicken to mushroom soup, the possibilities are endless! A poached egg is also a great addition, or a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and a soup wouldn’t be complete without something to dip:
These are my most regularly used recipes for transforming leftovers. Pasta is such a versatile ingredient, the kids love it, it comes in gluten free varieties and is loved by meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. It is always featured in ‘play-date’ meals and is often referred to as an emergency meal in our house! Even if you only have a small amount of leftover meat or veg, chuck it into some pasta, add a sauce and/ or sprinkle of cheese or crispy bacon, and you’re done! Chorizo sausage is another ingredient I always have in the fridge to bring a pasta dish to life, you don’t need much and it goes well with chicken or prawns too. Try this recipe with added shredded roast chicken!
How do you manage your families food waste? Do you love your leftovers? Have you got any tips or favourite recipes for using up your leftovers?