Ideas for using leftovers to make new recipes

Please note: This page will be updated as recipes are added. Not all recipes will taste quite the same when made with leftover ingredients, but if you do have leftovers, using them for a new dish can add some variety. See Leftover Guidelines listed at bottom.

If you have leftover chicken, consider making:

Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli
Chicken Gravy over Egg Noodles
Chicken Lo Mein
Chicken Alfredo over Pasta
Mandarin Chicken Salad
Chicken Gravy & Drop Biscuits
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken and Stuffing Casserole
Chicken Potpie
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
White Chili
Grilled Chicken Salad
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Easy Chicken Veggie Appetizer 
Sunshine Casserole 
Best Chicken Pot Pie 
Saucy Chicken Broccoli Bake

If you have leftover ground beef, consider making:

Taco Salad
Incredibly Easy Taco Pie
Stuffed Shells
Beef and Tomato Macaroni
Cheesy Pasta Dinner
Baked Nachos 
Easy Cabbage Casserole 
Baked Soft Tacos 
Homemade Lasagna 
Authentic Spanish Rice with Beans

If you have leftover steak, consider making: 

Spicy Sweet Pepper Steak over Noodles
Spicy Grilled Steak Stir Fry
Beef Vegetable Soup 

Easy Beef Pepper Steak with Rice 
Sweet Beef Vegetable Stir Fry 
Easy Steak and Egg Omelette 
Fajita Salad
Easy Beef Stroganoff
Philly Cheese Steak Wraps

If you have leftover bread, consider making:

Homemade Chicken Stuffing Mix
Asparagus Cheese Strata
Grilled Cheese Loaf 
Homemade Croutons

If you have leftover egg noodles, consider making:

Garlic Parmesan Egg Noodles
Chicken Gravy over Egg Noodles
Bonnie's Tuna Noodle Casserole

If you have leftover rice, consider making:

A beef or chicken stir fry over rice (various ones can be found in the beef or chicken sections)
Simple Fried Rice
Chicken Fried Rice


If you have leftover...

Spaghetti and Meatballs, make Spicy Meatball Sandwiches or Italian Meatball Soup
Chicken broth, make homemade condensed Cream of Chicken Soup or Homemade Yellow Rice
Mashed potatoes, make Gourmet Potatoes

Guidelines for using leftover meats in new dishes:

Grilled meats can be sliced thinly and work well for stir-frys, salads, or fajitas.

Roasted/baked meats can be cubed and used in casseroles.

Seasoned meats can be used in appropriate dishes (e.g. leftover taco meat makes great chili!).

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Thanks for the great ideas for leftovers!

One use for leftover rice that I thought I'd share is to use it for breakfast cereal the next day. This is especially good with brown rice. My kids actually like it better than oatmeal. Just cover the rice with milk and heat it up. The longer you simmer it the softer the rice will get, and the thicker the liquid will be. It's up to you how long to cook. Sometimes I stir an egg in with it. Then just eat it as you would any cooked cereal--with butter and brown sugar or fruit or raisins or granola or...

Thanks for a great site!

I think there should be a new tv contest show that involves taking the contestants to a random person's house, opening their fridge, and giving them 30 minutes to get dinner ready using primarily whatever is in the fridge, though they would be allowed to browse cupboards too.

The "random" person's family gets treated to a dinner, and perhaps some interesting ideas for how to better use up their food in the future.

(I want to be one of the contestants - I think that sort of cooking is my favorite.)

(BTW - got to your site based on a google midwifery news alert about the news story tomorrow. I hope it does go well - and that people actually pay attention - most of the news that has come out of Missouri lately has only been how sneaky the senator was for tricking folks into signing the bill - and no one has paid any attention to the actual content of the bill, and tried to say all sorts of strange things about what it is really about. Here in PA, the news coverage that our midwife received missed the point - that the state "had" to come in and rescue us dumb folks who were tricked into hiring a woman without "proper" midwifery credentials, and then were helpless as things didn't go as we planned. No one seems to notice that we looked long and hard to find this particular midwife, that we are college grads who theoretically aren't the dumbest people on the block, and were actively involved in the decisions in our care - and that we still testify in favor of our midwife, against the state... Who exactly is the state protecting???)

(I guess this shouldn't go on your leftover post, but I am here...)

Leftover chefs... Hmn... interesting idea! :)

I am shocked that Google already indexed my post about the midwifery news broadcast!! I posted that an hour ago or so!! :) We actually live in Ohio right now, but lived in Missouri when our first child was born (at home!) in 2004.

I read your story on your blog... how devastating! It is true that when something goes "wrong" at the hospital it's considered "okay" because there was nothing they could do (even if they had done things that led to the complications!). :(

You can also use leftover mashed potatoes as a binder (like instead of bread crumbs) for things like salmon patties or meatballs. :)

Hi Tammy,

I was given 9 jars of gourmet (Muir Glen) marinara sauce - but I'm moving in 4 weeks! Apart from spaghetti and sauce (duh!) and lasagna, could you or your readers offer suggestions for what to do with the sauce?

Oh, I also use marinara sauce in this frugal and healthy chickpea stew (that requires no fresh ingredients!):

You can make a soup like minestrone or a portuguese sausage just add your Italian spices a bay leaf I would add rosemary and some time or check google for a reciepe.

Ah what a useful page! I have a brand new baby so I have taken to cooking a lot of chicken on Sundays and eating it over the week. I have to say though I have gotten sick of all of my usual recipes, so I cant wait to try yours out. Especially the sunshine casserole! Yumm! I have made a broccoli chicken "bake" as you have mentioned in yours, but I actually did it with this recipe for fried chicken and it came out sooo good!


I throw left over chicken in crock pot pour a bottle of green chile salsa slice onion, slice bell pepper about a 1/2 cup chicken stock. When almost done I will add can diced green chiles if you like spicy you can use diced can jalapeño if you prefer extra spicy use small green fresh chile peppers not red. I make Verde burritos by using refried beans also makes great taco's. Oh yeh also don't forget cheese on burrito I like to use sour cream if to spicy. My friend uses patatoe to thicken the suace before its done don't over cook you want your chicken chunkie if frozen it will take longer to cook.

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