How to Make the Most of Your Leftovers

How to Make the Most of Your Leftovers
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How to Make the Most of Your Leftovers

A great way to save money is to utilize leftovers. We offer fun ways to transform them into something fresh and delicious.

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Leftover Steak

Bring leftover steak back to life by slicing it thin and giving it a quick sauté in butter. Then stuff slices in flatbread with diced tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, red onions, olives and feta cheese for a delicious steak pita pocket. Or, grab two tortillas and make a steak quesadilla with plenty of shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions and cilantro.

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Leftover Pizza

We have nothing against eating cold pizza the next day, but leftover pie can be used in many creative ways. Try chopping pizza slices up and adding them in frittatas, omelets or quiche. You can even toast pizza squares to make cheesy croutons perfect for soups!

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Leftover Roast Chicken

Whole roast chicken can last several meals, and there are many ways you can use the leftovers. Fix up a chicken salad the next day by topping your greens with sliced breast meat. Shred up leftover chicken and toss in barbecue sauce to make easy pulled chicken. Don't toss the bones! Slow-simmer them in water with vegetables for homemade stock to make delicious soups.

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Leftover Rice

Plain cooked rice is the perfect base for quick fried rice. Just heat it up with your favorite cooked vegetables and proteins and douse with sauce to make this easy and satisfying dinner.

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Leftover Pasta

For a quick pasta salad, add a can of tuna (or choose your favorite cooked vegetables or proteins) to plain cooked pasta. Leftover pasta also makes an excellent base for baked casseroles, which is a great way to use up all your other leftovers. Mix pasta with chopped vegetables, minced onions, canned beans and generous amounts of cheese, toss with your favorite herbs and spices and bake for a crisp, cheesy crust.

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Leftover Baked Ham

Ham is a perfect addition to an egg-based recipe, like quiche or omelets, but it can also make other breakfast foods like muffins even tastier. To make a savory ham and cheese muffin, dice leftover ham and add it to a basic muffin batter with shredded cheese.

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Leftover Roast Turkey

Sandwich slices of turkey breast with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce to recreate the holiday meal. We also love the idea of a shortcut turkey pot pie. Just add chunks of leftover turkey in ramekins, fill with broth and chopped vegetables, top with a ready-made pastry crust and bake golden brown.

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Leftover Soup

Alternatively, you can whip up an easy pot pie using leftover soup, thickened with potato flakes, as the filling. Soups, especially tomato-based ones, can flavor rice and pasta. Change the flavor profile with a bit of hot sauce or salsa. We also love the idea of turning soups into dips by thickening them in the food processor with more solid ingredients.

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Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Got spare spuds? A shepherd's pie is the ultimate recipe for leftovers. Line a pie dish with any leftover meat and vegetables, and then top with mashed potatoes and bake. You can also use mashed potatoes to thicken your soups and stew. Freshly mashed potatoes can also work wonders in baking rich, dense bread, and the cooking water can be reserved for the liquid for yeast breads.

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Leftover Burger Patties

Whether you've got too many patties or buns, there's plenty of ways to make burger leftovers fun to eat. Freeze crumbled hamburger patties for a quick and easy topping for tacos, soups, cheese dips and spaghetti sauce. We also love to beef up our favorite chili with crumbled leftover burger patties.

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Leftover Hamburger Buns

Besides croutons and bread crumbs, hamburger buns make an excellent base for sweet or savory bread budding. Drizzle melted butter over cubed buns, sprinkle with rum-soaked raisins and pour egg, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon over the bread in baking dish to let soak. The wafting smells of this bread pudding as it bakes will start your morning right!

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Leftover Spaghetti

Spaghetti tastes great cooked in a light, fluffy frittata the next day. In an oven-proof pan, cook chopped spaghetti with your favorite fixings like onions or mushrooms, add beaten egg and let it cook on the stovetop before finishing it off it in the oven. Another creative take on this comfort classic is spaghetti pie, a wonderful concoction of a noodle-y crust topped with layers of cheese,vegetables, tomato sauce and more cheese.

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Leftover Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce doesn't last for very long in the refrigerator, so once a jar's been opened we're left trying to find new ways to use it throughout the week. Try diluting sauce with water to make the base for minestrone soup, or whip up a quickie salsa by adding corn, red onion, cilantro, a dash of hot sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix in sour cream, cheese and spices for an easy chip dip.

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Leftover French Bread

Day-old French bread easily lends itself to croutons. Cut bread into cubes and crisp in the oven on a baking sheet, and then brown with a bit of butter in a pan. Slice baguettes for an easy bruschetta appetizer; easy toppings include chopped tomatoes and olives or basil pesto and white beans. We also love tossing greens with crispy seasoned pieces of bread in a vinegar-based dressing for a hearty panzanella salad

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Leftover Egg Yolks

If you're making a recipe that calls for egg whites, there's plenty you can do with leftover egg yolks. Put their rich, thickening properties to good use in homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, puddings and custards.

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Leftover Egg Whites

Besides cooking an egg white omelet, leftover egg whites are perfect for light and fluffy desserts! Treat yourself to macarons, meringue cookies, sweet souffles and angel food cake. When whipping up meringue buttercream frosting, the secret to silky, glossy peaks is to make sure the whites are at room temperature.

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Leftover Cake

For some of us, leftover cake isn't really a problem. But for the rest of us, there are several ways to transform it into something new. Pan-fry egg-soaked birthday cake for decadent French toast, or bake cubed cake in egg batter for a sweet bread pudding. You can always crumble cake, mix it with extra frosting and shape them into balls for crowd-pleasing cake balls.

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To reheat or not to reheat? Too often we ask ourselves that question as we're peering into our refrigerator and contemplating whether last night's dinner leftovers will be today's carte du jour.

If you're tired of eating the same meal but want to avoid letting leftovers go to waste, it's easy to get creative and transform them into something fresh and delicious. Here, we've come up with 17 solutions for lackluster leftovers that will make over roast chicken, pizza, pasta and other popular eats.

Check out the slideshow above to discover 17 ways to transform leftovers into something fresh and delicious.

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