There are two kinds of people in this world, those that won’t let a leftover go to waste, and those who won’t touch them with a 10 foot pole.  In this final week of my real food on a budget series I am going to share some ways to use up your leftovers and stretch your food budget.

Real Food on a Budget Leftovers

The number one complaint in the “I hate leftovers” camp is that they don’t want to eat the same thing again. While simply re-heating last night’s dinner for lunch today is a great way to use leftovers – it’s not the only way. If you’re nervous about experimenting in the kitchen leftovers also make a good starting point.  Just think, you’ve already had a meal with them and if something goes wrong well you’re not out as much!

Here are some of my favorite ways to use leftovers.


Rice is really versatile.  I often find myself with lots leftover and find it’s much easier to cook extra and have it on hand, than it is to wait for it to cook each time I want some. There are dozens of variations of fried rice out there, not only can you make use of leftover rice but other bits and pieces of meals you have recently had.  Some other ideas include rice balls (sweet or savory), using it as a binder in meatballs, or mixing with lentils or other beans for a salad.


There is nothing better in my world than having leftover cooked chicken.  You can easily make sandwiches with leftover pieces, mix it into my chicken salad wraps, or add some spices for shwarma.  Instead of making pasta sauce with ground meat, try incorporating chicken! Top pizzas, make soup, mix into salads, or my favorite chicken croquettes.

Ground Meat

Just like chicken, ground meat has so many uses.  I often will brown extra meat and set it aside in the fridge or freezer to use later.  It’s one less step to get a meal on the table. The  most obvious ways to use this might be by adding taco seasoning but try adding ranch seasoning, or one of these recipe inspiration seasoning mixes. If you’ve been looking for a way to try Saffron Road’s Simmer Sauces they all are delicious mixed into ground meat and grilled! cook it up and then flavor it up!


Whenever I make vegetables to serve as a meal side  I end up with just a little bit left over.  Instead of tossing them, I keep them in the fridge and use them later.  Some of the things that are great for leftover veggies; Stir fry’s, quiche, quesadillas, sandwich filling, and tartine toppers.

  • Baked or Boiled Potatoes – I love when there are leftover potoates because I have a million uses for them but hate the time it takes me to bake or boil them.  Once they’re cooked you can use leftover potatoes, dice them up and quickly fry for breakfast potatoes, mix with other vegetables and marinade for potato salad, or mash up and make homemade gnocchi.

I hope this has given you some ideas about how you can use your leftovers.  With a little planning you can stretch your food budget even further by making over your leftovers instead of feeding your garbage can or losing them in the back of your fridge!

Want to read all the parts of this series?  You can find them all on the real food on a budget introductory post