Frugal foodie: how to turn leftovers into new meals

If you're one of the many that hates leftovers, here's good news: every refrigerator and pantry contains a range of simple ingredients useful for turning leftovers into tasty meals.

Frugal foodie: how to turn leftovers into new meals

Casseroles and salads are the most common ways to use up leftover potatoes, pasta and rice. But you can also transform them into delicious soups and desserts.

Vegetable variety

  • For a simple casserole, layer leftover vegetables with potatoes, pasta or rice in an ovenproof dish and pour cheese or béchamel sauce over it. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake.
  • Make a pureed soup from leftover vegetables: heat the cubed veggies in a little broth, puree and stir in milk for a creamy consistency. Season to taste and serve with crunchy croutons made from day-old bread.

Variations for old bread

  • Brush your day-old bread with a little water or egg yolk before reheating in the oven for an attractive shine.
  • Soften stale rolls in vegetable or beef broth before using them in meatballs or meatloaf to make the dish especially tasty.
  • If rolls or bread are not too stale, turn them into croutons for salads or soups. Just cut them into bite-sized cubes and toast in a pan with a little bit of olive oil or butter. Heat them until they're crunchy and have browned slightly. The addition of onions, crushed nuts or parmesan cheese provides an extra flavour boost.
  • In summer, when tomatoes are ripe and juicy, nothing beats a bread salad. Chop stale slices of white bread into bite-sized chunks and mix with diced tomatoes, onions, olive oil and wine vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and herbs, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

Other leftovers

  • Serve day-old roast chicken or turkey breast on a green salad, with some combination of veggies, chickpeas, walnuts, pine nuts, raisins, cranberries and cheese. Keep it simple — serve with a classic balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Chicken pot pie is a great way to use up leftover chicken and veggies. Make a thick sauce with milk, flour and butter, along with a dash of salt and pepper. Mix in diced chicken and leftover or sautéed veggies and pour into a lightly-greased baking dish. Top with a premade pie crust: just seal the crust to the sides, cut a few vents in the dough, and bake until bubbly and golden brown.
  • Cooked grains are a nutritious and filling addition to any soup.

Turn leftover chicken into chicken salad

Turns out this is an old wives' tale. When you turn your leftover chicken into chicken salad, the mayonnaise actually helps prevent spoilage. Why? Because commercial mayonnaise is somewhat acidic. The upshot: when you're heading out for a picnic or setting out a buffet, you don't have to avoid mayonnaise — just be conscious of keeping the food cold. And if you know that there will be leftovers, cover the dish and get it in the refrigerator as quickly as possible.

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