Reducing Food Waste: Repurposing Leftovers

We’ve discussed the reluctance of people to eat leftovers day after day. Lifestyle magazines often suggest ways to use leftovers for several days in a row, but those methods typically involve a meat-centric meal (e.g., Day 1 roast, Day 2 sandwiches, Day 3 salad) and don’t really apply when you are dealing with a prepared meal like soup or casserole. However, here are some suggestions for how to reuse meals where ingredients have already been combined and flavored.

  • The first thing I do at my home is serve things up buffet style so people can choose among multiple foods. This works pretty well, except that sometimes the portions are small enough that there is really only enough for one person. There is also the issue of how many dishes you use when you are serving things buffet-style. For example, if you have to reheat things and you can’t  use the storage container, you need to find another dish. You also need serving spoons and forks.
  • The Organic Prepper has a lot of very good suggestions in this article. The ones I liked the best were putting the soup or casserole ingredients in a pie or pocket. Obviously, you’d need to make sure the ingredients weren’t too liquid or dry, but otherwise, it’s a great way to get rid of leftovers and pad the meal with some starch.
  • Here’s a good tip from the Hillbilly Housewife (I bet you didn’t think you’d be reading those words in P-Mag): Take leftover soup, pour it over a starch like potatoes and turn it into a casserole. Other ways to thicken up the soup include adding bread crumbs to the top.
  • Although it’s often accidental in my house, I’ve had success turning leftover soup into a pasta dish. In my case, it seems like when I make soups with pasta as an ingredient, the leftover liquid seems to get absorbed, leaving me with a very moist pasta dish the next day. The Kitchn provides solutions on how to achieve this on purpose.
  • Here’s one I wouldn’t have considered, but that makes sense when you think about it: Use leftover soup to make burgers. I think the key to this might be how much you liked the original soup. This recipe is plant-based, but it seems like it would be quite easy to simply mix soup in with ground beef and cook it.
  • Finally, Yummly has some recipes on how to use leftover soup in a casserole. I haven’t tried any of them, but they certainly look reasonable.
  • If the meal you are remaking is more, err, pedestrian (OK, I’m talking about leftover pizza), you should check out this list of solutions provided by our sisters at Cosmopolitan. I can only say that their description of pizza lasagna, I felt like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken. (Yeah, I’m quoting Keats to describe pizza lasagna. I am not ashamed.) Also, anyone who reads their pizza recipes will probably experience the same epiphany I did about Cosmo’s staffers: Those ladies are clearly baked out of their minds most of the day. It explains those sex tips, doesn’t it?
Pizza Waffles
Pizza Waffles a la Cosmopolitan. (Photo credit: Cosmopolitan)

Do you have any suggestions or specific recipes for leftovers that are already prepared? If so,  leave them in the comments. And seriously, at least check out those Cosmo recipes.

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Moretta is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist. Her Twitter is

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