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It’s a talent to use up leftovers- and practically a skill to have in these uncertain times.
It’s the hallmark of good meal planning; stretching one dinner into two.
Of course, it’s a simple change to turn a roast chicken dinner one night into a chicken salad the next; but what do you do with those really random ingredients, which might not be so obvious?
The trick to use up leftovers in a creative, fresh way takes a bit of time to get the hang of it; but it’ll save you time and money- and sometimes it’s fun, too!
You have to think outside the box and figure out just how you’re going to use up the rest of that buttermilk, but that’s not always so easy when you’re busy and dinner needs to get on the table, pronto.
One Meal, Two Dinners
I get a kick out of going Grandma Style and creating new recipes from random ingredients, reusing foods in ways I didn’t think of before.
Below, I’m sharing some of my best ways to get your old ingredients in new recipes and on the family dinner table.
Reusing Leftover Food #1: red or white miso paste
Miso paste is an umami bomb that punches up the flavor of many a salad dressing or ramen soup, and it also lasts a ridiculously long time in the fridge.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans, but a little goes a long way. Since it’s often sold in package form, it’s almost too easy to buy way more miso than you know what to do with.
Here’s one of my fave recipes for using up that tub of paste before it goes bad:
Reusing Leftover Food #2: old cheese
Listen, I get it. It sounded like a great idea at the time, buying all.the.cheese!
One time I bought so much cheese that the guy at the cheese counter asked me if I was having a party (I wasn’t- it was all for me!) but I got embarrassed by the question and lied and said yes.
In other words, I know how it feels to love cheese.
But that doesn’t mean the cheese in my fridge’s cheese drawer always gets eaten at its prime, so here’s a simple way to use up leftovers like old heels of cheese and dried-out hunks at once, instead of throwing them away:
Reusing Leftover Food #3: buttermilk
Buttermilk is another one of those ingredients where a little goes a long way. Its acidity is an advantage when used in baked goods, because it helps break down strands of gluten, resulting in moist cakes and muffins that bear a slight tang.
But if you bought buttermilk to bake a cake, and didn’t use it all… how the heck are you gonna get rid of this stuff?
Reusing Leftover Food #4: tomato sauce
It’s easy to go overboard on making marinara, red sauce, gravy, or any other iteration of tomato sauce.
It smells and tastes amazing, and is usually pretty simple to prepare. It also freezes great.
But since it’s so good in so many recipes, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Here are a couple of recipes to help bust you out:
Reusing Leftover Food #5: egg yolks
Make an eggwhite omelet recently? Or perhaps whipped meringue? Both leave you with random egg yolks, and it would be criminal to throw them away when you could make them into this:
Reusing Leftover Food #6: chicken stock
Sometimes, a recipe calls for just one cup of chicken stock.
But a box of chicken stock purchased from the store is at least a quart or two, and if you defrosted a container of homemade stock, there’s a good chance you didn’t use it all up, either.
Here’s my favorite Instant Pot recipe to use up leftovers like beef stock or chicken stock (I call this recipe “magic” because it is!)
I hope these recipes and recipes ideas helped you guys! Reusing leftover food can really help you up your game in the kitchen, especially when you’ve got uncommon ingredients from a recipe that might not be in your regular rotation.
This post is the second in the series so far. Here’s what else I’ll be covering in the next couple of weeks: