Use Your Creativity and Clean Out the Fridge |

Let’s face it, we all have them: leftovers. Even when planning out meals for the week, we still have tidbits of nummy goodness lurking in the dark corners of the kitchen. I love a good leftover night, and frankly, it’s a dinner “easy button”. It’s fun to find new ways to use them—you’ll never know what you’ll discover!

Two important things to consider when you’re combining leftovers:

1. Make a (mental or otherwise) list of what is in the fridge or on the counter (i.e. bread or room temperature fruit)

2. Take two ingredients that relate to each other, and see if you can visualize them making beautiful music together.


Go to the interwebs and use the Google Food Blog Search. If you haven’t discovered this glorious tool, allow me to introduce it to you. Take two of your leftovers and plug them into the search box on the site. You’ll be amazed what you can find in there!

Wait, my brain hurts…

Still befuddled and overwhelmed? If you’re not feelin’ it, or suffering from weeknight creativity slumps, here’s some ways you can retool those leftovers (and no one will be the wiser—I promise not to tell if you don’t):

1. Leftover chicken carcass or roasted veggies = slow cooker stock:

I saw this on, and I haven’t made stock any other way since. It’s so easy you might wonder why you hadn’t thought of it before. Here’s how I do it.

2. Leftover veggies = soup booster:

Once you’ve made that stock, use your leftover veggies and any chicken from the carcass (picked off before you made the stock) to make soup, add a grain or two and watch the magic happen. Even better, put it in the slow cooker. You’re a leftover magic maker now!

3. Leftover veggies = “Mixed Bag Salad”:

Take 2+ veggies, mix in some leftover beans, meat if you’d like, or a grain like quinoa, and leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.) and add your favorite salad dressing. Better still: Make a “salad bar” for the family, and let them get their own creativity on.

4. “Mixed Bag Salad” Wraps:

Take #3 and put it in a leftover tortilla, wrap, between two slices of bread or on a bun.

5. Leftover veggies + eggs = Breakfast Easy Button:

Toss leftover veg into soft scrambled eggs, or omelette. Yes, I am a huge fan of “Brinner“. It feels like cheating, but it’s not!

6. Leftovers = Bento:

Have you had this handy Japanese boxed meal? It’s so easy to do. Use leftover pasta, rice, cheese, veggies, fruit or whatever else is laying around. Arrange it in a storage container for an easy bento. Your family will worship you. Really. (If creativity eludes you, search on Pinterest for “bento ideas”… and set a timer. Seriously, it will suck you in!)

Bento example

7. Leftover Grilled Cheese:

I usually have a tomato, apple, pear, bell pepper, or other straggling plant life needing to be used up. Slice them up thinly and add to your grilled cheese. The possibilities are endless on this… and delicious.

I hope this helps you view your leftovers in a different light, or an entirely new light altogether. You might surprise yourself with the options you can come up with. Planning to stretch your creativity with leftovers 1-2 nights in the week will also help your pocketbook. Now, go retrieve those tidbits from the dark corners of the fridge, and get your creativity on!

Do you have a favorite way to use leftovers? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments! Thanks for sharing!

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Brandie Kajino uses humor & eye-blinding enthusiasm to connect, teach & guide others. She can be found trying new recipes, lusting after copper cookware, frolicking through farmers’ markets and sipping hot beverages at a local coffee shop. She writes about her fab finds, simple recipes and “it’s easier than you think” tips on her site,