Leftovers Recipes: 26 Delicious Ways to Turn Last Night’s Dinner Into New Meals

We love to reinvent leftovers in my household. The obvious reason is because it saves us money, but it also limits food waste, keeps us healthier when we’re able to avoid grabbing take out, and it motivates me to be more adventurous in the kitchen. 

In homage to Earth Day, I’m sharing some simple tips and recipes to help inspire you in the kitchen to reinvent leftovers, rather than tossing them in the garbage! All you need are some fresh ingredients (which you will most like find sitting in the pantry or your fridge) and some imagination.


Here are 26 leftovers recipes and ideas to turn yesterday’s food into today’s lunch or dinner!

Reinvent Cooked Rice:

rice salad

 Reinvent Cooked Pasta:

caprese pasta

Reinvent Scrambled Eggs:

scrambled eggs

Reinvent Bread:

panzanella-saladimage: Brett Stevens/Getty

  • Puree one-day old bread into homemade breadcrumbs
  • Bread pudding
  • Make croutons by cutting into cubes, tossing with olive oil and baking
  • Panzanella salad (pieces of cubed bread tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Meat or chicken

chicken-stewimage: Clare Mansell/Getty

  • Stuff into wraps with sauteed veggies
  • Add to soups or stews
  • Layer ground beef with mashed potatoes to make a Shepherds Pie
  • Add as a garnish to nachos or stuff into quesadillas