Easy Ways to Repurpose Leftovers

November 4, 2020

This post was contributed by our nutrition intern, Kaitlin Kartchner. She is currently enrolled in Brigham Young University’s Master of Nutrition Science program.

Some leftover foods taste even better the second day… other leftovers get pushed back in the fridge until someone finally gets the courage to touch them. But with a little creativity, most basic leftovers can be reused or repurposed, saving you time, money and fridge space while also minimizing food waste!

Here are just a few ideas:

Grilled or Baked Chicken

Leftover grilled or baked chicken can be sliced, chopped, or shredded and added to many different recipes. Sliced chicken works great on top of salads, in wraps, and as a filling for quesadillas! When shredded or chopped, leftover chicken can be mixed into soup for extra protein and flavor.

Other recipe ideas:

Corns and Beans

Corn and beans are other foods that seem to always be leftover from another recipe or side dish. They’re great additions to quesadillas, breakfast burritos, chilis, and soups. They can also be seasoned with cumin and chili, then used as a topping for burrito bowls or taco salads. 

Other recipe ideas:

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are delicious right after they’re made, but can lose some of their appeal after that. These can be easily diced or cut in wedges and used to make crispy hashbrowns for breakfast (or breakfast for dinner)! They are also great to add to vegetable-based soups once chopped or diced. 

Other recipe ideas:


Sometimes estimating the right number of rice servings to make is difficult, and you end up with way more rice in the fridge than you know what to do with! Brown or white rice can be repurposed into several different meals. Add onions, carrots, peas, soy sauce, and egg for a quick fried rice, or turn it into a cilantro lime rice as a side to tacos or burritos. Spanish rice is another option, and can be mixed together easily with staples you have on hand.

Other recipe ideas: 


Pasta is also on the list of things that’s hard to cook the right proportion. Leftover plain pasta can be mixed with sauces you have on hand or make from scratch and then baked in the oven for a delicious pasta al forno. Smaller pastas can also be reheated and used in chicken noodle soup or minestrone. 

Other recipe ideas: 

Fresh or Canned Tomatoes

Tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and basically anything “tomato” make great bases for red sauce. Simmer them with onions, italian spices, and garlic on low heat to make the perfect homemade sauce for pastas or pizzas. 

Other recipe ideas: 

These are just a few ideas to use things you have left over in new ways, but the possibilities are endless. Try to think of new ways to use things you already have open to decrease your food waste, and also save on money and time spent cooking!