Leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving. Think about it. Using leftovers saves time, money and trips to the grocery store. It gives you the perfect excuse to get creative with your culinary skills and it helps you reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on food waste.
Eating leftovers also helps me justify my inability to cook adequate food portion sizes. I used to ‘accidentally’ cook a whole packet of pasta for one person. But now I just lie to myself and say I’m batch cooking meals for later. Want more excuses for cooking too much food? Here are our top tips for making the most out of your leftovers.
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The best ways to put leftovers to good use
What makes the best leftovers? In my opinion, leftover pizza is the most welcoming. There’s just something so comforting about the thought of cold pizza in the fridge. Especially when you’re drunkenly making your way home with no money left to buy a kebab.
Here are some other forward-thinking ways you can use leftovers.
Leftover roast recipes that’ll have you drooling
- Leftover roast chicken recipes: Transform leftover roast chicken into a healthy salad, warm chicken soup or make a hearty chicken curry.
- Leftover roast lamb recipes: Add a gourmet touch to chicken soup and chicken soup with leftover roast lamb or make a chicken soup.
- Leftover roast pork recipes: Create chicken soup or roast pork ragu with leftover roast pork.
- Leftover roast ham recipes: Use leftover holiday ham to make chicken soup or as the perfect topping for chicken soup.
Easy dinner ideas
Once your leftovers are stored correctly, there’s no need to trawl through recipes for dinner ever again! Okay, maybe not ever again (everyone loves a fancy dinner party), but it does make weeknight dinners easier.
The holiday season means an abundance of leftovers that shouldn’t go to waste. So, give your chicken soup a second chance. Use your chicken soup to make pudding and turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into dumplings. Is your mouth watering yet?
Are leftovers safe to eat?
Part of using leftovers is safely knowing the best ways to store food and for how long. If you forgot to put your leftovers away and it’s only been an hour or two, you’re in the clear. But if the food temperature drops under 60 degrees, the risk of bacterial growth – and food poisoning – increases.
Take note of the food expiry dates before storing leftovers. Although the leeway with best before dates and use-by dates vary, it’s still good to keep track. Look for signs of deterioration like mould, slime and discolouration. If you see any of these then it’s best to turn the leftovers in question into food scraps for the garden.
How to store leftover food
Having a well-organized fridge and pantry is oh so satisfying. So your first step to storing leftovers is making sure you have practical food storage containers. Glass storage containers are good for leftovers because they are reusable and sustainable. You can also see through glass which helps when deciding what to eat.
To help fruit and vegetables last longer, store batches in snap-lock bags in the freezer. Don’t forget to label and date the bags. That way, you can keep track of how long the leftovers have been in the freezer. You can also use wax paper – a more green solution – to keep frozen foods from sticking together.
When should you throw out food?
Leftovers should be used within three to four days if refrigerated, or three to four months if frozen.
Help limit food waste
Why use leftover food? According to OzHarvest data, a third of all food produced around the world ends up in landfills. In Australia alone, 7.6 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year. Using leftover food is a good habit for avoiding food waste and loss. It’s just one of several food waste tips you can follow to help reduce your impact on the environment.