12 ways to make leftovers go further

Posted by Ella Buchan on 25 July 2016

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When you don’t have quite enough left to reheat the next day, or to fill lunch boxes, using up your leftovers requires a little more imagination.

Here are 12 tasty ideas to get you started...

Soup it up

Many stews and pasta sauces can be turned into soup. Just add some stock or extra tomatoes and either serve chunky - minestrone style - or blend.

A mushroom sauce, for example, makes a stunning creamy soup, blended with a little extra stock, cream and perhaps some porcini mushrooms with their soaking juices, for a flavour upgrade.

Mushroom soup
Shutterstock via: sarsmis

Fill mini pies

Saucy (and stew-y) leftovers can be used to fill scraps of shortcrust or topped with circles of puff pastry for individual dinner pies. Serve with some veggies or salad.

Try these made with broccoli cheddar soup.

Mini pies
Half Baked Harvest

Bulk with grains

Couscous, bulgar wheat, quinoa, rice... All are masters of turning small amounts of leftovers from roasts, stir fries or casseroles into tasty new dinners.

Various grains
Shutterstock via: JFunk

Make tacos

Roast meat, flakes of fish, salad and veg can be revived rolled up in tortillas. Stir fries, chilli con carne and curries also make delicious fillings. Serve with salad and dollops of sour cream and salsa.

Tacos
The Endless Meal

Build a biryani

Roast or boiled veg, such as cauliflower, potatoes, peas and any meat (chicken, beef, lamb), can be mixed with cooked rice and Indian spices for a delicious supper.

Use scraps of smoked fish like mackerel and boiled eggs for a kedgeree.

Biryani
Homemade

Whip up a risotto

Scraps of roast veg and even a few spoons of uneaten pasta sauce can be used up in an oozy bowl of risotto.

Then you can roll any leftovers into arancini balls.

Arancini balls
Just a Taste

Throw it in a frittata

Eggs are your best friend here. Even that last couple of roast or boiled potatoes, that teaspoon of peas and the little bit of stir fry that no one could quite manage will pack a frittata with flavour.

Roast squash and sweet potato work wonderfully, and you can even add leftover pasta or rice dishes. Who’s up for a mac ‘n’ cheese frittata? Serve with a crisp salad.

Frittata
Shutterstock via: Teri Virbickis

Top a pizza

Keep some dough or ready-made pizza bases in your freezer and use leftover Bolognese, tomato-based pasta sauce, roasted veggies, bacon, ham, chicken, spinach (and so on) to create an entirely different meal.

Pizza
Shutterstock via: Daniel Cozma

Sunday roast pasties

When you think about it, traditional Cornish pasties have much in common with your Sunday roast. Leftover meat, potatoes and veg - even a little gravy - can be tucked inside shortcrust pastry, for a twist on those pockets of deliciousness.

The last bits of your roast beef also make a super salad - break up roast potatoes, slice meat into strips and toss (with any leftover veg) with greens, dressing and maybe a little crumbled blue cheese. Delicious.

Sunday roast patties
Shutterstock via: Anna Shepulova

Revive your ragu

Only a few spoonfuls of Bolognese sauce left? Use for one layer in a lasagne, and throw spinach, roasted veg and mushrooms on the next. Even tastier than the fully carnivorous version.

Or bulk up with extra veg, a tin or two of chopped tomatoes and serve over pasta, baked potatoes or rice. Add spice and kidney beans to make a chilli con carne.

Ragu
Shutterstock via: Shebeko

Pie to patties

Relatively small amounts of leftover fish, cottage and shepherd’s pie can be mixed up and rolled into patties. Add a little flour if the mixture is too wet, and maybe some extra herbs.

For fishcakes, finely-chopped spring onions, coriander and a little fresh green chilli will transform the taste. Use this recipe from Homemade as a guide.

Pie patties
Homemade

Jazz up porridge

Any leftover pud involving baked fruit, nuts, seeds, honey etc can be spooned or crumbled onto your morning bowl of goodness, or served with natural yogurt for a second-chance dessert.

Porridge with fruit topping
Shutterstock via: Yulia Davidovich

Liked this? Then try these: 

Get yourself store cupboard savvy

12 things you never knew you could do with cereal

What to do with leftover tinned foods