Celebrating &Amp;Quot;Repurposing&Amp;Quot; Food - Celebrating Life with Paula Blog at Allrecipes.com - 302822

Celebrating Life with Paula

Celebrating "Repurposing" Food 
May 17, 2013 10:00 am 
Updated: Jul. 23, 2013 9:09 pm

I hear all the time that people (husbands especially) won't eat left-overs. I can't imagine wasting perfectly good food. I just "repurpose" it. I'm guessing that people get burned out eating the same thing day after day. I definitely would! But if you make something brand new out of it, is it really left over?

My favorite whole chicken recipe is ROAST STICKY CHICKEN-ROTISSERIE STYLE. I love having meat leftover to freeze for a later use or to make a completely new dish out of. In fact, I have a folder in my recipe box labeled "Uses for Leftover Chicken." Here are three recipes from that folder:




This week I made BLACK BEANS AND PORK CHOPS. I had pork chops left over, so I decided to fix stir-fry for dinner two nights later. Of course, there are other possibilities as well:




What really made me think about writing this blog is the responses I got from a post on The Buzz. I had made CHARLEY'S SLOW COOKER MEXICAN STYLE MEAT and got some great responses for how I could repurpose that meat into other meals. You can read about it HERE.

So tell me. Do you use left-overs, or do you throw them away? Or do you cook only the amount your family can eat in one meal? If you have some great "repurposing" recipes, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

May 17, 2013 10:07 am
Hi; always try to cook with left overs in mind. They are great for lunches and other dinners. LOL I have even had left over from my left over and repurposed for another meal. I also do freeze for another day.
May 17, 2013 10:17 am
Since we don't eat meat, leftovers tend to be veggies that get repurposed into soups or stir-frys. Beans, lentils or farro go into the freezer or are mixed together and put into a pita for an easy meal.
May 17, 2013 10:20 am
So glad you said that, Marie. I realized I was writing about meats. I hoped someone would chime in about veggies. Thanks!
May 17, 2013 10:29 am
Use up those leftovers! My DH doesn't mind them at all, but I often repurpose them. My Salsa Beef recipe is one that has many reuses. I wish it would be published so I could share it easier! Dh also loves meatloaf sandwiches, Tortilla Soup, vegetable soup, and stir-fry made w/ leftovers.
May 17, 2013 10:42 am
Here ya go, midwestchef. - - - http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/62179607/salsa-beef/detail.aspx
May 17, 2013 10:43 am
Hi Paula. I will only make something with the ingredients that I can easily use. For instance, I will bake chicken breasts, eat one, make some chicken salad with one, a sandwich with another etc. Things like that. I love the recipes above. Good ideas.
May 17, 2013 10:58 am
Hi Paula. Since it's just hubs and myself, we often have leftovers and we love them. Sometimes, if having what I call a T.V. dinner - meat, starch and veggie, I'll bake an extra potato or two to use for an infinite amount of dishes. It's literally taken me years to get use to scaling back the amounts of food I make to avoid waste or feeding the neighborhood. I actually had one neighbor stop answering her door when she saw me coming with a covered dish! We often will have leftovers for lunch in a day or two. This is a fun blog! Thanks for posting. Looking forward to reading other cook's ideas.
May 17, 2013 11:01 am
Nadine and Rosebud - Great thoughts. Thanks for contributing.
May 17, 2013 11:05 am
Cathy - I know exactly what you mean about it taking years to learn how to scale back. Me too! For a while, I would fix a large dish on Mon. and another on Tues. Then we would eat dish 1 again on Wed. and dish 2 again on Thurs. I got tired of that too. So now I'm using the nifty serving adjuster on the recipe. Love that feature!
May 17, 2013 11:38 am
Heavens! I make leftovers on purpose! With a big family and eliminating as much processed food as I can, I cook more that I ever did before. Leftovers are my salvation. Usually leftovers are turned into lunches; mainly meats. I always have rolls baked and ready so after dinner meats get put on a roll, wrapped, labeled and tossed in the freezer. Leftover steak (or any beef really) is run through the food processor and turned into sloppy Joes, cheese steaks or used in tacos. Chicken is also good for tacos or croquettes. We use veggies on sandwiches too. Spinach, broccoli rabe, escarole are wonderful additions to lunch. Eggplant parm is another sandwich fave around here. I grill veggies for a meal one night then add them to a salad the next day and that might include leftover steak or chicken. I also have a container just for soup in my freezer. Leftover corn, carrots or whatever are added and when it is full I make a small batch of soup. I make a huge effort not to waste and "Repurpose" what I can. My kids are disappointed sometimes when there are no leftovers for snacking on. LOL
May 17, 2013 12:18 pm
Hi Paula, i'm like Nadine I cook with leftovers and freezing in mind. Been doing it for so many years it would seem strange not to.
May 17, 2013 1:40 pm
Paula, most of the time I don't have any leftovers. However,a few things like when I make green chili. I have to make extra because my daughter wants to take some home and my husband loves to eat green chili everyday for lunch for 2-3 days. If any green chili is left over I freeze it. Now leftover turkey becomes turkey tacos,turkey soup, etc.
May 17, 2013 2:08 pm
Hi Paula, you would think I always had company coming the way I cook for just the two of us. If I bake a chicken, we eat half and the other goes into enchiladas, chicken fettuccine Alfredo, taco soup, or a chicken & dumplings casserole. For pot roast, I will make french dips or shred and do soft tacos. I never waste any food that I cook. We always have it for lunch the next day or a reinvented dish for dinner. I find it convenient and economical to make more than we can eat at just one sitting. I already use the sticky chicken and slow cooker Mexican meat as standbys. Thanks for sharing some of your recipes!
May 17, 2013 2:29 pm
I have to use leftovers! I try to not have leftovers because things go to the back of the refrigerator, and will get thrown out because we could not be found when we went to look for them.
May 17, 2013 5:24 pm
What's for dinner, mom? - You gave us some great ideas! You've got it all figured out!
May 17, 2013 5:27 pm
manella and Lela - I love it! Two different approaches, but it works for your family.
May 17, 2013 5:28 pm
Cookin'Cyn - You gave me some ideas about other recipes to use my meats for. Thanks!
May 17, 2013 5:30 pm
sueb - Yes! I have had the same issue with the food getting shoved to the back...or in the other frig in the laundry room. Makes me so mad at myself when I find it and discover I've let it go bad! I'm really trying to be better about that.
May 18, 2013 1:44 am
When everyone was home leftovers were an unfamiliar concept and it has taken me decades to stop cooking for a small army. I love being able to reduce the size of recipes here so I still don't have many leftovers. Food is too expensive to throw it away! I find a way to use it. I often will make a freezer plate up so I have something on hand when I don't feel like cooking.
May 18, 2013 4:26 am
I try to fix only what we need for dinner and Bill's lunch the next day. Bill buys family packs of every thing and they get broken down into meal size packages and put away for when needed. There are times depending on the sales that I only have chicken or pork chops in the freezer. I love left overs they however don't normally make it to dinner another day because they will be breakfast the next day.
May 18, 2013 5:57 am
I mainly use leftovers for lunches, but whenever I make ham, turkey, whole chicken or pot roast, I have a dinner repurpose in mind. I love the soup idea "What's for dinner, mom?" gave. Perfect for when you just have a little bit left. I've recently started making homemade soups. This was a great blog Paula; so many good ideas!
May 18, 2013 2:47 pm
We usually eat leftovers for lunches the next day. Sometimes repurposed, sometimes reheated. I double recipes as often as I can and freeze half, so we’ll have enough for another meal (repurposed or reheated). Some of our favorites… leftover Yogurt Cake or Banana Bread VII (AR) = French Toast leftover Jalapeno Chicken II or Mexican Grilled Chicken (AR) = BBQ chicken pizza, chicken quesadillas, or nachos leftover Jalapeno Steak (AR) = steak quesadillas or Philly Cheese Steak Pizza from Pillsbury┬« (AR) leftover Berry Barbecued Pork Roast (AR) = BBQ shredded pork leftover Oven Scrambled Eggs (AR) = Scrambled Egg Brunch Bread (AR) leftover Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes (AR) or Perfect Baked Potato (AR) = Baked Potato Soup I (AR) leftover Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops (AR) = pork chop salad or wraps I could do this all day, but I’ve got to make a grocery list ?
May 18, 2013 2:49 pm
Yogurt Cake and Jalapeno Chicken II are also from this site (AR)
May 18, 2013 4:38 pm
BigShotsMom - freezer plate = homemade tv dinner, right? Great idea!
May 18, 2013 4:40 pm
Joey Joan - Like you, I buy the family packs of meat, too, and break them up into smaller portions to freeze. It always costs less to buy more. In fact, I bought a case of chicken breasts from Zaycon because of the price. It's so convenient to always have meat in the freezer, isn't it?
May 18, 2013 4:43 pm
Tammy Lynn - I keep reading about quite a few people who take left-overs for lunch the next day. I rarely have just enough for one person, but when I do, I always save it to take to my mother.
May 18, 2013 4:49 pm
Lenenski Family - I love the specific recipes you listed! This is exactly what I was hoping people would do. I've already looked several of those up. Now I need to go check out the rest of your suggestions. Thanks so much!
May 19, 2013 4:47 am
My family loves leftovers! Sometimes we eat as is and other times I "re-purpose" them; either way is fine with my crew. We are down to just hubby and I on a regular basis, so leftovers are frequent - I'm still cooking for my family of 4 plus all their friends! My brother was married to a woman that refused to save leftovers. And, I mean she did not save anything - when the meal was over all food got tossed. A 4th of July picnic had some fruit left and macaroni salad (both were still good - they had been sitting in a pan of ice to keep cool) and she tossed. My mom had a fit!
May 19, 2013 4:59 am
I learned long go to cook for the meal-only. We rarely have leftovers, and when we do it is because it is intentional for meals like lasagna or pot pie. The reason I cook like this is because I do not like the taste of day-old meat. Chicken, pork, and many beef cuts on day two have a different flavor which I can taste and do not like it. Vegetables are fine, as are grains. I wish I liked meat on day two, there are so many ways to repurpose-especially with casseroles, Hispanic food, and comfort foods.
May 19, 2013 7:55 am
Mother Ann - Too funny about your 4th of July picnic event. I have been known to go in the garbage after something that was just tossed (garbage liner was clean and item was first thing thrown in:)
May 19, 2013 7:58 am
bellaniki - Thank you for having the courage to speak up. I know there are people who hate leftovers, but you have answered the why of the question, at least for you. I can certainly respect your position of just not liking the taste of day-old meats.
May 19, 2013 6:36 pm
Paula, that is exactly what my mother did! She was so appalled at such waste...
May 19, 2013 7:13 pm
We always repurpose our food! I can't imagine not doing that. Leftover meatloaf goes into the pasta sauce; leftover cornbread is turned into cornbread stuffed chicken breasts; mashed potatoes into shepherds pie; taco meat into enchilada pie; left over veggies & meat are either turned into pizza toppings, wonton fillings or incorporated into homemade soups or chilies (of which I make at least 2 pots a week). Anything else goes into a stockpot (bones or if there's not enough quantity) into the freezer for making stock later.
May 19, 2013 10:12 pm
Litegal1 - Thanks for those specific ideas. I would love to know what your recipe is for cornbread stuffed chicken breasts. That sounds really good.
May 20, 2013 5:57 am
I have to repurpose leftovers! The guys are not able to eat them unless so disguised. At the moment I can't think of anything that hasn't been listed. I got on this morning to catch a new idea for repurposing some steak ;)
May 20, 2013 6:55 am
I always find your blogs so helpful Paula...this is another one...we repurpose food every day....it's nice to get some new ideas here....I will often chop up whatever protein was made the night before....chicken, steak or whatever and add to a big salad the next day....we eat a lot of what I call..."kitchen sink salad"....everything and anything goes....just no wasting.
May 20, 2013 10:58 am
Cat Hill and ellie - So glad you find my blogs helpful. I love getting ideas from other people, so I figure I just might have one or two I can share too :) I don't think I would have ever learned how to make yeast breads had a bunch of folks on this site not encouraged me and given me tips on how to do it.
May 20, 2013 5:50 pm
I tend to cook too much for the two of us, so leftovers are routinely incorporated into new dishes. I freeze zucchini bread in season and it makes a great change during the winter months.
May 20, 2013 7:42 pm
Thanks for commenting, Missouri Farm Wife. I freeze strawberry bread in season.
May 22, 2013 4:01 am
Nothing goes to waist here! But I know people living on welfare, and they threw away about 30% of what they buy. It drives me crazy! Eat the left overs already! lol
May 22, 2013 9:00 am
We love leftovers around here, but to mix things up for lunch , I usually pile veggies and/or meat into a salad (either greens or a grain salad) or make a sandwich piled with all. In the winter, I may throw them into a soup or make a pot pie. We hardly ever throw away leftovers! :) Oh, and I love that roast chicken recipe, too!
May 22, 2013 1:09 pm
RatherBeCooking and wisweetp - Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure lots of people waste food by refusing to eat left-overs. Maybe we should start a movement! LOL
Nonna's girl 
May 23, 2013 8:35 am
Thanks for the good ideas I'm always looking for "re-purposing" ideas. Nonna was a Depression baby she could make a four-star family dinner out of things she froze last month.
May 23, 2013 3:37 pm
I live alone and generally cook just enough for one meal. But if there is food left over or if I have a roast or a whole chicken I use all of it. I'll have a meal or two reheated then repurpose the rest. I love making curries, fried rice, enchiladas, and soups with left overs. I'll make an entire chicken, and make chicken and dumplings, and chicken salad. It's enough for at least a week's worth of meals. And with varying spices, and sides it's never boring.
May 24, 2013 9:02 am
Paula, here's the link for the Cornbread Stuffed Chicken Breasts (I found in an old old old Food & Wine magazine years ago - but it Is absolutely delicious with a lovely apricot marmalade glaze. The cornbread stuffing has just the right amount of heat to cut the sweetness of the glaze. I hope you try & enjoy it!) http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/62223682/cornbread-stuffed-chicken/detail.aspx
Sarah B. 
May 24, 2013 9:14 am
I love to marinate veggies in garlic, olive oil & sometimes lemon, then broil them 'til tender crisp. They make a great side & are wonderful in a salad for lunch the next day. They also make great great omelet filling as well. Thanks for the meat recipes- I look forward to trying a few!
May 24, 2013 12:47 pm
Nonna's girl - Those depression era women knew how to save money and make food stretch, didn't they? I see subsequent generations getting farther and farther away from that.
May 24, 2013 12:48 pm
Linda Sue - Cooking for one must really be difficult. I've had a hard enough time scaling it down to just the two of us. Thanks for your suggestions.
May 24, 2013 12:49 pm
Litegal - Thanks so much for returning and giving me the Cornbread Stuffed Chicken recipe. That sounds wonderful! Saved!
May 24, 2013 12:51 pm
Sarah B - I don't think I've ever marinated veggies. Meat, yes, but not veggies. Wait a minute, I guess I have marinated peppers and onions for kabobs...and they were wonderful. I love the idea of marinating enough for the purpose of using them in salads and omelets. Thanks so much!
May 24, 2013 3:08 pm
After raising five boys, with little leftovers, i find my fridge full of them by the end of the week. Thursday night is usually leftover night. I love leftovers for when the grandbabies spend the day to, more time to play. I often make more then the two of us eat just to have leftovers. Not sure why so many think it is taboo. But, do what makes you happy.
Jun. 4, 2013 9:12 pm
I like to freeze dinners from leftovers. I spoon a dinner into a shallow plastic container or two, labels and date the fronts of the containers, and then I've got yummy meals for taking to work, for feeding hungry family members when they don't want to cook, for using for dinner when I'm too busy, for taking to friends who could use a dinner. . .note: the meals are used faster if the food is put in the container nicely and if the recipe titles are yummy-sounding :)
Jul. 23, 2013 9:09 pm
Lots of thoughts on this one. Most of all it reminds me of my Grandma. She would make a gigantic casserole, plus one small casserole, just in case. It was no wonder she needed the "just in case" casserole, people were constantly dropping by. When anyone did drop by, Grandma always had something delicious and home made for them to eat and enjoy. She canned and froze everything that could be canned or frozen. I find myself falling into the "forgot it in the back of the fridge" way too often. Usually we cook just enough for one meal, but when I'm making something time consuming, I always like to make a bigger batch and freeze or at least refrigerate for later. Of course, it wouldn't be as time consuming if I made less. I guess that's a conundrum. I just can't stand to make a delicious veggie lasagna (this is my favorite - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-vegetable-lasagna/detail.aspx) and not have leftovers, but because of this it takes me 3 nights to make.
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About Me
I'm a wife, mother of 2, and grandmother of 6. I love to cook. I especially like to cook new and different recipes. I don't like to have the same meals week after week. My husband has decided it really doesn't matter whether he likes a new recipe or not because he won't see it again for a very long time anyway!
My favorite things to cook
I like to cook entrees and desserts. I like preparing good, down-to-earth cooking. I also decorate cakes, mostly for the grandchildren now.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Holidays bring out the traditions: chocolate chip cheese ball; crockpot chicken and dressing; and broccoli salad, sweet potatoes and butterscotch pie handed down from past generations. Another thing that must be tradition in my family: we all make new recipes when we have company! My mother, sister, daughter, and I all do this. My daddy never understood why we would risk making something we had never made before. Actually, none of us has ever served company a new recipe that didn't taste good.
My cooking triumphs
Cake decorating: wedding cakes, bridal and baby shower cakes, birthday cakes: Little Pirate, Cinderella, Elmo, Strawberry Shortcake. My friends call me Betty Crocker. When my daughter got married, she had a bridal shower where the guests were asked to write something on an apron. My best friend told her if she needed a recipe or help in the kitchen to ask her mother. If she needed a good place to eat out, ask her.
My cooking tragedies
A 4 tier huge wedding cake that fell apart at 2:00am. Thankfully, I still had time to salvage the cake.
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