Leftovers can be a treasure trove of opportunities to eat well, save time and save money, if you're smart. The fact is Americans waste an astonishing amount of food -- an estimated 27% of food available for consumption goes to waste, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. But you can put that leftover chicken breast, those browning bananas and those end slices of bread to good use with these simple leftover recipes and tips for using leftovers.
Browned Bananas and Other Produce That's Going BadA lot of recipes, like banana bread and banana cake actually taste better when made with overripe bananas. The browner, the better!
Leftover ChickenWith all the rotisserie chicken recipes out there, there's no shortage of uses for leftover cooked chicken. But what if you only have one leftover chicken breast, not two cups of perfectly-cooked rotisserie chicken? No problem. Chop or shred that cooked chicken breast, and make chicken tortilla soup (with soups, it doesn't matter if you don't have the exact amount of chicken). Or use it in chicken quesadillas or for chicken French bread pizza.
Leftover Hamburger, Taco Meat and the LikeLeftover burgers don't taste great when re-heated; they tend to get overcooked. And who wants to get out all the ingredients for tacos when you only have 1/2 cup of taco meat left? You can use that extra burger in a taco casserole (just skip browning the ground beef, and use the cooked hamburger, crumbled, instead. Or try my meat pie for any leftover cooked meat, from pot roast to taco meat to beef stew.
Leftover RiceLeftovers are a treat when you have leftover rice. Any fried rice recipe tastes best when you start with leftover cold, cooked rice. You can also use leftover rice for rice pudding and rice balls.
Leftover PotatoesLeftover mashed potatoes make great turkey croquettes. They're also great for mashed potato meatloaf. You can also use leftover mashed potatoes in any mashed potato casserole or shepherds pie. Just skip the steps that require making the mashed potatoes, and go straight to adding the potatoes to the casserole or pie.
Stale BreadStale bread makes the best French toast, especially if you're making a baked French toast recipe, where you really want the egg custard to sink into the bread.
Not in the mood for French toast? No problem. Tear up that stale bread (and any heels or other slices you don't want to eat) and place it in a food processor. Voila! Fresh bread crumbs, which make a wonderful topping for casseroles or gratins, like my cheesy cauliflower gratin or for use in meatballs or meatloaf. Remember, every time you make good use of leftovers, you're not only saving money, you're saving yourself the time and trouble of making something new.