The Art of Leftovers: Cook Once, Eat Twice


If you’re like most people, you lead a pretty busy or maybe even an incredibly hectic life. Instead of heading for the drive thru for a quick meal, plan your meals so you can make two meals (or more) out of your leftovers. Basically, think of how each piece of meat or meal you make can be turned into another quick and delicious offering on another day.  Not only is this healthier for you, it saves you plenty of cash as well.

I am a HUGE fan of leftovers! In fact, I have often said that I should open a restaurant that only served leftovers! Eating something a day or so later allows the flavors to meld and compliment each other. Not everything holds up for reheating. However, here are some dishes that are still good the second time around!

Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken or even pieces of cooked chicken are so versatile. You can take the meat and slice it up for sandwiches or salads. Chop the chicken finely and mix in a bit of mayonnaise, mustard and pepper to make chicken salad sandwiches. Use the carcass to create a low-sodium chicken broth or soup. Keep frozen piecrust on hand so you can make a quick potpie.

Spaghetti Sauce

Traditional spaghetti with meat sauce is one of my favorite leftovers and has more uses than you may have previously thought. Use it as a base for crock pot chili or place it on top of a plate of cheesy nachos. You can even try it in your next batch of shepherd’s pie.

If you have a meat-free tomato-based sauce, it makes a great pizza sauce, soup base or vegetarian chili. Wherever you use plain tomato sauce, you can throw in spaghetti sauce instead.

Roast Beef

Buy a roast in a larger portion than you’d normally buy because there is plenty you can do with the leftovers. Make a hearty beef barley soup or slice it in to a salad. You can also buy some buns, slice it thinly and serve it with au jus for a delicious beef dip meal.

Baked Ham

Baked ham makes a great macaroni and cheese or other pasta topping. Of course, ham and pineapple pizza is always a hit, too. And don’t forget about omelettes, quiches and more.

Mashed Potatoes

Do you ever make too many mashed potatoes and then end up throwing them away, instead of using them again? No need because you can turn them into something exciting and new. Use leftover mashed potatoes for shepherds pie or make it a whole new side dish by adding bits of bacon and cooked onion.


If you serve a meal with white rice, it’s easy to turn that same rice into a stir-fry the next day. Just sauté some vegetables, add a little soy sauce and top your rice. What about a nice rice-stuffed tomato or pepper? If rice pudding is a family favorite, you’ve got your core ingredient all ready to go.

Extending your meals takes a bit of forethought, but it’s well worth it. When planning your meals, think of how you can extend them and plan accordingly. Try to extend at least one item from each meal to another and soon it will become second nature. Once it becomes a part of your regular routine, you’ll see the savings in your grocery bill and the dinner hour will suddenly become less hectic.