While a bit of meal planning will help you reuse leftovers in a timely manner, there are a few tricks to remember that will let you whip up a remade meal without much forethought.
Soup is a great way to repurpose leftovers. Start by melting cooking fat like butter in a soup pot and cooking any raw vegetables you want to incorporate. As these begin to soften, add liquid like chicken stock and toss in any cooked veggies, beans, pasta, or bite-sized chunks of meat. Add seasonings to your liking and serve with crusty bread if desired.
If you roasted a chicken for Sunday dinner, don’t discard the carcass before making stock. Stocks and broth are one of the easiest ways to use up food scraps and some leftovers while saving money by making your own version. For chicken stock, place the chicken carcass in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. If you have herbs, toss them in the pot, too. Vegetables do not need to be whole or peeled and you can use vegetable scraps. Boil the stock for at least an hour, longer for a richer flavor. Strain the stock to remove the vegetables and herbs, then package for the refrigerator or freezer. Stock will keep up to 5 days in the fridge and up to 9 months in the freezer.
Pasta and rice dishes are good vehicles for leftover sauces, vegetables, beans and meat. Lightly sauté leftover vegetables in a skillet then add leftover sauce and meat or beans. Toss this with cooked pasta or rice for a quick meal. If you have a lot of sauce leftover, bake the dish at 350°F for 20-30 minutes so the sauce soaks into the pasta or rice.