How to Use Leftover Ingredients to Minimize Food Waste and Save Money

Italian Frittata with slices of fresh greensSometimes we feel inspired to make a dish we see on Pinterest and shop for the necessary ingredients, only to find out that we only need a little bit of an ingredient. I’ve definitely been there, as the person who was stuck with a 14 pack of tortillas when I was making fajitas for only two people. What do you do with the leftover ingredients? I’m not the biggest fan of tossing leftovers and wasting food (money too), so I’ve looked into some ways for using leftover ingredients. Check out these tips below!


If you have a lot of vegetables and don’t have the necessary ingredients to create another dish with them, there are still options for using them! One idea could be to roast them and serve them with meat for dinner. Or throw all the leftover veges into a pot and make a soup. Veggie quiches and frittatas are other great options for using leftover vegetables. Check out this link for more ideas for using up vegetables.


fresh herbsFor using herbs quickly, try mixing them with scrambled eggs or mixing them into pasta sauce or soups. For long term storage, chop herbs and freeze them with olive oil in ice cube trays. Whenever a future recipe calls for that herb, just thaw the cube with the oil and voila!

Grains (bread, tortillas, baked goods)

For finishing off a loaf of sandwich bread when you’re tired of grilled cheese, try making homemade croutons for salads or a cup of soup! Cut bread into cubes and bake in the oven for fresh croutons. Add Parmesan cheese or garlic for flavor! For a simple recipe, check out this link.

For tortillas, try making breakfast burritos and storing them in the freezer. They keep for about a month and whenever you’re running out the door in the morning on your way to work, they make a great fast breakfast! You can also use tortillas to fry your own tortilla chips. Now you only need salsa or guacamole!


smoothieFor fruits that have a short shelf life (we’re looking at you, strawberries!) try using fruit to make smoothies and protein shakes.  Store leftovers in the freezer, and thaw whenever you get a smoothie craving. If you like to bake, leftover brown bananas are perfect for banana bread.

You can also use leftover fruit as a quick fruit salad or as a topping for frozen yogurt or ice cream. For a warm  topping, put berries in microwave safe bowl with a little sugar, cover with microwave safe plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the wrap with fork and microwave 2 minutes or so. This berry sauce will make a great topping for pancakes and waffles the next day!


Try using leftover chicken or beef for stews, Mexican food, or add it to pastas. Leftover chicken is perfect for chicken salad and with some leftover veges, a chicken pot pie. Leftover marinated meat is also great as protein for salads or in sandwiches for work lunches. Finally, try adding meat to scrambled eggs for a gourmet, protein filled breakfast. Steak and eggs anyone?

I hope these tips inspire you to play with new ingredients, and find ways to use any excess ingredients to create other dishes. Happy cooking!

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Author My First Apartment
Anna R.

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Anna R. is currently a research assistant in a biology lab in the Bay Area and is interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Genetics. When she’s not daydreaming about food and browsing recipes on Pinterest, she likes to spend her free time dancing, paddle boarding and swimming. She’s been through a number of different housing situations and is eager to share her experiences with other MFA readers!

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