Written by: Courtney Kerr

Food tossed is money lost. One the best ways to save money and save time is to use leftovers. Leftovers can be used as a great snack, lunch or even a quick meal when living on the go. Larger meals can be prepared earlier in the week and leftovers can also be used later in the week or put in the freezer and stored in single serving containers.  

The best way to use leftovers it to plan meals by using different food groups and frameworks!


  • Rice – can be used to make fried rice, or added to meatballs, soup and casseroles. Rice can also be frozen and used for later 
  • Bread – Bread, leftover rolls, hamburger or hot dog buns can be frozen if you are not going to eat all of it within a couple weeks. If bread becomes a little dry consider making bread pudding, breadcrumbs, croutons and even French toast.  
  • Pasta– use in pasta salads or casseroles or freeze for later use in casseroles, soups, vegetable dishes or side dish with a sauce.  


  • Any fruit leftover can be added to salads, baked goods, smoothies or pureed and used as pancakes or ice cream topping.  It can also be mixed with yogurt, cottage cheese or pudding.  


  • Leftover vegetables can be used in soups, salad, omelets, pasta dishes and casseroles.  


Beans – can be used as a meat substitute or in casseroles or to make chili   

Roasts– can be sliced to make sandwiches, or shredded to make tacos enchiladas. It could also be cubed and used in casseroles  

Steak/Chop- could be thinly sliced and used to make fajitas, sandwiches and stir-fry  

Poultry-can be used to make casserole, soups, tacos or enchiladas. The meat can also be sliced to makes sandwiches or cubed to make salads.  


Pasta Dinner  

Pasta + Protein + Veggies + Sauce + Seasonings  


Greens+ Veggies + Optional Protein + Optinal Add-Ins+Salad Dressing  

Stir fry  

Veggies + Proteins+ Sauce + Grains  


Protein+ Veggies + Liquid + Grains  


Protein + Vegetables + Sauce + Grains + Toppings  

“Making Leftovers Planned-Overs.” UNL Food, 26 Jan. 2021,