While it’s nice to enjoy a freshly-made meal, cooking something from scratch every night isn’t always an option. Finding fresh, exciting ways to make the most of your leftover ingredients isn’t just convenient when you’re in a hurry – it’s also great for your budget! From homemade sauces to roasted traybakes and slimming-friendly lunches, there are lots of ways your leftovers can serve you (again!).
Here are our top tips for making the most of your leftovers, so they always taste as good as new…
Pick a ‘leftovers night’ and use your veggies
When you’re cooking a recipe from scratch, and following your list of ingredients to a tee, you might find that you often end up with a few odds and ends that don’t make it into the pot. A handful of cabbage one day and a loose onion the next can turn into a fridge-drawer full of purposeless, festering veggies. While it can be tough to imagine giving lonely pieces of veg a new lease of life, anticipating leftover ingredients and working them into your weekly routine does wonders for your budget.
Cooking up a recipe with broccoli tonight? There’s no need to buy fresh ingredients for your lunch tomorrow when you’re likely to already have everything you need for our Broccoli and Sweetcorn Fritters. Crunchy, satisfying and mostly prepared with store cupboard ingredients, there’s no tastier place to use up leftover broccoli than combining it with that tinned sweetcorn you’ve had for ages. They’re even better with a chilli and lime dip, if you love a tangy treat!
Bulking out your dishes with extra veg reduces food waste, adds a nutritious boost to your cooking and helps you stock the freezer with ready-made favourites. But if you’re looking to mix things up a bit, why not have some fun finding your stray veggies a new dish to be a part of?
Fuss-free with hardly any washing up after, traybakes are one of the easiest ways to use up a handful of lost-looking veggies. For our Sausage Traybake, we’ve drizzled carrots, onions and potatoes in a honey-mustard sauce, and cut through the punchiness with sweet, juicy apple wedges. Get creative and try out different combinations of freshly-baked seasonal veg or fruit (once they’re coated in our tangy glaze and baked to perfection, you can’t really go wrong!).
You can find even more traybake recipes to inspire you here.
Rustle up homemade soups and sauces
Why not give your veggies a new lease of life by blitzing them into slimming-friendly, homemade sauces? Good for your budget as well as your taste buds, it’ll also save you a few pennies on buying supermarket alternatives.
From base sauces for pasta and bologneses to curries and pies, blending a tasty combination of vegetables, herbs and spices is simple to do – and you can line your freezer with your homemade creations, so they’re ready to bring the flavour whenever you are (just be sure they’ve cooled before you refrigerate or freeze them!).
We keep the calories nice and low in our homely Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Pasta by blending together fresh veg, herbs, spices and a helping of cream cheese. The results are so irresistible, it’s well worth preparing in bulk so you’ve got a ready-to-go base sauce for a quick dinner on another night.
When it’s a fresher, zestier flavour you’re after, you can’t get more delicious or convenient than a batch of homemade pesto. For our Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Tart, we’ve used a garlicky mix of basil leaves, pine nuts and cheese to recreate Italian-inspired flavours, for far fewer calories.
If you don’t have basil leaves, you could always substitute for spare offcuts of fibrous broccoli or spinach and finish with a pinch of dried basil for flavour. Just think of how delicious your spare veggies would be oven-baked in a tart with a vibrant pesto filling…
We love the hearty comfort of a homemade soup, especially when it’s packed with lots of nutritious veggies! Our Cream of Tomato Soup and Croutons comes jam-packed with carrots, celery, cauliflower and creamy butter beans, but there’s nothing to stop you making a few swaps here and there to get the most out of your veg drawer leftovers.
Since they’re oven-baked and coated in garlic, croutons are a delicious way to enjoy bread that’s on the staler side (and you can’t even tell the difference!). Don’t worry about using sliced bread if that’s all you’ve got available – once it’s chopped into cubes, it works just as well!
Make more than you need to avoid any bread going to waste – croutons are suitable for freezing, as long as they’re kept separate from the soup. Whether it’s tomato or a cheesy bowl of Broccoli and Stilton Soup on the menu, you add an irresistible crunch at a moment’s notice!
Enjoy household favourites in a new way
Getting creative with dishes you’ve already cooked can help make revisiting flavours fresh and exciting. One of the most affordable and versatile ingredients out there, minced meat will forever be a batch-cooker’s dream. So easy to portion up and save in tupperware for another day, it’s no wonder there are countless dishes you can serve with the mother of all mince dishes: Chilli con Carne. From pasta bakes to stuffed potato skins, there are plenty of dishes to ensure this household classic never gets boring.
We love our Chilli Cheesy Nachos recipe because it’s the perfect dish for a spare portion of chilli, and an even better way to use up purposeless potatoes. Made for sharing, you can’t beat that melty, golden cheese topping on a cosy family film night.
You can never miss with Spaghetti Bolognese. A surefire crowd-pleaser, what’s not to like about this Italian-inspired classic? While leftover portions are just as delicious served over a bed of freshly-boiled pasta, try your next spare portion over potatoes when you prepare our Bolognese Cheese Fries. Yet another dish that’ll guarantee leftovers night is never dull, this slimming-friendly comfort dish comes in at just 379 calories per portion. Remember, there’s always room for additional chopped veggies if you’ve got some going to waste otherwise!
This recipe is from our third cookbook – if you don’t already have a copy, you can grab yours here.
If burgers are a favourite in your household, our Veggie Burgers are bound to please. They’re the perfect way to use up finely chopped veggies; leftover cauliflower adds a delightful texture to a variety of dishes, and they’re especially filling in these tasty burgers. There’s no way anyone around the table will miss the meat!
When it comes to enjoying a second round of leftovers, you can’t really go wrong with a flavour-loaded wrap. From roast dinner leftovers to pigs in blankets, there’s not much that doesn’t taste delicious served in a low-calorie tortilla blanket. Made with the tastiest leftovers from your favourite chippy dinner, a slimming-friendly Fish and Chip Wrap is a winning option to brighten up lunch-time the next day. With fish or chips already prepared, all that’s left to do is wrap up and serve (with a delicious added serving of mushy peas, of course!).
You can find this and 25 other tasty recipes in our Family Meal Planner.
Organise your leftovers with our meal planner
When it comes to staying ahead and staying organised, our Family Meal Planner is a dream. As well as space to plan out your meals for the week and celebrate your weight loss goals, our brand new freezer-tracker feature makes staying on top of leftover portions easier than ever. So you’ll never miss out on the convenience of a pre-made meal that needs using up!
Getting just a little bit more organised can do wonders for your budget. With our week-by-week meal planning pages, you can make a start by planning meal times around what you’ve already got in the kitchen, and avoid re-buying what you don’t need.
Ready to freshen up those leftover ingredients?
Tell us which of our leftover-inspired recipes you’ll be rustling up first over in our Facebook group, where there are almost 1 million members sharing ideas and motivation! It’s a great space to drop in for a chat or pick up a few tips.
Don’t forget to have a look through our lovely PON gallery – our incredible community have been cooking up a storm lately! Why not share your recipe photos and swap any hints or tips you’ve discovered? We might even send some PON SWAG to thank you!