When cooking for a family it can be hard to get the portions right: from your daughter who’s decided she’s not hungry, to your son who thinks his dinner looks better on the floor, to your husband who has eyes bigger than his belly.
At special occasions like birthdays or Christmas, in particular, we’re all guilty of over-doing it when it comes to food and, although you may feel like you’ve eaten everything in sight, there are always leftovers.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up five recipes perfect for making use of your leftovers, whether it’s the next meal or you freeze them for a later date. Get into the habit of doing this and it will save you cooking time, money and wastage.
Leftovers: roast chicken or turkey
Recipe: Chicken and rice stir-fry
Lightly sauté chopped red peppers, onion, garlic and risotto and basmati rice in a little vegetable oil. Add stock mixed with a small glass of white wine rather than water, and stir regularly until the rice is cooked through. Chop the cooked chicken or turkey and add to the rice mix, stirring and heating for another five minutes.
Recipe: Hearty chicken broth
Chop onion, carrots, leeks and other veg to taste, then sauté these until soft with herbs in vegetable oil or melted butter. Cover so the vegetables soften, then add one to two litres of chicken or vegetable stock and, after about 10 minutes simmering, add the chopped chicken or turkey (without the skin), and warm through for another five to 10 minutes. Blend if you prefer a smoother soup.
Bonus tip: you can use the bird carcass to make stock which you can freeze for future use. Heat the bones in a pan of water until simmering, skimming the protein off the surface regularly. Add vegetables and a bundle of herbs and keep topping up with cold water for 3-4 hours. Strain, pour into a clean pan and boil to reduce.
Leftovers: stale bread and cooked vegetables
Recipe: Vegetable crumble
If you need to boost this with some fresh veg, lightly fry sliced leeks, chopped onions and courgettes then stir in the leftover veg you have along with a light cheese sauce. Use your blender to make your stale (not mouldy) bread into breadcrumbs. Add herbs, grate in a strong mature cheese and a dash of cooking oil to make a crumble topping for your veg. Bake this in an ovenproof dish for 20 minutes on 180°C (350°F or gas mark 4).
Recipe: Baked peppers with fish
Add whole red, green or yellow peppers to boiling salted water for five minutes, but don’t allow them to get too soft. Dry them then brush with a little vegetable oil. Cut their tops off, remove seeds and spoon in a mix of basmati rice cooked in a strong stock, sautéed finely chopped onion and flaked fish leftovers. Perch the sliced-off tops back on and bake for 15 minutes on a moderate heat to fully warm through.
Leftovers: cooked ham
Recipe: Ham and cheese pies
Chop up cooked ham and mix with grated cheese, one finely chopped onion and a whisked egg. Roll out a batch of shortcrust pastry and use a large glass to cut circles of pastry. Make 12 little pie cases in a muffin tin, add spoonfuls of ham and cheese to each then cover with a smaller circle of pastry. Brush each with beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes on 180°C (350°F or gas mark 4).
Tips for storing leftovers
It’s important to store leftovers correctly so you don’t risk making anyone ill. Throw away anything that’s been partly eaten and put the leftovers in sealed containers in the fridge within one to two hours of cooking, allowing them time to cool first. Use within two days.
When freezing meat and fish, make sure it’s fully cooled down before putting it in the freezer, and wrap it properly. When thawing, either defrost it in a microwave or in the fridge, making sure that any juices are caught on a plate. Use it within 24 hours of defrosting.
Do you have any recipes great for using up leftovers? Let us know in the comments section below.