Creative Ways To Use Leftovers
Last updated: March 2022
Did you know that you can reduce food waste by revamping your leftovers? Currently, about 31-40% of food in America gets wasted, most of which are nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.1 Between helping your food budget and saving the planet, it’s time for people to make a change. With a little inspiration, you can transform leftover produce into quick, delicious, and nutritious meals that are perfect for type 2 diabetes. Plus, using leftovers makes proper meal timing easier; you’re just a few steps away from having a meal in minutes.
Ideas for healthy leftovers
Check out these tasty ways to get creative in the kitchen and save yourself time and money while decreasing unnecessary waste.
Revitalize dressed salad greens
Leftover soggy salad? While this may not seem to be worth saving, there are tons of ways to revamp your wilted or dressed greens. An easy way to transform it into something new is by blending it into a pesto. Simply toss the leftover salad into a blender with fresh garlic, olive oil, and a small handful of walnuts. While pine nuts are traditionally used for pesto, walnuts are packed with heart-healthy omega-3s, which can improve your blood lipid profile and decrease blood pressure.2 Enjoy your finished pesto with legume or whole-grain pasta to create an entirely new meal for lunch the next day!
Revive vegetables with frittatas
What better way to use “almost-gone” veggies than by transforming them into a colorful and nutrient-rich frittata. Sautee vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, asparagus, onions, kale, and spinach with a drizzle of olive oil. Add beaten eggs and cover the pan until it’s ready to enjoy. Pair this quick and easy dish with whole-grain toast, fruit, or a side salad. Eat the rainbow, one imperfect vegetable at a time!
Transform roasted vegetables into soups and dips
Not sure what to do with leftover roasted or barbecued veggies? Grab your blender or food processor and transform your vegetables into a delicious soup. Simply add a homemade stock or low-sodium vegetable broth and blend them to your desired consistency. Or, pump up snack time by using leftover roasted vegetables such as carrots, beets, and peppers as a base for a hummus-style dip. Add your leftovers to a food processor with a 15-oz can of drained rinsed chickpeas, lemon juice, and olive oil. Then, blend until coarsely puréed. Enjoy this homemade spread in a sandwich or with whole-grain crackers and fresh-cut vegetables for a fiber-filled snack perfect for helping blood glucose control. Words cannot express hummus you will love these reinvented veggies!
Add leftovers to sandwiches to make unique combinations
Give new life to leftover coleslaw by transforming it into a gourmet sandwich ingredient. All it takes is a quick sauté with a drizzle of olive oil, and voila! Grab the whole-grain bread, some low-fat cheesy goodness, and a handful of crisp coleslaw for the ultimate grilled sandwich creation. Talk about a transformation! As an additional option, pair this crispy coleslaw with a whole-grain pita and leftover turkey or baked tofu cubes. Whatever your tastebuds are craving, use the sweet and tangy crunch of leftover coleslaw to reinvent your lunch!
Leftover scrambled or hard-boiled eggs make an egg-cellent sandwich filling to enjoy at any time of day. Simply chop up your leftovers with dill, pepper, salt, and one tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise for a flavor-filled egg salad. Enjoy it as a sandwich or paired with whole-grain crackers and raw vegetables. It’s a protein-packed dish that you won’t want to miss!
The bonus of less waste
We only have one planet. Consequently, it’s critical to minimize food waste and utilize leftover ingredients. Others in your community may be less fortunate and struggle to find a meal, let alone have leftovers. Waste not, want not! Do your part for the community and mother nature while benefiting from a quick and easy budget-friendly reinvention. It’s time to step up and transform our habits, one leftover dish at a time.
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