The art of cooking leftovers like a chef

the art of cooking leftovers like a chef

The art of cooking leftovers like a chef

Ah, leftovers and the eternal debate: do you freeze them as is or make something new out of them?

We tackled the subject and came up with a solution: transforming leftovers into ingredients. This might seem a bit over-simplified, but it’s pretty tough not to look at leftovers like the meal it was earlier in the week. We’ve built a bank of recipe ideas and simple meals that will make it easier!

Easy leftover mishmash

Cooking leftovers is not what you’d call glamourous. It’s already not what you’d call motivating and your fridge is running on empty. This is when you can go down the wrong path. Getting rid of leftovers doesn’t necessarily mean eating the same thing over and over. Not all recipes need a lot of ingredients! Here are several ideas to improve your empty-fridge recipes.


Chinese Sesame and Beef MacaroniKnown for its simplicity and the fact that it’s totally delish, pasta already has a place in the last-minute recipe repertoire. You love them because they help you use up leftovers pretty easily. To become a pasta pro, consult our Pasta: The secret’s in the sauce article that has many tips and recipes!

Fried rice

Fried riceNope, there’s no need to resort to just adding chicken to this delicious recipe! Try other leftover meat whether it’s pulled, braised, roasted, a filet or whatever else you’ve got.

It’s also possible to enjoy this meal with seafood and even legumes! There’s nothing better for leftover rice.

It’s also an excellent way to use up veggies that have lose some of their flavour. Just remove the iffy parts and add them to your most succulent dishes! If you want to be a little different, cut them into funny shapes or grate them. A small change can completely transform your meal.


Pork and Shrimp Thai Stir FrySimple, quick and delicious, stir-fries are showing up more and more on the culinary scene. They’re an excellent way to hide leftover meat and veggies.

Nothing is easier to prepare than this quick stir-fry recipe!


Tuna, Vegetables and Bacon PizzaMaking a pizza is an excellent way to use up leftovers. Meat or veggie, just throw it on top! There are many options like different kinds of crust or sauces that will make your pizza different every time. Whether it’s Alfredo sauce on a tortilla or salsa on naan, there are as many combinations as there are tastes.

Single ingredients

Some ingredients are so uninspiring that it’s hard to reinvent them in a dish. It ends up going to waste because you just don’t know what to do with it, but you don’t have to worry anymore because we’ve got excellent solutions to this problem!

Stale bread

Forgot about the baguette from the night before and now it’s hard as a rock? Don’t panic! Bread can easily be turned into croutons or breadcrumbs if you have a food processor. Nothing makes a salad, pasta au gratin or Brussels veggie gratin better!


Just because the traditional pesto recipe is made with basil doesn’t mean that you have to. Not only can you make pesto with just about any kind of fresh herb, but just about any kind of green like spinach, kale, broccoli and arugula will work, too. If you push just a little further, you can even make it with tomatoes, olives or nuts! Here are five herb pesto recipes to inspire you.


A timeless classic, potatoes in any form are often found at the table. You love them so much that you often make more than you need, so what do you do with the leftovers?

Got leftover mashed potatoes? Transform them into root vegetable shepherd’s pie or a California chicken and vegetable pie.

Leftover diced potatoes? Just add a few spices and a pat of butter and you’ve got yourself breakfast potatoes that go great with super sweet corn and scrambled eggs. If not, you can always make a few quinoa vegetable croquettes, a healthy version of the good ol’ potato pancakes. A potato salad is also an excellent option.

Got extra fries? Use them like any other kind of leftover potato or heat them up in the oven or in a pan to crisp them up!

Over-ripe fruit

Forgotten in the drawer, fruit sometimes ripens too much. When this happens, making a compote is the best way to not waste it. Just remove the not-so-fresh parts and cook the rest. You’ll have a healthy and delicious snack that’s easy to prepare!

If you’re not a fan of compote, another trick is to make a crumble or crisp which will transform over-ripe fruit into a star dessert!

And why not add them to a delicious breakfast smoothie? If you’re worried about losing your fruit, make it in advance, then freeze it.


You can put cheese in just about anything. Turn it into a fondue or dip for chips and veggies, of course, but there are other options, too.

Parmesan is a choice ingredient to thicken a sauce. The rind, by the way, is a pure delight when added to a soup or bouillon. Its distinct flavour marries amazingly well with bouillon for a surprising result.

Soft cheeses can revolutionize the way you enjoy omelettes or quiches. Just remove the rind and you’ve reinvented one of the classics. It goes without saying that it’s a real treat!

Cut hard cheeses into small cubes and use them to stuff meatballs. You’ll never eat them plain again.

Ingredients to always have on hand

Ingredients to always have on hand

Some ingredients are just essential in the art of using leftovers and will ensure that your dishes turn out.

In the cupboard

First of all, there are the ever-lasting canned goods because you don’t have to worry about them going bad. From veggies to fish and fruits to legumes, stocking them up will save your life when the time comes.

In packages or jars, sauces are a must. Whether it’s to breathe new life into meat or as a side to pasta, you’ll always find them useful!

Obviously, there are grains. They’re extremely practical whether it’s pasta, rice, orzo, vermicelli or couscous, just to name a few. With these on hand, you can whip up a salad any time.

Finally, for those who aren’t allergic, let’s not forget about nuts. They’ll give you all the protein and fiber to stay healthy. You can sprinkle them onto just about any dish to add a little crunch to your recipes!

In the freezer

Leftover veggies and meat can make superb sandwiches. However, sandwiches do need bread, so why not keep a loaf in the freezer just in case! Then, let your imagination and your tummy guide you. Whip up some wraps or a few croque monsieurs that’ll make any chef jealous! And don’t hesitate to mix leftover salmon, chicken and other meat together for a great sandwich. Just add a touch of mayo and a few spices and you’ll have a delicious meal.

Of course, having frozen veggies in the freezer can save the day, too. Not only are they nutritious, but they’re also delicious in any recipe that has leftovers. As well, with the large selection available on the market today, you’re sure to find a mix that the whole family will love. They enhance taste and increase the nutritional value of your meal making them healthier and more delicious than if they weren’t included.



Now you have the necessary tools to cook leftovers with style, so they shouldn’t pose a problem anymore. Do you have other tricks or recipes for leftovers? Share them with us!

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