11 Meals That Make Terrific Leftovers


Even though I love to cook, over the years, I have come to appreciate meals that are timesavers. I especially favor meals are also frugal and healthy. Cook one meal, and save half of it for the next meal. I serve dinner from the stove, and don't put the entire meal on the table, where people tend to "pick" and eat more than they should. Here are 11 ideas for terrific dinners made from leftovers. (See also: 9 Ways to Actually Enjoy Leftover Pizza)

1. Chili

Whether you like a meaty or a vegetarian chili, it's inexpensive, filling, and making a whole batch (usually six servings) will probably get you through two meals. This vegetarian version is extremely satisfying, especially with a little sour cream and blue corn tortilla chips. Eating beans can help you to lower your cholesterol, and they are a good source of protein. Buying store brands of canned beans will keep your cost low, at around $1.70 a can, or less. (Soaking dried beans is even cheaper, but you have to remember to take that step.) But wait, there will be leftovers!

On night two, try making these little cornmeal chili cups; fill them with your leftover, heated chili and garnish with shredded sharp cheddar. Serve with a tossed salad.

2. Cabbage

Yes, mon petite chou, get yourself a big head of cabbage. It's like… 16 cents a pound. That's awfully hard to beat. For the first meal, check out this Thai cabbage salad. (No need to also buy the red cabbage listed in the recipe, too, unless you want it). I liked it with the addition of chicken.

For leftovers, take the other half of the cabbage and make this super easy cabbage roll casserole (all the flavor, minus the fuss).

3. London Broil

Watch for this versatile cut of beef to go on sale, where it can be had for a remarkable $1 per pound. Aside from being a bargain, beef is a powerhouse for zinc, vitamin B, iron, and protein. For the first dinner, make this summery London broil salad.

Save part of the meat and, for the leftovers, toss into tacos with roasted sweet potatoes, chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream.

4. Rotisserie Chicken

You can get a rotisserie chicken for an astounding value at Costco for just $5. On night one, serve half with these crispy smashed red potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts.

One night two, slice the rest of the meat; toss a salad, and serve with this tarragon French bread. Super frugal folks will take that carcass and make a chicken broth for future use.

5. Pork Butt

I watch for pork butt or shoulder to go on sale when it hits around $1.89 a pound, or less, and buy the biggest one that will fit into my Crock-Pot. With it I make Kalua pig. This will easily feed your whole family on night one. Use part of the meat, add barbecue sauce, and serve on buns. Get more of the aforementioned cabbage and make a coleslaw to serve with.

On the second night, chop up the rest of that cabbage and saute until tender. Add the Kalua pork and heat through. Serve over rice.

6. Quinoa

This tiny grain is bursting with iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin E. It's really good for you. To keep costs down, either buy in bulk or at Sam's Club or Costco. The white quinoa is cheaper than red or black, too. For the first meal, I like this quinoa pilaf served with a salad and French bread. I make mine with vegetable stock, which does, as the recipe suggests, give more flavor.

For the leftovers, take the chilled remains and add diced artichoke hearts and jarred red peppers. Any leftover French bread can be made into croutons. Toss and serve as a salad.

7. Salmon

We eat a lot of salmon, as it's an excellent source for vitamin B12 and vitamin D. I buy the big packs at Costco and split it into smaller pieces. That runs around $8 per pound. For the first meal, try this grilled salmon; and make baked potatoes to serve on the side.

Bake two extra potatoes and on night two, try these decadent potato, salmon, and spinach patties with garlicky dill cream.

8. Pork Tenderloin

With 22 grams of protein in only a three-ounce serving, pork tenderloin is one of my favorite go-tos. Look for it to go on sale for around $4.99, or less per pound, and stock up. I buy big loins at Costco, cut them into three or four one-pound pieces, and freeze. They make a really easy dinner (like this balsamic roasted loin) on night one.

For night two, mix up some Mojitos, fry plantains, and try some easy Cubanos (Cuban pork sandwiches).

9. Lentils

There aren't many things that are as cheap to make (and as filling) as lentils. A 16-ounce bag can be had for less than $3. Besides being a great source of fiber, they also contain potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. For the first meal, lentils prepared in the French style are simple and flavorful.

For the leftovers, let's make lentil burgers. Allow the lentils (about a cup and a half) to come to room temperature. Add two beaten eggs, a half-cup of panko crumbs, salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of flour. Mix well. Shape into patties and fry. Serve on toasted buns with the usual fixings.

10. Tacos

Tacos are usually a very inexpensive meal. They can be filled with so many different things, from hamburger to turkey, fish, roasted vegetables, or just beans. You may spend a lot of time chopping up toppings on night one, but on night two, it's farmer's omelet time. I like to toss all the leftovers into my big skillet, add 3-4 beaten eggs, and fry it up. Top with salsa and sour cream. It's fast and delicious.

11. Turkey

Who says turkey is just for Thanksgiving? The best prices are, of course, around the holidays. When they are less than a dollar a pound, why not buy two and freeze one? Besides being a great source of protein, turkey is also a source of iron, zinc, potassium, B6, and niacin. My husband smokes them in our smoker and on night one, we do a semi-traditional turkey dinner (even in summer).

There will be a ton of meat to package for leftovers. I think my favorite way to feature the meat on night two is in these turkey enchiladas.

How do you salvage leftovers? Share with us!

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