Chefs Are Sharing Their Genius Cooking Hacks For Leftovers (22 Posts)

As inflation in the US continues to hurt family budgets, it stands to reason that we’ll look for ways to tighten our belts. And now with news out that the world is facing a hunger crisis because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, it’s even more important to know how to keep things cheap when cooking at home.

“Everyone knows about using stale bread for french toast or yesterday’s rice to fry, but what are some other recipes you can use to save ingredients from the trash?” asked u/janoseye over in r/Cooking. We pulled out some of the best responses for you.

1. IKEA’s Cookbook

IKEA has a whole cookbook (you can download it for free) about cooking with scraps

happieKampr & chrstphd

2. Pizza dough

Overproofed pizza dough into foccacia, stale foccacia into croutons, croutons into breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs into meatballs.


3. Parmesan Rinds

Saving parmesan rinds for soups and sauces.


4. Mashed Potatoes

Leftover mashed potatoes into tater cakes or pierogies


5. Veggies

All the leftovers can be used to make a hash/ stir fry or soup


6. Wimpy Vegetables

You can shock old vegetables in ice water to restore their crispness. Stuff like celery, greens, peppers, etc that hasn’t gone bad but has kind of lost its stiff/crisp texture. 2-3 minutes in ice water and it’ll be like new. GAMECHANGER


7. Fruits

Great tip, also people complain when they get berries home from the supermarket strawberry, blueberry etc that they go moldy quickly, I dunk mine in iced water and a bit of salt, then pat down lightly then store in airtight container. They last wayy longer


8. Leftovers

Leftover cooked vegetables make a killer hash or frittata.

Leftover cooked rice becomes rice pudding just by heating one part rice, one part milk (and whatever sweeteners or flavors you want) on the stove in a pot until it thickens to where you like it.


9. Veggies in olive oil

Primavera as the end of the week (or last meal before shopping) meal, can help you use up all your veggies.


10. Savory Toast

Recently had some stale olive bread. Was sad I couldn’t make French toast with olives in it…

Solution: savory French toast. Was amazing! Egg dip included herbs and salt. Topped with Fig balsamic and olive oil. Loved it and plan to make again!


11. Scramble

You can scramble just about any leftover savory food with eggs


12. Roast it

Noone is going to notice those peppers are a little soft and wrinkly if you roast them


13. Old Produce

Old bananas make for an absolutely glorious milkshake with only ice and vanilla.

Old onions are best suited for making fried onion rings.

Old peaches can be easily turned into a syrup liqueur which can bring a cocktail from “alright” to “if I keep drinking this shit I’m going to wake up in a hammock 3 miles from my house.”


14. Stir fry

Oyster sauce – fish sauce – soy sauce – garlic is like the holy grail for any Thai style stir fry.


15. Stocks

If you peel some shrimp, save the shells for seafood stock. Same goes for lobster, mussel, etc shells, fish bones/heads and stuff like that. Freeze it and mix it all together for great seafood stock.

16. Simple tomatoes

When cherry or grape tomatoes start to get all pruny, I like to sauté them with garlic and herbs until blistered. Top with lemon juice and it’s a great side or appetizer.


17. Greens

I’m not sure if this is a revelation to anyone, but eat the greens that come on your beets and radishes! They are delicious. I especially love beet greens, similar but even better than chard imo. When I buy beets now I feel like I’m getting a 2 for 1 vegetable.


18. Apple sauce

Mealy and bruised apples make nice apple sauce. I put applesauce on my morning porridge.


19. Tepache

I make Tepache out of pineapple skins/cores. Pretty much just put it in a pitcher, add some brown sugar and a cinnamon stick or two, and then in a couple of days you have a super delicious 2-3% ABV pineapple wine. A couple days after that, you have pineapple vinegar!


20. Vegetable stock

Vegetable trimmings can be saved up (freezer) then eventually roasted and simmered to make vegetable stock


21. Revive stale bread

This one is a game-changer…. Got stale bread? Briefly run it under the tap (only is there is a lot of crust showing) and throw it in the oven at 400 for like 7 mins or until stuff evaporates. Works absolute wonders for no knead bread. I imagine you can do this with sliced bread just maybe spray water instead.


22. Sub in bacon grease for butter

Bacon grease is indispensable. Use it to fry anything, but know you haven’t lived until you’ve swapped it for butter to make the best-ever chocolate chip cookies.