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Making the most of leftovers

We often find ourselves with leftovers at the end of a meal whether planned or not. Maybe you cooked an extra-large chicken with the intention of using the remainder for lunches the next day, or perhaps certain family members just weren’t as hungry as usual.

Throwing away food from the night before or the meal you just couldn’t finish can result in food waste. Instead, using leftovers can become a valuable source of additional meals the next day, saving you money and helping the environment. 

Using leftovers wisely

When we use leftovers intentionally, it’s a great starting place for the following day’s lunch or dinner and ensures waste is minimised. When you're planning meals, think about how you can use any extra ingredients in different ways. This can save you time and money.  

For example, if you cook more vegetables than you need for dinner tonight, you can use them to make soup or pasta later in the week. You can also use leftover roasts for sandwiches or make extra pasta and freeze it for later. This smart approach in the kitchen can make your cooking easier and help you in the long run. 

  • Super stir-fries: Slice up your leftover veggies and meat, stir-fry them with some fresh vegetables, and add soy sauce and your favourite spices. Serve with rice or noodles for a quick meal. Check out our Heart smart spring chicken stir-fry recipe.
  • Frittata fun: Mix your leftover veggies with eggs and cook it all in a frying pan. It's a versatile and tasty dish for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. Try out our deliciously healthy Vegetable frittata
  • Wrap it up: Put your leftover beans, rice, and meat in tortillas for a yummy burrito or wrap. Top with cheese, salsa, and guacamole for a Mexican treat. Here's our Chickpea salad wrap to help get you started.
  • Soup for all: Turn your leftover roast or veggies into a hearty soup. Cook them with stock, and add some legumes, herbs, and spices for a comforting bowl of soup. Here's our delicious Chicken and corn soup recipe.
  • Leftover chicken: You can use chicken in salad, wraps, stir-fries, soup, or even our coconut chicken slaw. Our Coconut chicken slaw can be prepared in under 30 minutes and makes for an easy stress-free meal. 
  • Lasagne: As well as frittatas, you could also use your leftover vegetables for roast vegetable dip, croquettes and lasagne. Here's the recipe for our Vegetarian lasagne.
  • Potatoes: There are so many options when it comes to potatoes – like potato salad, potato top pie, salmon and potato cakes and spiced potato filo parcels just to name a few. Here's an easy and delicious Potato salad recipe.
  • Get fruity: Use your leftover fruit for fruit crumble, stewed fruit, fruit sponge or bread and butter pudding. Try our summer-holiday Thyme roasted stone fruit recipe.
  • Roast meats: (Beef, Lamb, Pork) After a Sunday roast you may have extra meat to make a curry or pie the next day. Leftover roast meat is also great in wraps, pitas, salads, or mixed through a variety of pasta dishes. Alternatively certain Asian dishes are great with certain cuts of meat. Shepherd’s pie is an absolute must if you have leftover lamb after a meal, or you could try a mild lamb curry. Cottage pie is a tasty and easy option for leftover beef and a sweet and sour is perfect for leftover pork or ham.

Our Heart Foundation recipes are designed by nutrition experts to take the fuss out of healthy eating. From quick and easy to culinary delights, there’s something for everyone.


How long should we keep leftovers?

  • Put them into the fridge within 2 hours of cooking – Let your meal cool down on the benchtop before sealing or covering the food and placing it in the fridge. 
  • Eat within 2 days – Eat cold from the fridge or prepare meals in a clean and dry kitchen and serve piping hot to eliminate bacteria. 
  • If you know you won’t use leftovers in time – Date, label and freeze. 
  • Keep for up to 2 months in the freezer – Then defrost and use once. 

If in doubt, throw it out!

Don't see leftovers as a problem; see them as a chance to make something great and reduce food waste. Keep your pantry stocked and get creative in the kitchen to turn last night's dinner into today's favourite meal.  


  1. Love food hate waste. 10-top-tips-to-tackle-leftovers 
  2. The Heart Foundation. Heart Healthy Recipes & Dinner Ideas - Heart Foundation