We've all been there - you buy ingredients for a specific dish, but don't know what to do with the remainder so they sit around until they go bad. Or you make too much of a side dish and don't have anything left to pair with it so it gets thrown out. I've been guilty of this wastefulness, and I am trying to find ways to avoid it. So here are a few strategies that I have come up with.
Herbs: Fresh herbs go bad so quickly. You can freeze some of them, but I like to use them up by making herb rolls. Mix any herbs you have into your usual bread, biscuit, focaccia, or roll dough and bake as usual. You can also make a great salad by mixing fresh herbs into spring greens.
Mashed Potatoes: Mix herbs into leftover mashed potatoes (like chives, for example), form into patties, and pan-fry for tasty potato cakes.
Rice: Leftover rice gets hard in the refrigerator, and no one wants to eat that. To reheat, sprinkle with water and cover before microwaving so that it re-steams. Turn leftover rice into a meal by making fried rice - mix in some julienne veggies and egg and saute together in a pan.
I make a lot of coconut rice to go with Asian dishes. I like to eat the leftovers warm with sliced banana for breakfast. Or, I turn it into an Indian style rice pudding by simmering it in milk and adding brown sugar, saffron, and cardamom.
Produce: A stir-fry is a great way to use up extra veggies, or I like to do the standard "throw everything into a stew" solution. This month, I had leftover sweet potatoes and parsnips from a stuffed sweet potato dish I made, along with the usual languishing celery, carrots, and onion. I had a jar of Irish stew starter so I threw in all the veg and some short ribs and let the slow cooker handle it.
Meat: Of course, this could be used in the "everything stew" (like the photo above) or stir fry methods, but another great option is tacos. Slice up leftovers and serve them up in flour or corn tortillas. Add slaw, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and/or fresh veggies to liven them up.
The all encompassing strategy for dealing with leftovers is the casserole - mix up veggies, meat, rice, pasta, whatever and bake it up in a casserole dish. If you have mashed potatoes, spread them on top to create a nice shepard's pie style topping.
I hope these tips are helpful; I will post more as I think of them. In the meantime, eat well friends!