Giving leftover food a second chance to shine

Oh, I shudder to think of some of my old bad habits…

There was the crazy frosty blue eyeshadow…

…and the pager I used to carry… ­čść

…and don’t even get me started on the musicians I used to date!

Luckily, I’ve outgrown those, along with another nasty habit that I’m really not proud of:┬áwasting food.

There once was a time when I wouldn’t think twice about tossing leftovers or produce that probably wasn’t going to get used. A half a box of this, a half a bag of that – right into the trash. :(

But now that we’ve decided that buying whole, organic foods is right for our family, I just don’t take food as lightly as I used to. If I invest in a bag of organic apples, you can bet that I am going to use every last one. Now that I’m conscious about our food choices, food just seems so much less disposable.

Take this week, for instance. I roasted a chicken on the weekend, so I had a pretty good amount of leftover chicken to use up. My counter almost always hosts a few apples and onions waiting for a little love, not to mention the loaf of organic bread that I struggle to get through every time I buy it. Couple those ingredients with a busy worknight with no time to cook, and you’ve got the perfect storm for my favorite, super-simple┬áApple Chicken Salad recipe!

Just chop the chicken in the chopper or food processor, empty it into a bowl, then chop a large apple and 1/2 of a sweet onion, and mix them all together.

Add your favorite mayo or mayo substitute, and a little salt and pepper, then scoop!

I know. It’s not rocket science. But, this recipe is a winner with my husband, and I love knowing I made a whole meal out of things I didn’t waste (and it’s just as good the second time around!) Especially when I pair it with little cakes made from leftover mashed potatoes…

And, to top it all off, the finely chopped chicken and sweet apples make it totally toddler-friendly! Can you tell? :)

If you’re looking for a way to use up leftover spinach and those little bits of shredded cheese in the bottom of the bag, check out my Mommy and Me Spinach Mozzarella Bites recipe, too!


Cutting down on waste is going to be big for me in the new year. Tell me: do you try to limit the food you waste? What’s your favorite way to use up leftovers?



  1. says

    Ugh. I am SOOOO bad with leftovers. They scare me. I am terrified of food poisoning (had it a few too many times). I DO feel like I waste food too much…but I am pretty good at making just enough for the family or giving someone seconds.

    I love chicken salad with fruit! I’ve never heard of the potato cakes though, are those just baked mashed potatoes?

    • admin says

      I totally understand the food poisoning concern…I am on my husband about that constantly (he’d eat food that is weeeeks old if I’d let him!) I think you’re right that the key is not making too much to begin with!

      As for the potatoes, I just form them into patties, pat them in a tiny bit of flour, and fry lightly in just a touch of olive oil. You can bake them too, though, and they turn out fine! I find that organic potatoes turn pretty quickly, so I am always looking for ways to use them up!

  2. says

    I, like you, used to not even think twice about tossing just about anything. Not so much anymore. Not only are our finances SUPER TIGHT but we, on occasion, buy the more expensive (natural) foods – and like you – there ain’t no way I’m throwin’ that away! Greatly enjoyed this post! Blessings

  3. Laura Andry says

    I plan my weekly menu with leftovers as a meal a couple times a week. I make sure that when I cook something the first time around that I make enough for two whole meals, then two days later we eat the leftovers as Amal. This makes my life so much easier knowing that I won’t have to cook every single night. I love leftover night.

  4. says

    I’m big about not wasting food. Very little goes in our trash and I feel super guilty if something does get thrown away. I’m probably a little too crazy about NOT throwing things out! :) We have leftovers for lunch and I usually will plan a night of leftovers when I’m making my meal plan, too.

  5. says

    We are bad with leftovers too but I normally make a meal then take the leftovers to work the next day. After that, we don’t really feel like eating anything else. LOL I love this though, I think my husband would love it.

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