It’s that time of year again when there are gifts everywhere and lots of good food to share. But after all that fabulous cooking, mums need to overcome yet another hurdle: holiday leftovers. No worries! I’ve got a few ideas on how to repurpose Christmas leftovers, so you can save time and money plus reduce food waste.
Did you know that each year, about 7.3 million tonnes of food go to waste in Australia? It’s a saddening and alarming fact, and the solution should start right in our homes. So, let’s not stop at putting all our extras in containers and storing them in the fridge. We should also have a plan how we can repurpose Christmas leftovers into tasty next-day meals! It will be a nice little gift for our budget and the environment, too.
These smart ways should help you conquer your leftovers and bring out the food waste warrior in you!
- Make ham kebabs. Slice your leftover Christmas ham in cubes then thread them through skewers. Insert diced pineapple, peppers and onions in between then get them deliciously charred over the grill!
- Add it to soups. Throw dices of ham to your potato chowder to make it extra tasty. Use the leftover ham bone to make a stock for your pea and ham soup, too.
- Mix it in baked goods. Bits of ham in your scones or biscuits, muffins, pizza and quiche only mean one thing: delicious!
- Use it for jaffles. No one can resist warm toasties with ham and melted cheese. The best part is, you can serve them at any time of the day.
Roast Turkey or Chicken
- Whip up a casserole. Pasta or rice, cream, vegetables and shredded leftover poultry go so well together. This one-pan meal also makes clean-up a breeze!
- Use it as pie filling. For this repurposed dish, you can use the same casserole combo minus the pasta or rice. Grab a frozen pie dough instead (or make one from scratch) then bake! You can bake hand pies or turnovers, too.
- Add it in sandwiches. We all love this classic, and it’s super easy to customise, too. With the right sandwich add-ons, you can go as hearty or healthy as you want. Turkey or chicken salad with croissant sounds delicious as well.
- Make enchilada cups. Put some tortillas in a muffin pan (I use a cookie cutter to cut them into smaller discs). Fill each cup with shredded chicken, beans, corn kernels and lots of cheese, then bake.
- Make Philly cheesesteak. Caramelised onions, provolone and leftover steak in crisp buns are 100% mouth-watering. You can use smaller rolls to make sliders, too. Either way, they’ll be gone in seconds!
- Use it for fajitas. Instead of bread, you can use flour tortillas to enjoy your cheesesteak. I, however, prefer to add cooked peppers for colour and crunch. Taco shells are another option!
- Add it to egg noodles. Cook some noodles then whip up a quick beef stroganoff with mushrooms for topping. It’s an easy dinner recipe to rescue you on a busy weeknight.
- Throw it in stir-fries. Recreate the all-time-favourite Chinese beef and broccoli dish at home. With a hot wok and your steak already cooked, your stir-fry will be ready in no time.
- Add them to fried rice. Cook your leftover rice in oil and garlic, stir in vegetables and egg then add the cooked shrimps last. It’s a complete meal all in one heaping bowl!
- Use it for paella. Here’s another rice dish alternative for your grilled shrimps that’s extra festive. It’s a one-pan meal, too, and perfect for sharing.
- Wrap them in rice paper. I love making Vietnamese spring rolls. They look so beautiful on the plate. But what I enjoy the most is having crisp vegetables, soft glass noodles and tasty shrimp in one bite.
- Stir them in pasta. A quick shrimp scampi with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes is divine. I especially like how lemon juice and zest in this classic recipe make everything taste light and summery.
- Cook them with eggs. Add leftover vegetables to your breakfast omelette or frittata for a healthy but filling morning meal.
- Toss them in salads. Crisp lettuce or spinach and roasted vegetables make a great combination, especially when mixed in oil and balsamic vinegar. For good measure, throw in diced avocados and some cherry tomatoes to the mix.
- Add them in pasta bakes. It’s a great way to sneak in some vegetables to you little picky eater’s meal!
- Use them as pizza toppings. No pepperoni? No problem! Use your leftover vegetables instead. They are richer in nutrients and fibre. And anything will taste delicious with cheese anyway!
- Christmas pudding. Crumble it up then add to your vanilla ice cream mixture near the end of the churning process. You can use crumbled pudding for baked strudels, too, in place of mincemeat. When sliced and fried, leftover pudding is also a great add-on to a full English breakfast.
- Gingerbread house. Blitz leftover gingerbread in a food processor, mix it with enough melted butter then use it as a cheesecake base. You can also chop it in small pieces then use these for ice cream or chocolate bark making.
- Cakes and brownies. Freeze and serve them a la mode, process them into crumbs to make cake pops, or dice them up to make a trifle.
- Pavlova. Make Eton mess! Serve your repurposed dessert in small glass jars to display its lovely layers.
There are tons of ways to repurpose Christmas leftovers. But making meals just enough for everyone is a much better solution to reduce food waste. So, before going on a holiday cooking spree, make sure to plan your menu, set a budget and shop smart. Also, check out this article for some useful tips to repurpose your food scraps!