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Weeknight Cooking

Put Leftover Ingredients to Work with These Recipes

Leftover ingredients belong on your plate, not in your trash.
By Published Mar. 27, 2020

Whether you're cooking for yourself or a family of five, it's likely that you'll end up with some leftover ingredients. Half a butternut squash, part of a can of beans, or those last few slices of bread—these odds and ends tend to languish in the kitchen until they have to be thrown away. Our solution? Quick, simple recipes that make it easy to put these ingredients to work. Here’s how to apply that philosophy to leftover bread, canned beans, coconut milk, and fresh basil.

1. How to Use Leftover Bread

A family of two would have to eat sandwiches for days to use up an entire loaf of bread or a whole baguette. Bread can be frozen for up to one month, or you can try our recipes for decadent mochaccino bread pudding, breakfast casserole, or easy garlicky croutons.

2. How to Use Leftover Canned Beans

Canned beans are particularly convenient when cooking for two (or more!) because they’re quick-cooking and don’t require lengthy soaking times. There’s no need to toss the leftovers when you use just part of a can; here are our favorite recipes for using the rest.

As a Latina, I'm always looking for tasty Mexican recipes. Even my picky mom would enjoy this delicious salad and that's not easy to do!
Claudia, a Cook’s Country web member’s review of Southwestern Black Bean Salad.

3. How to Use Leftover Coconut Milk

Rich coconut milk is worth putting to use when you’re left with part of a can. To make it easy, we came up with recipes for decadent rice pudding, toasted oatmeal, and grilled skirt steak.

4. How to Use Leftover Basil

There are few things more annoying than buying a bunch of herbs, only to be left with most of the bunch after preparing the intended recipe. Besides using our method on how to prep herbs for the freezer, here are some of our favorite recipes that’ll help use up your leftover basil.

If you’re looking for tips relating to preserve other leftover ingredients, view our article on 10 Leftover Ingredients You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze.