How to Repurpose Leftovers With Over 70 Meal Ideas!

Food, Shelf Cooking

We're all about the leftovers, but sometimes it gets old to reheat and eat them the same way. We reached out to our loyal followers, #FreebsNation, and learned all their favorite ways to repurpose leftovers so they're eating a new meal every time!

Stack of chicken and veggie tortilla wraps showing how to repurpose leftovers, from Fun Cheap or Free

Shelf cooking is a way of life around here, in case you haven't picked up on that! πŸ˜‰ We are all about taking it to the next level and we know that our shelf cooking Freebs Nation is, too. You basically rocked our socks when you chimed in on your favorite pantry staples over on this pantry staples post. What an amazing resource! We loved it so much that we asked you another question in our Shelf Cooking Community:

What is your favorite meal that leaves leftovers and how do you repurpose it to keep the family excited about dinner time!?

Leftovers can definitely be boring if you don't reheat them correctly or repurpose them by adding a little something new. But using up leftovers is a huge part of shelf cooking, so we want to see you continue rocking your new cooking style! It's all about those little habits to help you save money.

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Having some tried and true ways that Freebs repurpose leftovers is just what you may need to help you make shelf cooking a more permanent part of your meal planning! Are you ready to see what your fellow Freebs said? Let's get to it!


Before we get started, it's important that you understand why we asked this question, especially if you're new to shelf cooking. For one, it's all about using what you have on hand and supplementing with a few items you need from the store. It's also about not letting any food go to waste.

If you know that you're going to have leftovers, then you need to have a plan for those when you're doing your weekly meal plan

It's also very convenient to cook up a large batch of what you're making for dinner that night so you're able to meal prep and know your food has a purpose. You can either plan on having those extra leftovers throughout the week in different meals (that we'll get to in a minute!), or you can freeze them in appropriate portions to eat later. Now that you understand the why, let's get to the how of repurposing leftovers!


While you can use virtually anything to help you repurpose your leftovers, here's a short list of the most-used items you'll need!


Closeup of chicken quesadillas on a plate, from Fun Cheap or Free

Chicken is so versatile and can be used in almost any dish! Here are our Freebs' favorite ways to cook and repurpose chicken leftovers:

MEAL 1: Shredded Chicken
MEAL 2: Chicken Noodle Soup
MEAL 3: Chicken Pot Pie

MEAL 1: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
MEAL 2: Chicken Fajita Nachos
MEAL 3: Chicken Quesadillas

MEAL 1: Roasted Chicken
MEAL 2: Chicken and Dumplings
MEAL 3: Chicken Pasta Salad

MEAL 1: Homemade Chicken Tenders
MEAL 2: Chicken Tender Wrap
MEAL 3: Chicken Parmesan

MEAL 1: Chicken Tacos
MEAL 2: Chicken Nachos
MEAL 3: Chicken Tortilla Soup

MEAL 1: Grilled Chicken
MEAL 2: Homemade KFC Bowls
MEAL 3: Creamy Chicken Potato Soup

MEAL 1: BBQ Chicken
MEAL 2: BBQ Chicken Nachos
MEAL 3: BBQ Chicken Pizza

MEAL 1: Asian Chicken
MEAL 2: Chicken Stir Fry
MEAL 3: Chicken Fried Rice

MEAL 1: Crockpot Chicken and Gravy
MEAL 2: Pasta
MEAL 3: Chicken Spaghetti

MEAL 1: Garlic Butter Baked Chicken Breast
MEAL 2: Chicken Sub Sandwiches
MEAL 3: Chicken Stew

MEAL 1: Smothered Chicken Burritos
MEAL 2: Mexican Chicken Taquitos
MEAL 3: Chicken Taquito Salad

MEAL 1: Chicken Caesar Salad
MEAL 2: Chicken and Rice
MEAL 3: Chicken Tater Tot Casserole


Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans on a plate, from Fun Cheap or Free

Beef can be expensive, so it's a MUST to make sure you aren't wasteful with it! Here are some of the Freebs' favorite ways to repurpose their beef leftovers:

MEAL 1: Mississippi Pot Roast
MEAL 2: Pot Roast Subs
MEAL 3: Pot Roast Stew

MEAL 1: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
MEAL 2: Meatloaf Sandwiches
MEAL 3: Shepherd's Pie

MEAL 1: Beef Roast French Dip
MEAL 2: Chipotle Beef Taquitos
MEAL 3: BBQ Beef Sliders

MEAL 1: Brisket
MEAL 2: Brisket Nachos
MEAL 3: Brisket Tacos

MEAL 1: Beef Pot Roast
MEAL 2: Beef Tostadas
MEAL 3: Roast-Stuffed Shells

MEAL 1: Chili
MEAL 2: Chili Cheese Dogs
MEAL 3: Chili Nachos

MEAL 1: Cheesy Meatloaf
MEAL 2: Cheeseburger
MEAL 3: Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

MEAL 1: Tacos
MEAL 2: Taco Salad
MEAL 3: Taco Soup


Pulled pork on a bun drizzled with barbecue sauce in a basket showing you how to repurpose leftovers, from Fun Cheap or Free

Pork is another meat that is so easy to use in different ways. Here are the Freebs' favorite ways to repurpose pork leftovers:

MEAL 1: Pulled Pork
MEAL 2: Pulled Pork Nachos
MEAL 3: Pulled Pork Baked Potatoes

MEAL 1: Pork Roast
MEAL 2: Pork Fajitas
MEAL 3: Pork Taquitos

MEAL 1: Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Rice Bowl
MEAL 2: Pork Burrito
MEAL 3: Pork Wraps

MEAL 1: Pork Chops
MEAL 2: Cheesy Pork and Rice
MEAL 3: Pork Fried Rice

MEAL 1: Pork Tenderloin
MEAL 2: Pork Lo Mein
MEAL 3: Pork Stroganoff

MEAL 1: Herb-Roasted Pork
MEAL 2: Pork Tamales
MEAL 3: Pork Carnitas


Sliced chicken over pasta on a plate, from Fun Cheap or Free

Give us all the carbs! Pasta is so good, but it can definitely get old when you're on day 3 of eating it. Check out what our Freebs do to repurpose their pasta leftovers:

MEAL 1: Pasta with Meatballs in a Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
MEAL 2: Meatball Subs
MEAL 3: Meatball Pizza

MEAL 1: Bolognese
MEAL 2: Lasagna Roll Ups
MEAL 3: Sloppy Giuseppe

MEAL 1: Spaghetti
MEAL 2: Chicken Parmesan
MEAL 3: Pizza Casserole

MEAL 1: Fettuccini Alfredo
MEAL 2: Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake
MEAL 3: Chicken Alfredo Soup

MEAL 1: Macaroni and Cheese
MEAL 2: French Onion Soup Mac and Cheese
MEAL 3: Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls


Soup with carrots and ham on top in a bowl with bread and a spoon, from Fun Cheap or Free

Sometimes you have some random things leftover from your meal that you need to repurpose. Here are just a few ideas from Freebs to really get your mind spinning:

MEAL 1: Breakfast Sausage
MEAL 2: Breakfast Flatbread
MEAL 3: Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

MEAL 1: Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Ham
MEAL 2: Ham Breakfast Casserole
MEAL 3: Split Pea Soup

MEAL 1: Pinto Bean Meal
MEAL 2: Chili
MEAL 3: Tacos

MEAL 1: Scrambled Eggs
MEAL 2: Breakfast Burritos
MEAL 3: Fried Rice

MEAL 1: Roasted Turkey
MEAL 2: Turkey Tetrazzini
MEAL 3: Creamy Turkey Soup

MEAL 1: Blackened Tilapia
MEAL 2: Fish Tacos
MEAL 3: Potato Fish Cakes

Alright, well there you have it! Our Freebs' favorite ways to plan to repurpose leftovers.

Now when you go to meal plan, you can make sure you make enough for meal one so you'll be able to mix things up and create at least one or two more meals for your week! πŸ™‚ How awesome is that!? Decrease your cooking time in the kitchen and make meal planning a little easier.

What are you favorite ways to repurpose your leftovers? Let us know in the comments below!

Image with text that reads "awesome ideas to repurpose your leftovers" from Fun Cheap or Free

Make sure you check out to get even more great ideas and tips! 

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That sounds like every parent's dream, right?!

Want more great ideas to repurpose your leftovers? Make sure you check out these posts!

Enjoy those leftovers!


  1. Ruth Steiner

    As a family we are of the opinion that those that say they don’t like leftovers have never had them/used them properly. You don’t serve the same meal again and again until gone. If you want to do that, wait a day in between it will keep fine if its been stored properly.
    Be creative when it comes to using leftovers. That leftover baked chicken? Make enchiladas, soup, etc. from it.
    Esp, if someone in your household “doesn’t like” leftovers, disguise it.
    We have a dish called refrigerator soup.–Simply using the leftovers in the fridge and throwing it in a pot. Somehow it always comes out good.

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Yes!!! People who don’t like leftovers just don’t know how to reheat them or repurpose them the right way. So glad we’re on the same page! πŸ˜‰

  2. M

    Hi Jordan,

    Thank you for all the resources available.

    I didn’t have much trouble to repurpose leftovers before–but with dairy, gluten, egg and nut intolerances, it has become very difficult. Is there something to help?


    • Fun Cheap or Free

      You could still use the same ideas, but use dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free and nut-free alternatives. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

    • Anne

      From someone with the same restrictions, I make gluten-free quesadillas with my leftover meats. I add corn, baked sweet potato, and black beans. Wrap well with plastic wrap, freeze and then crisp in a pan for quick snacks and meals. It’s a lifesaver. Could also add rice or quinoa, spinach,etc. to bulk it up. Serve with avocado or salsa. Very filling.

      And for other leftovers I batch-prepare smoothie packs that I can throw into the blender with unsweet hemp milk and ice. I usually make them with cocoa powder and add Enjoy Life chocolate chips, so it is YUM. Hope this is helpful! Best wishes!


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