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How to use up leftovers

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Want to cut down on your food waste? Follow our clever recipe ideas and transform everyday leftovers into tempting new dishes.

Whether you've got a surplus of roast chicken after Sunday lunch, a bunch of overripe bananas or a pot of pesto lingering in the fridge, we've got plenty of ideas to reinvent your leftovers. From speedy soups and stir-fries to comforting puddings and cakes, these exciting new dishes are both cost-saving and will help reduce your food waste. As well as everyday recipe inspiration, we've also got ideas for seasonal leftovers such as Christmas turkey, Halloween pumpkins and Easter chocolate.

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Looking for more ways with leftovers? See our collections of leftover recipes and freezable family recipes, plus read our tips for how to reduce food waste.

How to use up leftover chicken

Buying good-quality poultry isn’t always cheap but with a bit of canny cooking, it can keep adding flavour and substance to meals for days after the Sunday roast. From hearty chicken soups to sandwich fillings and salads, we've got plenty of ideas to use up cooked chicken.

Check out more leftover chicken recipes and healthy leftover chicken recipes.

How to use up leftover bread

When you have a few slices of bread going stale, put them to good use in delicious bread and butter puddings, salads, toasties and more.

Use your loaf to make croutons, salads, puddings and more with our leftover bread recipes.

How to use up leftover lamb

Don't let lamb loiter at the back of the fridge. Discover delicious ideas for roast meat, from curries and kebabs to pasties and beyond.

Lamb curry on two plates with rice and flatbreads

Browse more of our leftover lamb recipes.

Top 10 ways to use up ripe bananas

Got some overripe bananas languishing in your fruit bowl? Put them to good use in banana bread, muffins, ice cream and smoothies.

Check out more ripe banana recipes.

Top 10 ways to use up celery

Faced with a large head of this plentiful vegetable? We've put together our top 10 ideas for using up your celery, including salads, soups and stews.

Top 10 ways to use up cream cheese

If that tub of cream cheese is about to turn, add the last few spoonfuls to one of our recipes. Try it in a cake frosting, pasta sauce or melty fondue.

Top 16 ways to use up egg whites and yolks

If a dish calls for separating eggs, don’t throw one half away. Yolks and whites can be used in a variety of recipes, from fluffy meringues to mayonnaise.

How to use up Sunday lunch leftovers

Make the most of your roast dinner leftovers. These sensational Sunday lunches come with easy recipe ideas for the day after, including roast chicken, pork, beef, salmon and even roasties!

Roast chicken with roast potatoes, radishes and salsa verde

Try more leftover beef and leftover pork recipes.

Top 10 ways to use up mashed potato

Defeated by an extra large helping of spuds? We’ve put together our favourite ways of using up leftover mash in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Find more ideas for leftover mashed potato recipes.

How to use up leftover yogurt

Wondering what to do with the remainders of your yogurt pot? Here are 10 ways to use up natural and Greek yogurt in a range of sweet and savoury dishes, from cake icing to scones and sauces.

Sliced cake with icing and almonds

Top 10 ways to use up pesto

Got a half jar of pesto lingering in the fridge? That trusty Italian green sauce can go a long way in everything from pizza toppings and dips to soups and stews.

The best leftover ham recipes

Turn your excess roast ham into a cheesy pasta bake, a golden pie or a chunky, gooey toastie. Don't let this festive favourite go to waste.

Get more ideas for using up gammon with our leftover ham recipes.

How to use up leftover anchovies

Love them or loathe them? This salty cured fish is a divisive ingredient often used sparingly – so how do you use up surplus fillets once you’ve cracked open a can? We have a few ideas to ensure nothing goes to waste.

25 ways to use up leftover ingredients

Novel ways of using up common leftover ingredients, from Parmesan rinds to salad leaves.

5 easy ways to make soup from leftovers

Give those random bits of veg, pulses and roast lurking in your kitchen a new lease of life with our simple soup recipe suggestions.

How to reheat leftovers

Leftovers are a great way to save money and lower your food waste in the kitchen – follow our guide and learn how to reheat safely.

How to use up leftover chocolate video

Go cocoa loco over our ideas for using up leftover chocolate. Whether you have a mass of mini eggs or other Easter treats, we've got plenty of ideas for adding them to rocky roads, cookies and more. Also see our ideas for using up Easter chocolate with kids.

Treat yourself to more leftover chocolate recipes and leftover Easter egg recipes.

Top 10 ways to use up leftover pumpkin

Discover our top 10 ways to use up surplus pumpkin after Halloween. Bake a delicious batch of scones, fry up some pancakes, create a filling curry or serve a warming bowl of soup.

Get more seasonal inspiration with our collection of leftover pumpkin recipes.

How to use up Christmas leftovers:

The Christmas period is associated with plenty of celebratory feasting and often a large amount of leftovers. Make the most of your festive fare in delicious family meals and decadent desserts.

20 ways with turkey leftovers

Whether you are celebrating Christmas with a big bird or enjoying it for Sunday lunch, there's bound to be leftovers. We share our favourite recipes for surplus roast turkey and offer some tips on storage.

More like this
Turkey fricasse in a bowl with pasta

Transform roast turkey into curries, stir-fries and more with our collection of leftover Christmas turkey recipes.

Family dinner ideas for Christmas leftovers

Make the most of Christmas leftovers by cooking easy family dinners to see you into the New Year. You'll save time and money on these midweek lifesavers.

We've got plenty more ideas for leftover Christmas recipes.

The best leftover Christmas dessert ideas

Even after Christmas and Boxing Day, there's always room for dessert! Discover our clever recipes for leftover cake, stollen, panettone and Christmas pudding.

Indulge in more leftover Christmas pudding recipes.

More leftover recipe inspiration:

Leftover rice recipes
Leftover cheese recipes
Burns Night leftover recipes
Leftover turkey and ham recipes

You may also like:

5 nights of waste-free family meals
Our best ever freezable recipes
How to reduce food packaging waste
Leftovers recipes: How to use up commonly wasted ingredients
How to freeze food
Freezable batch-cook recipes

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Cook Smart is a supportive campaign developed by BBC Good Food to bring together knowledge and ideas on how to help everyone eat well on a budget. Read more about Cook Smart with BBC Good Food.

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