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Leftover hacks: What to do with leftovers

So you had a party! … Yay! 

And ate food! … Yay! 

And there are leftovers! … Yay! … Wait … is it a yay?!

It is a YAY! A chance to get creative and to turn something into something even better! These are my “rules of thumb” when faced with leftovers.  

PLEASE note that these are not hard and fast rules, just suggestions and you have to go with your gut on some things.  

First rule of leftovers is to know what is NOT a leftover and should be binned straight away! 

  • Uncooked meats and seafood; if it smells off (this is a sour decay smell) throw it out straight away. Do not try to save them. That ship has sailed. 
  • Any cooked food that has been left out of refrigeration for more than two hours 
  • Any cooked chicken that is more than three days old 
  • Any uncooked food (think meats, fish, seafood) that have been out of refrigeration/off ice for more than an hour 

So you have sorted through your leftovers and thrown away everything that is immediately unsavable … what next? 


I adore cheese! What party is complete with out at least one cheese platter. Those scrawny nibbled leftovers should not go to waste. 

The most versatile use from the is to put them into a white sauce for added cheese kick.

Here is a basic recipe from Taste.

Cooked vegetables and meat 

One word … fritters.

Fritters are basically a savoury pancake. You can add any cooked vegetable or cooked meat to them you like! They are great dinner options to serve with that leftover salad. Just dice those leftovers up into 1 cm cubes and add them to a basic Fritter recipe.

Baked goodies 

When you have eaten your weight in birthday cake or the cupcakes have started to go stale. Never fear you can turn it into something delicious still! You just need to make Trifle! 

They always say use fresh cake or swiss rolls or gingerbread biscuits but honestly, by the time you have poured your jelly, custard, sherry, tinned fruit, fresh fruit and whatever else on it … NO ONE and I mean, NO ONE will know you have used leftover cake. 

For inspiration, here is a basic recipe to follow (just substitute the swiss rolls or your cake!).

Excessive leftovers 

Why don’t you donate what your family cannot possibly eat within the next three days? 

There are many hungry people out there. If you have a crazy amount of leftovers, you will find that community groups might take some of it off your hands. With food safety legislation and the rise of risk aversion being what it is, it is best to stick with local groups that you are already involved in. These will get you thinking: 

  • Does your work have a tea break? 
  • Could you take it to a church service morning tea? 
  • Are you involved with a sports group? 
  • Or a kids after school program? 

Finally, what community programs around you look after the homeless or disadvantaged? 

We partner with Rosies for our leftovers! They come collect and use it for good! You can call them on  07 3396 4267 or check out their website.

Monkey Business Catering local, family-run business catering Toowoomba and the surrounds. We specialise in drop and run catering, wholesome country cooking and dietary requirements.

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