Woman spooning leftover meat into container

Love your leftovers

No matter how hard we try, sometimes we cannot avoid leftover ingredients or extra portions. With careful planning, leftovers can be a great way to save time, save money and eat well.

Learning how to use cooked leftovers and being prepared to eat what is left over is linked to reduced food waste at home. Many dishes can be prepared to provide more than one meal, for example, mince in spaghetti bolognese one night can be used for tacos the next night. It’s easy to cook once, eat twice! The clue to using up leftovers is planning how you will use them up before they spoil. Proper storage is extremely important to ensure the leftovers are OK to serve after a few days.

Writing a list of ingredients before your shop will make sure you have all the items you need for your first cook-up and following leftover meals. Leftovers can be lunch tomorrow, dinner next week, or a late-night snack. Slow food today can be fast food tomorrow!

Smart leftover tips

  1. Factor leftovers into your meal planning by making extra servings to eat throughout the week. Plan to serve it for lunch or dinner the next day.
  2. Put leftover portions in a container straight away and store them in the freezer for up to three months.
  3. Add a ‘leftovers' night to your weekly meal plan to use up all the ingredients in your fridge.
  4. Keep a pen and sticky labels to mark up leftovers when you freeze them, so you know exactly what they are when you’re choosing your leftover meal.
  5. Put your leftovers at the front of the fridge on a shelf that is roughly eye-level so you remember to eat them in time.
  6. See more tips in our Love Your Leftovers action card


Love your leftovers is Step 6 in our free six-step Food Smart online program. If you haven't already, sign up to Food Smart and learn how to love your food and reduce your waste.