10 Meals for Almost Any Excess Ingredient

Now that you’ve been rescuing those leftover ingredients, you’re going to need to eat them at some point or all that effort is wasted! 

Smoothies, Soups, Stir-fries, Slaws, Curries, Tacos, ‘Pick your own toppings’ ramen, baked potato, and pizza are all great types of food to add whatever is in your fridge or freezer!

Julian with a smoothie
Smoothies are kid-approved

 I can’t think of many ingredients I couldn’t add to at least one of those things!  We make something from this list at least a few times a week. 1) because they’re all delicious and 2) because they help us use up everything in our fridge and freezer. I’ve made many-a-meal by tossing together small bits of random ingredients in my fridge or freezer.   


Carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, potatoes (one of the most wasted veggies), cauliflower that’s starting to brown, leftover proteins, leftover chickpeas, or frozen beans. One piece of chicken may not be enough for a meal on its own. A curry is a great way to stretch leftover protein.  


Baked Potatoes

A baked potato is merely a vector for toppings! Baked potatoes are a good way to use small amounts of lots of different ingredients. Add any of these things and more as toppings for a pretty filling meal: broccoli, cauliflower, shredded chicken, taco meat, shredded cheese. 

Emily and her sister when they were kids
Emily and her sister when they were kids – healthy and strong from “magic soup”

‘Magic Soup’

When I was a kid, my sister and I used to swear that Lipton Noodle soup in a box was the instant cure when we were sick. We called it magic soup.  I still believe in its power, but I now have a homemade version as well that is super quick to throw together if you have some of the ingredients in the freezer.

Sauté a  fresh or frozen mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion), fresh/frozen chopped bell peppers or sliced mushrooms. Add your frozen stock and let it boil (I just dump the whole chunk of frozen stock in the saucepan and leave the lid on – it will thaw in a few minutes).  Once it’s boiling, add a handful of pretty much any noodle (I like to use broken bits of spaghetti, but will use whatever I have), and some salt and pepper. Ten minutes later you have a brothy, homemade noodle soup full of flavor and nutrients.  I make this for my kids whenever they are homesick. And now my 9 & 10 year old boys know how to make it, too, so they can make magic soup for me and my husband if we’re sick!


Pasta sauce made from extra veggies
“A rescued mirepoix ready for the freezer!”

While not a meal on its own, a frozen mirepoix from rescued onion, carrot, and celery that you’ve made ahead is a great start to many meals. Pretty much any soup, stir-fry, or slow-cooked meal that I make starts with a rescued frozen mirepoix. On top of the traditional ingredients, when I have extra veggies that won’t be used up before they turn, I’ll chop ’em up and throw’ em in the freezer.  You can do each veggie separately to use as needed, or just a big bag of all 3 mixed together.  This combo adds a lot of flavor to dishes, and having them prepped in advance saves time when you want a homemade meal fast!

‘Pick your own toppings’ ramen

You can keep a “ramen bag of goodies” in your freezer. This quick and easy lunch is so much better when you add some fresh/frozen veggies. Celery, cabbage, julienne carrots, bell pepper, radish — if you have it, you should try it!


I like to think outside the pizza box. Not every pizza has to be a standard tomato sauce and cheese. I like to roast any leftover veggies and put them over a flatbread crust with a little garlic and olive oil. Add a few slices of fresh mozzarella and that’s-a-pizza! Pizza is a great way to use up leftover specialty cheeses. Stronger flavored cheese on pizza allows you to add just a little bit and still get a lot of flavor. 



We mix up a smoothie of some sort nearly every day in my house. I guarantee you probably have a narrow view of what a smoothie can be. You can throw literally any fruit, compressed and wilted spinach, zucchini, kale, and more. Freeze all of it ahead of time and pull it out when you need it. You can also package up the dregs of yogurt at the bottom of the container and freeze it for use in a future smoothie.

Stir fry
A healthy stir fry


Stir fry is a no-brainer for all kinds of veggies past their prime. Not only can you cook up any and all veggies, but you can also add a different sauce each time. The possibilities are endless!  


‘Slaw’ doesn’t have to be just your basic green cabbage and carrot coleslaw.  You can use lots of veggie or fruit ‘scraps’ to make various slaws. Don’t throw away those broccoli stems! Just cut the really woody part off the bottom, peel the tough parts, and use a mandoline to julienne the stem.  You can also cut them into matchsticks by hand, but it will take some time.  Combine with onion, carrot, cabbage, peppers, or all of the above!  Add a sweet creamy sauce, a tangy vinegary sauce (or some combo of the two) depending on your tastes.  You’ll have an easy side for burgers, grilled chicken, and a great topping for your food rescue tacos. 

Now about those TACOS! 

At least once a week we eat something taco-y.   Because they’re amazing.  And also because you can turn anything into a taco.  Have a piece of protein left from dinner? Heat it up, fry a corn tortilla, and make a quick slaw.