I probably eat more leftovers than freshly prepared meals in any given week. Call me boring, call me a creature of habit, call me lazy, but at least it’s fast.

I do realize, however, that not everyone is as satisfied as I am with having exactly the same thing for dinner three nights in a row. Still, who has time for a completely new dinner every evening?

That’s why it can be helpful — and fun! — to repurpose your leftovers in different ways. (If you are all about this way of life, be sure you sign up for Voraciously’s new Meal Plan of Action newsletter.) Here are five ideas from our archives to get you started:

Sloppy Joes With Hoisin and Ginger. This take on the lunchroom staple from chef, restaurateur and TV host Ming Tsai is sweet and spicy. Eat the meat mixture on rolls the first night and then, on subsequent evenings, atop grains or even in a burrito.


Tacos With Spicy, Smoky Lentils. Make a double batch of the lentils, so you can enjoy them first in tacos. They would also be great over brown rice or next to a plate of scrambled eggs. Combined with broth and some sauteed aromatics (onions, garlic), the lentils could even serve as the backbone of a soup, either completely or partially pureed (bonus points if you use an immersion blender).


30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs. Scale up the meatballs and tomato sauce, or use only half of them with half of the pasta, so you can feast on messy but delicious meatball subs.


Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. Tuck extras into tortillas with cheese to create quesadillas, served with salsa, guacamole and sour cream, of course. Or pile it on rice or greens for a hearty lunch bowl.


Skewered Southwest Steak. You’ll be tempted to double the recipe just so you can use the surplus to make out-of-this world nachos. Quesadillas and tacos would be natural fits, too.

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