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Smart Ways to Use Up Leftover Food

Feeling guilty with the leftover container staring at you? Try these ideas to use up every last bit.Whip up any leftover heavy cream into fresh whipped cream to dollop on dessert or fruit. If savory is more your speed, a little goes a long way for making a next-level soup, scrambled eggs, or sauce.

Buttermilk

Once you’re done making your pancakes or baked goods, don’t let that extra buttermilk go sour. Whip it into homemade ranch dressing that tastes way better than the bottled stuff, like this version from Five Heart Home. With a big salad on its way, you can feel good about whatever baked goods you bought the buttermilk for in the first place.

Sour cream

All you needed was a dollop of sour cream for taco Tuesday, and now you’re stuck with a big ol’ container of it. Instead of just using a little here and there well past expiration, whip up a batch of Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes from Cooking Classy. Like the classic buttermilk, sour cream makes your breakfast favorite even fluffier. You can also head straight to dessert with this Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Crumb Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Tomato paste

Sure, you could freeze that leftover tomato paste, but then you’re just moving your problem from the fridge to the freezer. (Check out these other surprising foods you can freeze.) Get it gone by stirring it into a soup, stew, or chili. Try this tomato soup recipe from Alexandra Cooks, which uses ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Stock

Cooking rice in leftover stock instead of plain old water will give your grains a major boost of flavor. With just a cup of stock, you can also transform basic fingerling potatoes into these braised beauties from A Beautiful Plate.

Broth

Because broth has seasonings that stock doesn’t, you could just toss in a few veggies or beans to make an easy, homemade soup. At breakfast, cook oatmeal in broth instead of water or milk for a savory take that you can top with an egg and veggies. If you’d rather stick with dinner options, try this Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Curry from Pinch of Yum. Keep it vegetarian with vegetable broth, or feel free to use chicken broth instead.

Rice

Don’t resign yourself to eating white rice with every dinner just because you made too much for last night’s meal. Transform them into simple, tasty Parmesan Rice Cakes from An Oregon Cottage. (Bonus: This recipe is great for using up leftover breadcrumbs too.) Or for a sweet take, use it in rice pudding, like this one from Tastes Better from Scratch.

Sweetened condensed milk

sweetened condensed milk can transform a dessert chewy, sweet, and just plain delicious. But if you’ve already got one cake or tray of bars on hand, you probably aren’t rushing to make more sweet stuff (though no judgment if you are). Instead, drizzle a little sweetened condensed milk over fruit for an instant dessert, or stir it into a coffee drink even your barista would be proud of. Try this recipe for My Ultimate Iced Coffee from Simply Delicious, and don’t miss this genius hack for the best iced coffee.

Pumpkin puree

If you think pumpkin only belongs in pie and lattes, think again. Pumpkin pumps up breakfast with filling fiber in Damn Delicious’ recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal. You could also add fall flavors to your favorite comfort food with this recipe for Pumpkin Mac and Cheese.

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