Day 19: Make a Plan for Your Leftovers

updated May 12, 2022
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Day 19: Thursday, March 27
Today’s Assignment: Inventory your leftovers and make a plan to use them
The Cooking Cure: See all assignments so far here

We’re nearing the end of the week — and the end of our 21 meal Cooking Cure challenge! — and that probably means that the leftovers have started piling up in your fridge. Today, we’ll take stock of that fridge situation and work on developing one more good meal-planning habit: dealing with the leftovers.

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

Today’s Assignment (Time Estimate: 10 to 15 Minutes)

  1. Take Inventory of Your Leftovers: By this point in both your week and our Cure, you probably have a lot of leftovers lingering in your fridge. That last square of breakfast polenta, a leftover carrot or two, a few more servings of stew — that kind of thing. Open your fridge and take stock of whatever bits and pieces you have leftovers, whether they’re left from meals you made during the week or whether they’re ingredients that didn’t get used.
  2. Make a Plan to Use Them: Now think through how how you’re going to use up those leftovers. This is one habit to add to all the other meal planning habits we’ve been building — if you make food at home, you will inevitably end up with leftovers. Taking a few minutes to think through using them leap-frogs into next week’s meal planning and helps you avoid discovering mold colonies on forgotten meals a month from now. Some ideas for using up leftovers are below.
  3. Tell Us About It! Need some help figuring out what to do with a leftover ingredient? Particularly proud of the frittata you made with the last of yesterday’s stir fry? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

3 Ideas for What To Do With Leftovers

  • Just Eat It: Sometimes you don’t have to actually do anything with your leftovers. Most meals keep just fine for 5 to 7 days in the fridge, so even if you have a few portions leftover after your week, they’ll still be good for another few days. Just factor them into next week’s meal plan and you’re good to go.
  • Freeze Individual Portions for Later Meals: When you’ve had the same casserole for dinner 4 nights running, eating that last piece seems like the most boring dinner in existence. But it won’t in a month when you’re starving and want a quick dinner! Freeze individual portions for easy reheating later.
  • Find a New Recipe: If you have lots of leftover ingredients, make yourself an inventory and then go find new recipes that use them. Some sites like or Supercook can help you match ingredients with new recipes.

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