Easy Recipes

Skip the Skip! 30+ Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

These vegan recipes for leftovers help you save money, resources – and tasty food!

By Lora O’Brien

We all want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, right? And that certainly involves wasting food less. But even the most eco conscious cooks often find themselves staring at a bowl of uneaten, soggy salad, wondering: ‘what on earth I do with that?’ And hard as we try to waste not want not, sometimes it seems there’s really no option but to feed the compost bin, or worse – the skip.

It’s not just those uneaten leftovers (especially at Thanksgiving or Christmas) that get binned. Some of us can be damn-right frivolous when it comes to throwing away spoiled produce. We see a bruised peach or a spotty banana, and turn up our noses and reach for our purses, off on a journey to  the grocery store to buy some fresher options. But what’s the biggie, huh? It’s just  food. And even if it’s not that pretty, it’s still edible – deliciously edible, at that!

Food waste is really a disgrace. Though unwanted food could easily be composted, an eye-watering 95% of the food that we throw away ends up in landfills. That mass of food then produces large quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, a more powerful gas than even carbon monoxide that has been linked to global warming.

According to the  Food Sustainability Index released at the end of last year, Greece leads the way in terms of minimum individual food waste with an average 44kg of food wasted per person each year. People in the United Kingdom waste an average of 74.7kg of food each year, which is less than South Korea (95kg) and France (106kg).

To tackle this issue, countries around the world are coming up with creative ways to deal with food waste, according to research conducted by kitchen specialists Magnet.

For example, apps are proving to helpful here. In the UK, Too Good To Go allows users to purchase surplus food from over 4,500 restaurants and cafes at a low price, and in Spain, the Yo No Desperdicio app (which means “I Don’t Waste”) allows its users to give away or trade unwanted food items with those living nearby.

In Greece, plans are in development to launch a smart food card in Heraklion. The initiative, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is a little bit creepy: it collects data from individual’s shopping trips and tells them when items in the fridge are about to expire.

If you’d prefer not to have the ERDF know what’s in your kitchen, no problem: there are plenty of other easier, low-tech ways you can reduce your food waste.

Planning & Preparing Pays Off

Planning meals is the key to wasting less food. We tend to typically go food shopping when we’re either hungry or in a rush, so we then choose foods on impulse, which can lead to waste later on when you’re thinking clearly. Instead, try these tips to help you waste less food:

  • Save a day to make a shopping list for the week ahead, ideally a Sunday. Plan all meals for the week ahead and make a shopping list so that you know exactly what you’ll need when you hit the stores.
  • Stick to the list. Only buy the foods you know you’ll need for the week and nothing more.
  • Have a snack before going shopping. Eating on a fuller stomach will make you think clearly, and you’ll be less likely to pick up  a snack.
  • Clean out your fridge and check your cupboards before you go shopping. Be sure you don’t have any cans lurking at the back that you could use, and be sure that all of your fresh produce has been eaten before buying more.
  • Shop local markets for fresh produce. It will have gone through less travelling and pollution to come to you. A quick Google search will tell you if there are any local farms that sell their goods to the public.
  • Have fresh foods that don’t look so bright? They can still be used and will make excellent juices or soups to keep you going all week. Also, vegetable scraps you’d usually bin can be turned into stock, so have a Google search to see what can be made before turning to the bin.
  • Know your stuff when it comes to sell-by, use-by, best-by and expiration. You’d be surprised  to learn those dates are pretty much arbitrary and mean nothing.
  • Be mindful when eating out. Those leftovers still end up on the scrap head so only fill your plate with food that you’re realistically going to eat at buffet type places, and when ordering meals request to take your leftovers home with you to eat the following day.

But if you do find your kitchen still full of leftovers at the end of the week, be it leftover produce or leftover food from a meal, there’s still some yummy ways to put them to good use to avoid throwing them.

Here, I’ve cast a net out into the world wide net and I’ve caught for you 30+ super vegan recipes for leftovers.

30+ Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

vegan leftover recipes

Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, above, here.

1. Greens & Kiwi Smoothie

Spinach may be super good for us, but it can start to wilt pretty quickly. The best way to use up excess spinach that’s starting to get a bit slimy is to throw it into a juice or smoothie. It will give you a boost of greens whilst almost holding no impact when it comes to taste. Pair it with some cucumber, bananas and kiwi fruits like in this smoothie recipe and you have a refreshing, healthy drink.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

2. Warm Quinoa Breakfast

What can you do with leftover quinoa? Basically: everything! Okay, well maybe not everything everything, but there’s a lot that can be made, such as these quinoa breakfast bowls. They’re the perfect grain to get your morning off to a fueling start, and it’s a breakfast that will power you through to mid-lunch time.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

3. Juice Pulp Fruit & Veggie Mini Muffins

These muffins are a little on the sweet side, a little on the savory side – so they will satiate both cravings. They’re crisp on the outside but soft on the inside, just how they should be! And yeah, I’m just throwing ideas about here, but these would be even better with some vegan butter smeared on top of them . . . Anyway, back to business. If you have carrots, kale and apples on hand, you can use those, of course. But if you’ve just made a juice, you can simply save the pulp and make these from that. Either way – they’re going to be marvelous!

Get the recipe here.

4. Vegan French Toast

Weird fact: the French love stale bread. They use it in French onion soup, as croutons, and of course, in le tost francais. Which is not, I’m pretty sure what they actually call it, but whatevs. Get your stale bread working for you by transforming it into this delicious breakfast, which is also one of the easiest vegan recipes for leftovers.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

5. Leftover Lentil Breakfast Flatbread

It’s easy to make more lentils than you need, so why not turn them into a breakfast flatbread? You can have it on the side or use it as a base for more recipes such as a tofu scramble, salad or hummus. One thing’s for sure: you’ll have more use for your leftover lentils other than the bin.

Get the recipe here.

6. Leftover Veggie Broth

You know those scraps you tip into the bin? Not anymore. Simply collect all kinds of veggie scraps from potato and carrot peel to leftover celery leaves and the skin of onions. Pop them into the freezer and wait until you have a few bag’s worth, and then use them to make wonderful, healing vegetable broth. Know your stuff beforehand though; vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are a no-no, as they’ll leave your broth with a bitter taste.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

7. Leftover Lettuce Soup

All wilted and a bit brown. How sad is a dressed salad the next day? Pretty unappetizing – unless it’s tossed into this delicious soup! The presence of added peas makes it a bit creamy. Yum!

Get the recipe here.

8. Almond Pulp Crackers

After you’ve made homemade almond milk, don’t wash the leftover pulp down the sink; turn it into these crackers instead. They’re packed full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and will provide you with tasty snacks for the next week or so. Use them as makeshift dippers in a soup or chili, or simply top them with some vegan cream cheese. Not bad for pulp, huh?

Get the recipe here.

9. Zero Waste Crisps

It’s so easy to make healthy crisps using vegetables. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beetroot, parsnips and kale make the best options when looking for a savory treat. They’re heaps healthier for you than packets of crisps you’d find at the supermarket, and they hold a helluva lot more flavour! You could even use different vegetables depending on what you have on hand, and even play around with the seasonings to suit your taste preferences. Simple, yet incredibly addictive!

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

10. Simple Mashed Potato Waffles

Potatoes are something that are leftover in abundance in our homes. Somehow we just seem to cook too many, am I right? But I’ll never look at them and feel sorrow again, not when I know I can turn them into these super simple mashed potato waffles. Crispy on the outside and then warm and fluffy on the inside, you can serve these as a side with some vegan sour cream or salsa, or simply dive in and eat them on their own. Either way there’ll be no leftover potatoes lining the bottom of your bin ever again.

Get the recipe here.

11. Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers

Fresh produce like cauliflower will typically start to go off after a few days in the fridge (especially if it’s organic), so you really want to optimise your veg use as as best as possible. And my favourite way to use up cauliflower? Cauliflower rice! Infuse it with some garlic and peppers and stuff them inside of some peppers for a quick and incredibly colourful dish. These could even serve as a main if you’d like. Just serve alongside a leafy green salad.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

12. Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls

Got some leftover quinoa? Why not make some fun little pizza pots? They’re a great way to use up any veggies you have lingering around such as mushrooms, peppers and onion. Plus you can even throw in some vegan mozzarella to make them all gooey. This is a great way to use up onions and tomatoes that are about to go off, too.

Get the recipe here.

13. Leftovers-Loaded Sweet Potatoes

So, maybe you wanted some tacos, but went overboard making the beans. Or maybe you bought some kale, had a salad, and have no idea about what to do with the rest. These kale and black bean sweet potato skins are the solution to all your problems! And if you’ve got some leftover avos waiting to be eaten, mush them up with some lemon, salt and garlic and add them for a quick and easy creamy dressing.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

14. Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato & Kale Soup

Soup is a really quick and easy way to take lots of veggies and turn them into a go-to soup recipe. The fabulous thing is you can pretty much throw in whatever you have on hand, even greens such as spinach and kale, and it will still taste yummy. Got lots of excess bread? Why not toast a few slices and make them into croutons?

Get the recipe here.

15. Leftover Irish Colcannon Cakes

We Irish know what to do with a spud! Even leftovers are made tasty by mashing them into these wonderful veggie packed, classic potato cakes. Again, you can also use up other leftover veggies like cabbage, onion and carrots, too.

Get the recipe here.

16. Quinoa Chili Recipe

When you’re eating a vegan plant-based diet you tend to end up with leftover bits of veggies and pulses. This is the perfect time to make vegan chili! Not only is it delicious, but it’s also such a great way to throw all those old vegetables into it, such as corn, peppers, tomatoes and even spinach if you really wanted. And your chili made from leftovers can then supply lunch for the next day or two. Bake up some sweet (or regular) potatoes and top them with the chili – easy peasy!

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

17. Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Sometimes life just calls for a bottle of wine. But usually when the morning after the night before arises we can no longer look at chugging the leftover wine in the fridge without feeling a little seasick. Don’t tip it down the sink; turn it into a delicious meal that will nourish you and leave you feeling satisfied! Leftover wine can easily go into this mushroom stroganoff recipe, and you can also use leftover noodles for this – let’s not get too persnickety about using only tagliatelle!

Get the recipe here.

18. Leftover Veggie Curry

Peas? Broccoli? Cauliflower? Potatoes? Peppers? It hardly matters! Whatever veggies you have left over or wilting in the fridge will be gorgeous in this quick curry. The key here is the spices. And the best part? Having leftovers of this! It tastes even better the next day.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

19. Sweet Potato Burgers

Got some leftover sweet potatoes? Or normal potatoes, squash or even beetroot? Then do I have a recipe for you! Any tuber will do for this easy burger. The beans add some protein and the avocado adds some creaminess, but if you have leftover guacamole, even better.

Get the recipe here.

20. Sprout & Tempeh Stir-Fry

Sometimes, it seems we just can’t force sprouts onto people’s plates, and during festive times such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’re often left with lots of the little green fellas left over. Many people claim to hate sprouts, but it may be because they haven’t tried them roasted or added into a stir-fry like this recipe. They become a little softer and tastier when they’re double-cooked!

Get the recipe here.

21. Easy Pizza Pasta Bake

Tortellini, linguini, spaghetti, or even just simple macaroni…whatever pasta you may have left over, it’s super easy to eat in a tasty meal the next day. Simply add whatever veggies you have on hand and some pizza-y spices, et voila!

Get the recipe here.

22. Grain, Lentil & Squash Mix

Anyone else find themselves stumped of ways to use leftover squash that doesn’t involve a soup? Same. Now you can turn those squashes into a fulfilling lunch or dinner recipe. You don’t even need lentils – just mix in whatever pulses and grains you have on hand – lentils, rice, quinoa, chickpeas, or rice, for example.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

23. Leftover Veggie ‘Fish Finger’ Sarnies

Thank you, Jamie Oliver, for this great recipe! It basically takes any old veggies you have leftover and makes them into ‘fingers’ – which are then added to a bun. But of course, if you want to lower that carb intake, these are also yum on a bed of lettuce.

Get the recipe here.

24. Leftover Rice & Bean Burrito

I had to include this recipe because, you know, Mexican food is life, and the ingredients of Mexican food make the perfect basis for vegan recipes for leftovers. These are especially tasty if the rice and/or beans that are from a previous meal have been seasoned and spiced – even nicer the second day.

Get the recipe here.

25. Last Night’s Long Pasta Stir Fry

You don’t need an official recipe for this – just take whatever long pasta you have left over – be it fettucini, tagliatelle, or spaghetti – just chop up some veggies, and throw some sesame oil in a pan. Add a crushed tooth of garlic and a knob of chopped ginger, throw in the noodles and veggies, and stir fry until the veggies are soft. Add a dash of soy sauce and top with a few nuts or sesame seeds, and you’re done!

26. Leftovers Pasta Salad

Yep, it’s another pasta dish – but it’s great, whether you’ve got leftover veggies, or leftover pasta, or both. And the thing I love most about this salad is that it can be served hot or cold – and lasts for days, too!

Get the recipe here.

27. Veggie Croquettes

No matter what leftover veggies you may have on hand, they’re going to taste great in this vegan croquette recipe! Why? Because everything tastes better battered and fried, my friends! This is an easy vegan leftovers recipe that everyone should have on hand.

Get the recipe here.

28. Chocolate Chip Oat Hazelnut Cookies

Got leftover apples or applesauce? Use them up with oats to make these cookies, and you’ll curb your sweet tooth all week long. Simply make them and store them in a lock tight container to keep them fresh. That is, if they manage to stick around that long!

Get the recipe here.

29. Vegan Bread & Butter Pudding

Don’t just save the stale bread for the birds and ducks. Make a traditional bread and butter pudding. It’s such a go-to comfort food for so many, so give it a go when you have some bread going stale. It’s wonderfully crisp on the top whilst gooey and soft on the inside, with the added nutritional boost of lots of  apricots and sultanas.

Get the recipe here.

30. Leftover Rice Pudding

Another comfort food for many, and definitely one of the easier vegan recipes for leftovers! This one, of course, subs in the usual cream or milk for coconut milk, which just gives it an even nicer, caramel kinda flavour, if you ask me.

Get the recipe here.

31. Vegan Banana Bread

When life gives you mushy, black bananas, make banana bread! This is probably one of the most common vegan recipes for leftovers, and the easiest. And that rooftop of crunchy pecans is pretty much the perfect addition, both in terms of texture and taste.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

Lora O'Brien

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