25 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 can 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. But not if you have an arsenal of vegan recipes for leftovers!

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 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. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Innovations In Eating

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 a 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 overbuy.
  • 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. Be sure that all of your fresh produce has been eaten before buying more.
  • 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.
  • 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 heap! So only fill your plate with food that you’re realistically going to eat at buffet type places. Don’t be afraid to ask for a doggie bag for anything you’ve not eaten.

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 below, I’ve found some super vegan recipes for leftovers.

Delicious Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

vegan leftover recipes
Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, above, here.

1. Warm Quinoa Porridge

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.

Best for: Leftover quinoa

Get the recipe here.

2. 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!

Best for: This is one of those vegan recipes for leftovers that can incorporate just about any leftover fruit or veg!

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

3. 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 to make. Tip: You can also use stale panettone or croissants for a fancier version of this recipe!

Best for: Stale bread

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

4. 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.

Best for: Leftover lentils

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

5. 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.

Best for: Again, this is one of those vegan recipes for leftovers that can use up any veggies you have on hand

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

6. 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!

Best for: Lettuce that’s looking limp.

Get the recipe here.

vegan lettuce soup

7. 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 for a soup or chili, or simply top them with some vegan cream cheese. Not bad for pulp, huh?

Best for: Using up the pulp after making almond milk.

Get the recipe here.

almond pulp crackers

8. Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls

Got some leftover quinoa? Not keen on using it up in the sweeter vegan leftover recipes, like the one in number 2, above? Why not make some fun little pizza pots? They’re also 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.

Best for: Using up any veggies about to go off

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

9. Leftovers-Loaded Sweet Potatoes

So, maybe you wanted some tacos, but went overboard making the beans. Or maybe you’ve got an avocado that’s getting a bit mushy looking. These sweet potato skins is the best of all the vegan leftovers recipes to solve those problems! The quick and easy creamy dressing here is made from avos. And you can use it for a few days, if you squeeze enough lemon in to preserve it.

Best for: Making use of an avo about to go brown

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

10. Leftovers Lentil Pot

Sure, soup is one of the most obvious vegan leftovers recipes. But it’s also one of the tastiest! The fabulous thing is you can pretty much throw in whatever you have on hand. Tomato, lentils and kale? Sure. But you can also add any other greens such as spinach, or veggies, such as carrots and potatoes, that you need to use up. Oh, and got lots of stale bread? Why not toast it up into croutons?

Best for: Making use of any veggies you’ve got on hand

Get the recipe here.

vegan leftover soup

11. 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, if you wish.

Best for: Leftover mashed potato

Get the recipe here.

12. 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!

Best for: Again, this is one of those vegan leftovers recipes that can take up multiple foods you’ve got in the fridge!

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

13. 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.

Best for: Well, this is yet another of the vegan leftovers recipes that can pretty much take on any veggies you want to use up. Love curry? See more vegan curry recipes here.

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Recipes For Leftovers

14. Sweet Potato Burgers

Got some leftover sweet potatoes? Or normal potatoes, squash or even beetroot? Then do I have a recipe for you! Any root veggie 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.

Best for: Using up cooked root veggies

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

15. Leftover Vegan Fritters

Just had a feast at home, and stuck with loads of roasted potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes or squash? Turn it into these gorgeous fritters! This is one of those vegan leftovers recipes that’s happy with pretty much any veg. Onions, turnips and carrots will also make it turn out great. Oh, and who needs eggs?! Not for this recipe!

Best for: Using up any cooked winter vegetables

Get the recipe here.

vegan fritters recipe

16. Easy Pizza Pasta Bake

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

Best for: Using up cooked pasta

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

17. Vegan Frittata

Before I went vegan, a frittata was my go-to way to use up leftovers. I’d throw anything from greens and rice to potatoes into a skillet, crack a few eggs over it, and voila! But now that I’m off eggs, it’s not that easy. This recipe makes the ‘eggy’ part from tofu, and adds squash, potato and zucchini to the mix. But frankly, any veggie combo will do!

Best for: Using up veggies

Get the recipe here.

vegan fritatta

18. 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 ‘fish 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.

Best for: Yet again, this is one of those vegan leftover recipes that can use just about any old leftover veggies!

Get the recipe here.

19. Last Night’s Veggies 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! This is also a great recipe for those on a budget.

But if you want a more elaborate leftover veggie stir fry, this recipe is delish! It involves a creamy coconut based sauce. Use whatever veg you have on hand!

Best for: Using up any veggies you need to get rid of

leftover veggie stir fry

20. Crispy Avocado Fries

It seems to me that avocados are either hard as a rock, or spoil overnight. If you’ve bought a bunch that you just can’t use because they’re not ripening, turn them into these tasty fries! And if you’ve got some that have turned too mushy to serve up in a sandwich, simply mash them up into guacamole, or put them on toast with some salt and pepper.

Best for: Using up avocados that don’t ripen.

Get the recipe here.

21. 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!

Best for: Using up cooked pasta, veggies or both.

Get the recipe here.

leftovers pasta salad

22. 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.

Best for: Using up stale bread, but frankly – using panettone for this is a whole, next-level experience!

Get the recipe here.

vegan bread and butter pudding

23. 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.

Best for: Using up those black bananas!

Get the recipe here.

vegan recipes for leftovers

24. Fruit Muffins

Got any kind of fruit that’s going off? Bruised berries? Don’t toss them out – toss them into this recipe, instead! Sure, it calls for blueberries, but any berry will do. Or even equal amounts of peaches, apples, plums, you name it!

Get the recipe here.

vegan blueberry muffins

Lora O'Brien
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