Quick Meal Ideas Using Leftover Meat

There are lots of ways to use leftover meat, especially if you are creative and willing to explore other cuisines. And it doesn’t just have to be for dinner; it can be for breakfast, lunch and snacks as well.

Menu Planning for Your Meat

Meat and poultry will always be the most expensive items on your grocery list, so it is important to make the most of them. This is especially true if your family isn’t too keen on eating leftovers. Fortunately, a few simple additions can transform that sneered-at chicken into a veritable feast.

Homemade TV Dinner

The most obvious use of any meat you cook is to package up the leftovers into complete TV dinners with a small amount of protein, about 3 to 4 ounces for an adult, so you will always have tasty food on hand and won’t have to resort to junk food or takeaway.

The trick here is to plan ahead to make sure all the sides can be frozen. All starches and vegetables that have been cooked will hold up well, but you can’t freeze salads or most dairy very well because they are too watery.

Protein on Its Own

If you are roasting a chicken at home for Sunday dinner or buying a rotisserie chicken in the supermarket, make the most of it by carving it as close to the bone as possible and then freezing the meat into portions you can use for a range of recipes. Use 2 to 4 ounces of meat per person depending on how many children and adults you have to feed. Try to make the most of the dark meat, even if your family is not that fond of it. You can usually hide it in burritos, pot pies and so on.

When you are finished carving, put the carcass in a pot and boil up the bones for your own homemade chicken stock. Or, add apple cider vinegar and make your own bone broth. It will take 24 or so hours to cook.

Strain the meat out of the stock or broth and use it in soups, stews or pot pies.

Going Global

There are so many different cuisines to try; it can be a wonderful journey of exploration transforming your protein into something new and exciting. The most common cuisines are:

* American
* Italian
* Mexican
* French
* Mediterranean
* Asian: Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Korean

Chicken, roast beef and pork tenderloin are all pretty versatile, so will work well with a range of seasonings.


American food is hearty and full of flavor. Try «pulled» sandwiches, with the meat shredded and mixed with your own homemade barbecue sauce. Serve on a soft roll with some crunchy coleslaw. This is a great way to hide dark meat chicken and also tenderize cheaper cuts of meat.


Grind your pork tenderloin, add some fennel and an egg, and you have homemade sweet Italian sausage. Add red pepper flakes for spicy sausage.

Use ground meat or pork in your lasagna or a pasta bake.


Any protein will work well in tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Or, cut the meat into strips and grill it with onions and green peppers to make your own fajitas.


French cooking can seem very fancy, but the emphasis is on fresh ingredients. Use chicken for your own cordon bleu and beef in slow-cooked dishes like boeuf bourguignon.


Mediterranean also focuses on fresh ingredients. Add your protein to salads and eat with an array of vegetables and cheeses.


Asian food will take some time to master, but start with simple stir fries and noodle dishes. Try to find an Asian supermarket in your area and experiment with sauces such as black bean, hoisin, and char siu. Good brands to buy include Amoy and Lee Kum Kee.

Recommended For You

About the Author: andres