5 Ways to Turn Last Night’s Leftovers Into This Morning’s Breakfast

Amy Machnak
by Amy Machnak
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5 Ways to Turn Last Night’s Leftovers Into This Morning’s Breakfast

We’ve all had that feeling of disappointment — and guilt — when we’ve thrown away uneaten leftovers. It’s the worst knowing you spent money on the groceries, not to mention time shopping and cooking. When you add it all up, it’s a lot. Research has shown the average American family wastes 25% of its food, which can add up to as much as $2,200 annually.

Next time you’re standing in front of the open refrigerator wondering how to repurpose last night’s takeout to feed a family of four. Or, what you can do with the last of the roasted vegetables? Get creative. With a little ingenuity and cooking know-how, many common leftovers can be transformed into a spectacular second act.


You’d be surprised how frying an egg (or poaching, if you’re feeling fancy) can transform a so-so meal. Got some old hash browns, leftover Chinese food or even some cold minestrone sitting around? Putting a egg on top can be all that’s needed to reinvent it, plus you’ll add a boost of protein and nutrients in a matter of minutes.


A number 1 go-to item for me on Saturday mornings, when most of the groceries are gone, leftover rice can easily be jazzed up with leftover vegetables, rotisserie chicken and a splash of soy sauce. Chop it up, toss it into a wok with a scrambled egg and some hot sauce, and voila: easy weekend brunch!



Have you ever really looked at the stuff inside an omelet? It’s a bunch of chopped up vegetables and meat with melted cheese — that’s it. Why start with fresh ingredients, when your leftovers can be just as good, not to mention faster since the prep work is done? Add a sprinkle of cheese and some sliced fresh fruit on the side, and you’ve brought the diner to you, only healthier.


Tortillas don’t always have to be filled with chicken or beef. Thanks to the introduction of fusion food, we’re now more apt to put untraditional things into a taco. Try adding sliced hard-boiled eggs or scrambled eggs with that leftover chicken fajita and a squeeze of lime. It really doesn’t matter what you’re putting in it, the taco shell is just a vehicle for the good stuff anyways.


Meatloaf, roast turkey and stuffing and saucy meatball dinners come to life again when you put them between two slices of bread. Try your own version of a leftover sandwich with the addition of an egg and see what you come up with for the morning meal. Leftover salmon scramble or chicken sliced on a bagel with smashed avocado is balanced, nutritious and sure to keep your metabolism humming until lunch.

Got any favorite leftovers that you love to eat for breakfast? Comment below!

About the Author

Amy Machnak
Amy Machnak

Amy is a James Beard award-winning food writer. A former staff writer at Sunset magazine, her work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chow.com, Cooking Light, Tasting Table, Munchery.com and more. She’s contributed to seven cookbooks with Sunset and William’s Sonoma, and written one of her own. When she’s not writing or cooking, you can find her in a sweaty yoga class, drinking wine she can’t afford or on social media mentally correcting people’s punctuation.


2 responses to “5 Ways to Turn Last Night’s Leftovers Into This Morning’s Breakfast”

  1. Avatar Ccmc says:

    Hash. We always bake an extra potato or sweet potato or two at night with dinner when we have them. Refrigerate. In the morning we make hash browns with the leftover potato and whatever else is in the refrigerator (veggies, meats) and a fried egg on top. We have had some interesting breakfasts this way…but it’s a hash!

  2. Avatar Britt Doyle says:

    Any pasta from the night before is made even better the next day with a fried egg.

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