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Friday Tip|Repurpose Your Leftovers!

One of the keys to eating cheaply (and well) is eating everything you buy.  This inevitably means leftovers and leftovers can lead to food boredom, which is perilous for anyone trying to be careful with their food budget.

There are many compelling reasons for not wasting food, but our number one reason around here is that we are…chea…er…thrifty.  Not throwing out uneaten food saves on both food budget and, if you’re unfortunate enough to have to pay for your garbage pickup, waste bills as well.  But eating the same thing for days in a row gets really tedious, even if you are making things that are delicious.  How to combat the evils of food boredom?  By reusing your leftovers to create something new!

The nachos above are made entirely from the leftovers of fish tacos that we had a couple of days before.  The “couple of days before” is key here; even a master illusionist in the kitchen has a tough time completely disguising an already eaten dish, so giving yourself a day in between eating the original meal and eating the “repurposed” one is key, at least in my book, to beating repetitive food fatigue.

Doing this kind of thing is pretty easy, but it takes a bit of planning; in this case, when we had our fish tacos, I intentionally made a few extra tortillas* so we could make chips:

Tortillas cut into fourths, ready to fry

The two-day-old tortillas (which are quite nasty, actually) are then put into about an inch of oil, heated to about 375 F, in a medium sauce pan:

And fried for a few minutes on each side.  They do need to be turned, and this particular pan can only hold about 5 chips at a time.  Be careful not to overbrown them – they are better on the golden, rather than deep brown side.

That chip in the middle is a little overdone

Once the chips were done, I laid them out on a nonstick cookie sheet, covered them with the leftover breaded fish from the tacos, used the sauce from the tacos, and then covered them with cheddar cheese.  A 15 minute turn in the oven at about 350, and they were hot and ready to eat.  I added fresh tomatoes and avocado (also leftover from the tacos) right after taking them out of the oven.

Very yummy.  But more importantly, we didn’t throw out a lot of good fish or get stuck with taco sauce sitting in the fridge for two weeks before it got thrown out.  We also could have (and have in the past) added leftover chicken or beef or any other number of things that might have been in the fridge.  Some finely chopped onion would have been nice as well – and green onion that is about to go off is great in these kinds of things.

One of the greatest things about really learning how to cook is being able to stick your nose in the refrigerator and make something out of whatever you have on hand.  Be bold and don’t worry about experimenting, especially with leftovers.  The worst that can happen is that it will be awful and you’ll have to throw it out – which – and be honest – you were thinking about doing anyway, right?

Hope that’s helpful!


*Homemade tortillas are amazing and I highly recommend that you make them.  They are very easy, and while it takes a bit of work, it’s not difficult (and nothing a glass of wine won’t help you through).  The end result is worth every ounce of effort you put in.  You’ll never eat those crappy store bought things, willingly, again.


  1. Norman says:

    Great post !!!

  2. Kathlyn says:

    Thanks Norman!

  3. David says:

    You should post your tortilla recipe. I have a recipe that I use, and they taste really good, but they’re very doughy and not very tortilla-like. Almost more like naan than tortillas.
    David´s last blog post ..D- Eat Airplane Food

  4. Kathlyn says:

    I will post it the next time we make tacos – or if I need a snack! Maybe yours are too thick? Or the heat isn’t high enough?

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