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24 Ways To Stretch Leftover Vegetables, Fruits, And Other Perishables

These are kinda brilliant.

1. Turn two overripe bananas into a half-dozen muffins.


Flour is tough to find in some places right now, but if you have it, these small-batch banana muffins are as easy as it gets. (Another great option? This banana-toffee cake.)

2. Or peel bananas, freeze them, and make healthy soft-serve.

Stick with basic banana soft-serve — or add any favorite mix-ins like peanut butter, chocolate, or frozen berries.

3. Cook wrinkly tomatoes down into 10-minute pasta sauce.

Keep it simple (tomatoes, olive oil, salt) or add extras (garlic, herbs, Parm) if you have them.

Recipe: Pasta Sauce Made from Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

4. Oven-roast leftover garlic then slather it on toast or baguettes.

Roast partial heads or even stray cloves, depending on what you have left. (If you go for the former, plant them in a muffin tin so they stay upright in the oven.)

5. Turn dry-ish limes into ready-made margarita starters.

Because you never know when the craving will strike. (When it does, just add tequila and sweetener — and you're good to go!)

6. Wrap overripe fruit in pre-made pastry dough for the world's easiest dessert.

If you're feeling fancy, brush the dough with egg wash to make it bake up extra golden-brown.

7. Puree past-their-prime greens (like spinach or kale) then freeze them into smoothie boosters.


Totally fine if they're a little wilted or droopy — you won't be able to tell once everything gets pureed.

8. Boost any fresh or frozen veggies with this all-purpose 3-ingredient sauce.

Easiest-ever stirfry! A little salty, a little sweet, a little sour.

9. Freeze about-to-wilt herbs in olive oil, then use them as ready-made recipe starters.

Drop them into dishes that call for oil as the first step — like stews, soups, or roasts.

10. Or toss herbs into a food processor with olive oil + cheese to make pesto.

Basil is the classic here, but you could also try parsley, cilantro, or even kale or spinach. Then drizzle pesto over pasta or meat, or swirl it into omelets.

11. Pile this-and-that veggie scraps into quick fritters.

Eggs + flour bind the mixture, so this works with any chopped veg: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, peppers, corn, etc. Then pair the fritters with a creamy dip!

12. Or throw leftover veggies into a clear-the-fridge frittata.

Can't go wrong as long as you've got eggs + milk to bring everything together. Here's a frittata that uses up zucchini, tomatoes, and frozen corn.

13. Or if you've got more odds and ends than actual vegetables, make broth.

Great things to toss in veggie broth: celery ends, carrot peelings, herb stems, Parmesan rinds, etc.

14. Cook down mushy berries into stovetop jam.

All you need is berries + lemon juice + sugar. Then use the jam to top toast or waffles, or swirl it into yogurt.

15. Turn your last shallot, lemon, and garlic clove into an all-purpose bean marinade.

Joe Lingeman / Kitchn

Easiest flavor booster ever — and if you can add any herbs, even better. Scoop the beans on toast, over salad greens, into pitas, or eat them solo.

16. Freeze leftover boxed broth into cubes.

Then drop them into recipes that call for a bit of liquid to add flavor at the end, like pasta sauces. Or use them to speed up the process when cooking down lots of greens.

17. Quick-pickle crunchy veg — red onions, radishes, jalapeños — then use as taco toppers.

You likely have all the pickling ingredients in your pantry already.

18. Turn yogurt + berries into frozen fruit pops.

If you have popsicle molds, even better. If not, paper cups are great.

19. Pile leftover vegetables or meat into DIY pizzas.

For the pizza base, try premade or homemade dough, English muffins, or naan. Just about any toppings work too: crumbled sausage, olives, peppers, etc.

20. Upgrade ramen noodles with rotisserie chicken scraps + boxed broth + any veg you have on hand.

21. Use leftover marinara sauce as the base of shortcut shakshuka.

Lauren Volo / Kitchn

This single-serve version is cooked in the microwave — but you could also scale it up or simmer it on the stovetop.

22. Turn the last of the Greek yogurt into shortcut alfredo sauce.

It's packed with protein and comes together in just a few minutes.

23. Wilt greens down — then add a few non-perishables to make it a full meal.

In this case: sundried tomatoes and canned white beans. If you're not into kale, swap in spinach, broccolini, or cabbage.

24. Use that last lemon to clean your microwave.

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

Because let's be real: Your microwave has probably been working harder than usual over the past few weeks. (Mine has!)

Watch: How To Clean A Microwave With Lemon Juice + Water