Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: How to Use Leftover Vegetables

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Use Leftover Vegetables

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The pictures above are of my littles helping me wash, cut, and bag veggies to freeze. We also made some zucchini puree to throw into quick breads and such.

I don't know about you, but I feel like after every dinner we have just a few veggies leftover....not really enough for another serving, but too much to throw away without feeling a tad bit guilty over the wasted food (I always have a smidge of guilt when throwing food away). To relive myself of that guilt, I always save those last few vegetables and use them creatively throughout the week. Using leftovers is a great way to save money and add a little nutritional kick to other recipes throughout the week.
The first thing I do is, I don't season my veggies. I like to cook them in the pressure cooker with just water. If the family wants to add butter, salt, or pepper, then they can do it that when they take a serving of vegetables. The reason I do this is that unseasoned veggies can easily be thrown into sauces, smoothies, and baked goods. If I had added salt to my carrots, then my morning sunrise smoothie would have been salty. Trust me no one wants a salty smoothie. It just isn't right!

Once my veggies are cooked and have been gobbled up by the family, I then get creative with whatever tidbits are left. Sometimes I even make extra veggies, so I have more to use during the week.

One of the main things I do with carrots, zucchini, and spinach is to throw them into smoothies. We try to have a smoothie each day. It doesn't always happen, but I sure do try to make it happen. When we have a smoothie in the morning, I know that my kids are getting a big dose of vitamins to get their day going. It is also great for me. When I am making my kids eat better, I eat better. Everyone wins! My favorite smoothie recipe is below. I call it a Sunrise Smoothie and it is a crowd favorite in my home. We also love Hulk Smoothies and Dora Smoothies. My children named these when they were little (like 2 and 3). Naming the smoothies after their favorite characters helped them to want to drink them more. I mean wouldn't you want to drink a hulk smoothie if you were 3 and thought it would give you super strength? Of course you would:)

Sunrise Smoothie

2 ½ cups orange juice
1 banana
4-5 strawberries
1 handful of pineapple
1 tbl chia seeds
¼ cup leftover carrots or zucchini

blend until smooth. Serve to munchkins with hungry tummy's!

The chia seeds are a great add in. They are like your body's scrub brushes, cleaning out all the bad stuff. You could also use ground bran or flax seed instead. Both are great source of fiber as well!

(I buy my chia seeds at Costco and my bran and flax seeds from Winco)

Serves 2

Hulk Smoothie

2 ½ cups orange juice
1 heaping handful of fresh spinach (you can also use leftover spinach)
1 banana
1 handful of pineapple
¼ cup carrots or zucchini

blend till smooth

Serves 2

*I purchase my spinach in a big tub from Costco. It cost me less then $4 and last us for 2-3 weeks.

Dora Smoothie

2 ½ cups milk (we use soy)
4-5 strawberries
1 banana
1 tbl ground flax seed, ground bran, or chia seeds
¼ cup leftover carrots or zucchini

blend until smooth

serves 2

One thing to remember is that when you are using spinach, it will change the color of the smoothie. When my kids were little I only added spinach to the Hulk Smoothies. Now I can include them in other smoothies, since my kids are not as color sensitive to what they eat. They think it is fun to guess what sneaky ingredients I have added into our smoothies.

Another way I make use of those pesky leftover veggies, is to add them into soups. I keep a freezer safe tub in my freezer at all times. As we have leftovers, like corn, peas, or green beans, I add them to my container. I then make use of these veggies when I am making a soup, casserole, or skillet meal. These are quick additions to any meal. It is also pretty awesome when you pull it out, add it to a meal, and feel like you just got something for free. I mean seriously...most people would have thrown out that last spoonful of corn, but you saved it, which saved your family a bit of change as well. Score!

It is also important to remember that when a recipe calls for a specific type of vegetable, it is ok to substitute for something you already have on hand. For example, when a recipe calls for green beans, sometimes I will use peas in place of the beans. Recipes don't have to be so literal. You are the chef in the kitchen, so experiment and have fun!

The last thing I do with leftover veggies is that I make purees. Everyone knows I love purees. I love Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef. They've got it going on in the kitchen. Those two ladies showed me how to cook with purees and have changed the way I feed my family. Making purees with my leftover veggies is a great way to save money and add a little extra veggie goodness to our baked goods. I put these in our cakes, cookies, breads, and sauces. With my purees I stick to white bean puree, carrot puree, sweet potato puree, zucchini puree, and spinach puree. All of these make great additions to my baking and cooking.

So now I have shared with you my tips and tricks on using up those veggies, but I know there are a ton more out there. How do you guys and gals use up your leftover veggies? You can share in the comments below or on Blissful and Domestic's facebook page. Thanks lovelies!

 Check out this week's yummy features on Blissful and Domestic's Recipe Page

XO Danielle


  1. We eat mainly raw veggies. I do cook them from time to time, but we eat lots of raw with salads. Or as snacks.
    So when you are making smoothies using spinach are you using BABY spinach? I make smoothies a lot, and made the mistake once of buying regular spinach (because it was a sale) and the taste is SO strong! I couldn't even drink it. The boys would puke for sure! Baby spinach has a much milder taste. Search my blog for the Hairy Green Supreme---my all time FAVORITE smoothie!!!!

  2. too funny that you posted this today! I was cleaning out the fridge and trying to figure out dinner last night with leftovers. and for me I baked a sweet potato in the oven and then stir fry-ed up green beans, squash and cabbage in evoo, salt, pepper and garlic powder and served it over the sweet potato! .... I also use lots of purées ! and smoothies this time of year with the fresh fruit (I buy extra and freeze so we will have fresh tasting this winter) .. love being food savvy :)

  3. Love your suggestions here! I always keep a bowl/bag in the freezer and when we have leftover veggies, I just throw them in there. In the winter, I use the leftovers for stew, soups, casseroles, etc. I've been saving leftover vegetables for years and I have even recently started doing this for meat, too! I have a separate bag for each type of meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and I just keep adding the leftovers. The seasonings don't seem to matter too much, when mixing them all together and it's a great way to save money and time in the winter.

    1. I love that idea a lot. And what a major money saving and time saving tip.

  4. Most of my veggie leftovers go our pet turtle. I sometimes think she eats better than us. Next time I'm going to try the smoothies and she can eat the scraps.

  5. I love these ideas! I typically just cook dinner for myself so I can get pretty lazy and heat up something simple and it isn't always the healthiest. I would love to use purees for myself, especially to use all the veggies before they go bad!

  6. I wonder if there is a battery blender. Boondocking this summer (no electricty) until Oct 19th. I love the idea of making quick smoothies. Jorge/Evielynne

  7. With a lot of veggies you can save the tips and bits that you don't normally eat and build up enough to make stock.

    For example when I was canning I saved the carrot ends and the carrot peelings. I saved the bits of the onion I didn't use and the same thing for the celery. All of that will go in my next slow cooker batch of chicken. I'll drain the veggie bits out and have flavorful broth left over.

    On the radish tops -- I haven't tried it, but apparently they can be used to make a pesto type sauce.

  8. I use extra greens to make dumplings. Also, anything can go in a quiche. I've been blogging about this very topic this summer because we joined a farm share and we keep getting a bunch of weird stuff we've never eaten before. It's been a crash course in cooking - that's for sure!

  9. Cauliflower is another excellent can add it to macaroni and cheese, potato salad or use the leftovers as mentioned in soups and in making stock

  10. You can make a beautiful veggie cream soup with almost any veggie you have in the fridge. boil them with an onion and some parsley, puree the veggies, add them back to the stock with a dash of cream. My kids love it! I liked a lot of your ideas, and you're right, there's always just a smidge of leftover veggies with each meal. What do do! Some leftovers like a lemon wedge, can be used in green cleaning.

  11. One idea that hasn't been mentioned is one I use all the time. We have a healthy fried rice. I use whatever leftover veggies we have in the house, along with leftover protein or even turkey/ham sandwich meat that might be getting close to going. I often cook extra rice and keep it in the fridge for this. The cooking goes quickly... a little onion/garlic(and often a little carrot/celery, too) in a little canola oil, toss the protein in, then the rice, and break it up, then add the already cooked veggies. I'll also todd in a handful of peas. It's always loaded with veggies. To flavor it up, you can use just a little soy sauce, or some teriyaki sauce, or whatever suits your fancy. You can find ideas in asian cookbooks.

  12. For my leftover veggies, I usually keep a ziploc bag in the freezer and just chuck them into the bag after a meal and then use it for when I make up my next batch of stock. I also keep the chicken frames and any peelings or the bits you usually throw out as well for my stock. I find it makes the best stock


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