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Quick Uses for Leftover Ingredients

For many, upcoming holiday get-togethers may be more scaled back than previous years. And though gatherings might be more intimate, there’s still a lot of excitement that goes into preparing a meal for the ones you hold close. While there’s typically plenty to eat, there will almost surely be leftover ingredients stocked away in the fridge well after everyone has devoured your fabulous feast. We rounded up a few of the most common leftover ingredients and quick ideas for making good use of them.

Pumpkin Purée

It’s the season for pumpkin everything, and for some, pumpkin desserts are a must-have Thanksgiving treat. Pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, and breads are delicious, but what to do with the two to four tablespoons of pumpkin purée that didn’t make it into the recipe? Use it to make a one-serving cup of pumpkin spice latte, of course. This recipe from Inspired Taste only takes 10 minutes to whip up.


Needed to make your own cranberry sauce, fresh cranberries often come in bulk, making it easy to overbuy the essential fruit of a sometimes-overlooked condiment. Though tasty when cooked and sweetened, raw cranberries can be bitter and unsavory. For a festive touch, use them as a garnish in your favorite bubbly cocktail or roast them for delicious cranberry goat cheese crostini bites.

Condensed Milk

This ultra-rich gooey deliciousness is a vital component for many desserts but, more often than not, you’ll find yourself with more than enough. Try condensed milk as a substitute for your daily creamer in your coffee or tea. Drizzle it over ice cream or the fruit you have on hand. Add it to pudding or use it as a dip for cookies. Whatever you decide, know there’s no wrong way to use leftover condensed milk.


Having made its way into crowd-pleasing salads, arugula is typically used as an accompaniment—not the main ingredient. A lettuce that’s sold by the bunch, its peppery, bitter taste makes it difficult for some to eagerly consume. Fear not: Like with other dark, leafy greens, simply steam or sauté arugula to tame its punch. Add a dash of salt, garlic powder, or other seasonings for a palate-pleasing side dish.

Chicken Broth

Though versatile, half-full cartons of store-bought chicken broth are sitting in refrigerators across the world right now. While there are a variety of uses for leftover broth, one of the simplest is as a replacement for water in cooking grains. Whether it’s rice, quinoa, or pasta, using chicken broth instead of water will give it a flavorful kick.


The secret ingredient for old-fashioned mashed potatoes, buttermilk will fly off grocery shelves this season—mostly to sit in your fridge through the rest of the holidays. Perfect for biscuits or baked goods, a less time-consuming use of buttermilk might be for salad dressings. Try this recipe for a green goddess dressing that calls for just enough buttermilk to use up your leftovers.