Is there anything better than a big plate of yummy pasta? Mmmmmm… But we all know that it starts tasting a little less yummy on days two or three. Save yourself from mealtime boredom by mixing it up with one of our creative recipes for using up that leftover pasta in a new way!
We get it. You want to be resourceful and eat up all those leftovers rather than letting them go to waste. But, sometimes you just can’t stand to dish up another round of the same old pasta with sauce.
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Pasta will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days, so go ahead and store it away for a day or two. Then, pull that pasta back out and reintroduce it with one of our yummy and creative suggestions. It's like brand new! Ready to learn how?
MAKE YOUR LEFTOVERS WORK FOR YOU
The best way to get a brand-spankin' new meal out of your leftover pasta is to leave it plain, so you can fix it up however you want. We suggest only adding sauce to your freshly-made pasta in an amount that you'll eat at that meal. (And if you've already added sauce to your pasta, no worries! We have some great ideas for you below.)
Once you've gotten all the pasta you need for your current meal, add butter or olive oil to your warm pasta to keep it from sticking. Trust us, you don't want to be left with a sticky, clumpy mess of pasta to deal with later! Put it in an airtight food storage container in your fridge to use later in the week.
Pro Tip: If you have leftover pasta sauce, no worries! Add it to a freezer bag, get all the air out, and freeze it until the next time you need it.
FIX UP A DELICIOUS LUNCH WITH THESE LEFTOVER PASTA RECIPES
Lunchtime is the perfect opportunity to repurpose those leftover noodles into a simple, filling dish. Here are a couple of quick, cold options that you can throw together for a weekday lunch:
- Chicken Caesar Salad with Pasta – Take your bagged caesar salad from side dish to entree by adding some grilled chicken strips and leftover pasta for a quick and filling meal.
- Easy Pasta Salad – Add some olive oil, salt and pepper, and your fave herbs for a quick and easy pasta salad to eat at lunch. You can also drizzle your fav homemade vinaigrette as a quick and easy topping!
- Pesto Chicken Pasta – Got some ready-made pesto sauce hiding in the fridge? Add some with fresh chopped veggies and shredded chicken and mix for a yummy lunch dish.
Pro Tip: Why not use those leftover noodles for a little bit of batch meal prep? Mix up a salad with your noodles and then divide it into pre-portioned containers as a delicious side. You’ll have lunch covered for the rest of the week. How resourceful are you?!
QUICK AND EASY DINNER OPTIONS
Pasta can make for a super quick and easy dinner dish. Since your noodles are already cooked, it will be even faster to throw together! Don’t overlook the power of using different savory flavors with your pasta to make them feel new and original. Often, if you steer away from an Italian-style dish to a different flavor vibe, that's enough to do the trick! Here are a couple of dinner recipe suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:
- Ham and Noodle Casserole – Nothing is more classic than a noodle casserole. Add some diced ham, veggies, and a cheesy sauce (like what we use in our homemade macaroni and cheese), then bake until bubbly.
- Stir Fry – Your leftover noodles can replace rice in a quick stir fry. Just toss in a hot pan (woks work best if you have one!) with soy sauce, some chopped veggies, and chicken for an easy peasy meal.
- Chicken Noodle Soup – Cook up some homemade chicken soup using your favorite family recipe and toss in those leftover noodles.
- Pizza Casserole – Mix leftover noodles, homemade pasta sauce, olives, pepperoni, and cheese together and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes until golden bubbly.
- Re-Imagined Mac & Cheese – Use your leftover noodles to create our unique take on mac & cheese.
We’re sure there are dozens of other recipes you can think up to put those noodles to good use. Basically, anything that uses a base of rice or potatoes will work just as well with pasta, too.
SAUCY LEFTOVER PASTA RECIPES
Sometimes you just make too much pasta with sauce and have leftovers, but that's okay! You don't have to reheat them as-is to keep from being wasteful. Here are some of our favorite saucy leftover pasta recipes that you're definitely going to want to try:
- Lasagna Soup – Take your lasagna (regular or roll-ups), chop up those noodles, and stretch it into a new and delicious meal! Add in enough broth, tomato sauce, and seasonings to get it to your liking. Don't be afraid to throw in some pre-cooked ground beef and sautéed onion!
- Italian Skilletini – Take your leftover pasta and sauce and throw it in a skillet. Add in cooked Italian sausage, any chopped veggies you need to use up (grape tomatoes, squash, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, etc.), garlic, and some mozzarella or parmesan cheese. You can't go wrong with this dish, it's so good!
- Creamy Alfredo Soup – Leftover Alfredo pasta is just begging to turn into soup, right?! Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large pot, add some garlic, and whisk in ¼ cup flour for a few minutes. Add in up to 4 cups chicken broth and 1 cup milk or half and half (depending on how many leftovers you have) and let simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened. Add in your leftover pasta and cooked meat (shredded chicken, sausage, and shrimp are all good!) and stir until heated through. Don't hold back on the parmesan cheese, either! 😉
- Cajun Alfredo – Easily turn your leftovers into a new meal! Heat up your leftover Alfredo in a skillet, add some sausage, cajun seasoning, maybe a little bit extra parmesan or milk/heavy cream, and voila! A new meal with a nice little kick.
Pro Tip: It is SO easy to create your own pasta meal! You can seriously take everything you have and make it work for you. Use these tips from our build your own pasta post and never worry about a recipe again!
CAN YOU FREEZE LEFTOVER PASTA?
Good news, yes!!! If you’ve already gone a little heavy on pasta in your meal plan this week, then you can toss buttered (or olive-oiled) cooked pasta into a freezer bag. It will keep for up to three months in the freezer. When it’s time to use it up, just thaw it in the fridge first and then dump it into a pot of boiling water for a minute to heat the noodles. They will taste good as new!
If you are looking for even more leftover pasta recipes and all other types of leftovers, then you won’t want to miss our article with 70+ ways to repurpose leftovers from Fun Cheap or Free.
What's your favorite leftover pasta recipes that you always turn to? We're always looking for new ideas! Share them with us below.
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Pasta la vista!