potato doughnuts with chocolate glaze cooling on a rack

How to Get Clever with Leftovers: Mashed Potatoes, Coffee, Meatloaf,

Leftovers and I have a kind of love-hate relationship. I can’t bear the thought of tossing perfectly delicious food into the garbage because I made too much of it. So I pack it, seal it and fill the refrigerator with it. Once a leftover is past prime—looking more like a science project than tomorrow’s dinner—it’s much easier to part with. The solution, of course, is to have an immediate plan for leftovers and then be diligent in following through. Check out these terrific ideas!

potato doughnuts with chocolate glaze cooling on a rack

Image: Taste of Home

Mashed Potatoes

Potato cakes

Mix cold mashed potatoes with an egg or two, leftover pieces of fish, ham, corned beef plus chopped onion and a little flour to hold it all together. Form into small patties and shallow fry in oil, until brown and crispy.


Use leftover mashed potatoes as a topping on a savory pie filing. You’re not likely to have a great deal of the mashed, so think individual shepherd’s pies or even chicken pot pies.

Lemon, orange cake

Mashed potatoes are an ingredient in many gluten-free desserts, paired with gluten-free self-rising flour, like this Lemon & Orange Cake or this Lemon Drizzle Cake.

Potato doughnuts

So easy to make and drop-dead delicious! You can use the mashed potatoes with the added milk and butter. That becomes one ingredient in Delicious Potato Doughnuts. That plus buttermilk, eggs, and several more ingredients. But no yeast. Already. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? The day after Thanksgiving. The day after Christmas. Actually, the day after any meal that included mashed potatoes!


Freeze it

Coffee ice cubes are great in iced coffee; they don’t dilute the drink as the ice melts. Or add your preferred milk and flavorings to the coffee and pour into Popsicle-type molds for a frozen treat tomorrow.

Make a sauce

After pan-frying chicken or pork, deglaze the pan with coffee instead of wine for a deeper, Southern-style gravy.

Beef jerky

Marinate beef slices in strong coffee and your favorite flavorings for up to eight hours, then dry the beef in the oven at 200ºF for about four hours.

Instead of syrup

Combine hot coffee with melted butter and pour over pancakes or waffles.

Brine a chicken

Coffee-based brines that include spices such as cloves, star anise, peppercorns, and plenty of salt make for delicious and super moist roast chicken.

Dress a salad

For a simple coffee vinaigrette, cook equal parts brewed coffee, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup on the stove at low heat until the mixture is syrupy. Top it off with a little lemon juice.



Use chopped-up leftover meatloaf in place of ground beef to make homemade chili. It’s all seasoned and ready to go.


So easy! Mix together chopped-up meatloaf, onion, green pepper or other toppings of choice. Stir in your favorite BBQ sauce. Cover a flour tortilla with the mixture, top with shredded cheese, and top with a second tortilla. Place tortilla in the skillet cook for 1-2 minutes, until cheese starts to melt and the tortilla start to turn brown. Flip, so each side is golden and crisp.


Replace ground beef with chopped leftover meatloaf in your favorite meat sauce. Over spaghetti, it’s fantastic!

Grilled sandwiches

Add a slice of leftover meatloaf to your next grilled cheese sandwich!


Tiny dinner split rolls plus a slice of meatloaf cut to the same size plus your choice of spreads—bacon onion jam, mayonnaise, mustard, you name it, and what do you get? Party Food! with no party necessary.


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7 replies
  1. Donna says:

    Thanks for the ideas! I’ve been gluten free for a long time and hadn’t come across using mashed potatoes in baking. I’m intrigued. Also, I feel like I would really like the meatloaf quesadilla, but we love the sandwiches so much I don’t think there will ever be enough leftovers to try it 🙂

  2. Linda Radosevich says:

    Ah, who remembers Spudnuts? Some of the best doughnuts around! But sorry, Mary, as a South westerner, I can’t see bar-b-que sauce on quesadillas!

  3. Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing. I learned your great trick a year ago regarding left over meatloaf: chop up, add your fave pasta sauce, simmer and voila! Easy peasy spaghetti/meat sauce for kids/family. Your choice of pasta!


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