Leftover Repurpose: Homemade Baked Beans

One of the things I find the most enjoyable is finding a new recipe and testing it out. Many time since I am unsure of exactly how it will turn out, I make the full amount the recipe calls for. With my family of three humans and two pets, many times that means we eat leftovers. While I do love the next day goodness of my yummy tests, after one meal, leftovers begin to lose their appeal and meal time becomes not so much about enjoyment as about not being wasteful.

If the recipe I made can be frozen and reheated later, I will at times set aside a meal sized portion and prepare that to freeze to have a meal waiting on a day when I’m not so tired of that food and need something quick and filling. This saves the food and saves us from swearing off this food group for awhile. I also at times will intentionally make a full sized portion of a meal with the sole purpose of filling my freezer with the leftovers to be enjoyed another day.

Recently, we hosted a weekend BBQ that had a wide variety of amazing foods. Jim tried his hand at homemade baked beans for the first time and they were delicious but on the spicy side. The recipe called for two pounds of dried beans as a base. Originally I didn’t think much of this amount, thinking it was comparable to a few cans of beans. Boy was I wrong! Two pounds of dried beans makes a HUGE amount of baked beans. After everyone had their fill of beans we were left with a large container of spicy but delicious baked beans and no idea what to do with them. We ate them as a side dish for a few meals and grew a little tired of baked beans. Not wanting to throw them away I got to thinking about how to use them up as something else and how to use it in a way that I could cut their heat a bit, I came up with the idea to cook up some ground beef, season it a bit with just salt and pepper and add this to the baked beans to create a simple chili. Topped with cool sour cream and cheese this was a dinner winner indeed and made great use of our baked beans a fun and different way.

Here are the ingredients that I used

  • about 3 cups leftover baked beans (we used homemade)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • cornbread (optional)

And here’s what I did with them

  • Brown ground beef in a large pot. Drain any fat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add baked beans and water to browned ground beef and if using tomatoes, drain and add the can as well.
  • Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. If the beans appear to be dry, add an additional 1/4 cup of water and stir well to combine. You can also reserve the tomato juice and add that in place of like amount of water.
  • Simmer until warmed through. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.

And there you have it folks. Instead of my baked beans rotting in the dark recesses of my fridge or being tossed due to a complete lack of appetite for them, they were given new life as a tasty, fast and weeknight friendly chili. And this is only one way. I challenge you to look at leftovers not as a food to be tolerated in order to save money and resources but as a base for a whole new and exciting meal. While I know that making every single leftover into something new, exciting and delicious is extreme, you can do it a few times a month. Just think of the time and money saved as well as avoiding that feeling of wastefulness when you toss out food that went bad due to being forgotten or pushed back in the fridge. So now you tell me, what is a leftover achievement meal you’ve made? Comment below or let me know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Let’s talk leftovers!