They can be convenient if you’re ravenous and need food ASAP. However, they can be a pain to eliminate.

Since discovering Rob has an interview for his green card on May 19th in Sydney, we have created a meal schedule to help us consume our remaining food. On the bright side, this is desirable because we already know what to eat for all our meals. Planning meals begets painless meal preparation.

The other side, it can be difficult to get rid of leftovers when you’re constantly making fresh recipes.

I finally decided enough was enough. Rob and I had over a handful of containers half-filled with leftovers from previous nights. A little soup… leftover diced tomatoes… rice. They all needed to be consumed. The longer they sat in the fridge the less and less appealing they’d become.

And throwing them out is simply not an option to me. Too wasteful.

Instead of hacking together a meal for the two of us with a little bit of everything, I decided create a recipe from the leftovers.

A Latin American theme bounced around my mind. With that idea, I decided the meal to combine the leftovers into a cohesive dish was to be enchiladas.

Chopped Garlic

I gotta have my garlic. Period.

The choice is yours

This recipe is all about using the ingredients you have left over in your fridge. I’m assuming you don’t have the same ingredients in your fridge as I do in mine. That’s okay. You probably have similar items.


I had diced tomatoes in the refrigerator from opening up a jumbo can. I didn’t need all of them so into the fridge they went.

The tomatoes are central to the enchilada sauce as they’re a quintessential Latin American ingredient.

You may have cooked diced tomatoes in your fridge. Another option is fresh tomatoes — perhaps they’re on the verge of becoming moldy. Do you have tomato-based salsa in your fridge? That’s a third suitable option. There are several additional choices at your disposal (taco sauce, tomato paste, etc.). The crucial component is that the base of the product is tomato.

Flavored soup

Rob and I had a portion of spicy blue pea and potato soup. It’s the perfect kind of leftover for this recipe as there wasn’t enough for a single serving.

There are countless types of soups — too many to name. Opt for soups that are thick and not broth-based. If you don’t have a leftover soup in your fridge, you have three other options:

  1. blend up a leftover into a soup consistency;
  2. select another sauce in your fridge; or
  3. use tomato sauce.

The original enchilada sauce I created for another recipe didn’t have the soup in it; it had only tomatoes. The soup is another avenue to consume food hiding in the back of your fridge. I didn’t notice much difference between my two enchilada sauces.


A combination of a leftover rice dish and freshly cooked kidney beans formed my filling. If you have only one or the other, add that. Rice and legumes are both Latin American ingredients. One benefit of using both is increased variety in nutrition. Another is texture variation.Reduce Reuse Recycle Enchiladas Filling

You can choose an ingredient similar to the ones I used, like wild rice instead of brown rice or black beans instead of kidney beans. Or you can turn on your creative juices and include items such as chickpeas, quinoa, lentils, peas or corn.

The advantage of using leftovers is that the ingredients you’re using already have flavor. Few or no extra spices need to be added.

More options

  • Liquid — utilize broth if you have it, water if you don’t. Add a few tablespoons of vinegar to add extra flavor.
  • Sourdough starter — while I firmly hold the belief that everybody should have a sourdough starter in the back of their fridge, I’m aware that isn’t the case. If you’re one of those individuals, you can substitute bread crumbs or a couple of small chunks of undesirable bread instead.
  • Carrot — I added the carrot for nutrition and because it resembles cheese. You can opt to leave it out or replace it with another vegetable.

Reduce Reuse Recycle Enchiladas Filling


Have a bunch of leftovers in your fridge? Use them up in Reduce Reuse Recycle Enchiladas. It’s an innovative, flavorful and appetizing method to eat the old food sitting in your kitchen.

Vegan and free of added salt, sugar, oil, soy, nuts and seeds

Reasons to love this recipe: spicy, flavorful, customizable, uses leftovers

Serves 2

Enchilada Sauce


  • 1/4 cup tomatoes of your choice
  • 1/4 cup flavored soup
  • 1 1/2 cup liquid
  • 1 tbsp sourdough starter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric


Prepare ingredients as described. Add all ingredients to a pressure cooker and whisk to break up the sourdough starter. Small chunks of starter are acceptable but do combine it thoroughly. Pressure cook the sauce on full pressure for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the cooker to naturally release pressure. When the pressure cooker has depressurized, blend the sauce into a smooth mixture.Reduce Reuse Recycle Enchiladas Filling Spices

Reduce Reuse Recycle Enchiladas


  • 6 whole wheat tortillas
  • 3-4 cups filling (your choice of one or a combination of leftover beans, lentils, peas and /or rice)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 sauce recipe


Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Spread half of the enchilada sauce into a medium baking dish.

Lay a tortilla flat on a workstation. Fill the tortilla with approximately 1/2 cup of filling. Roll the tortilla up burrito-style and place in the baking dish seam side down. Fill and roll the rest of the tortillas and filling in the same fashion.

Sprinkle the carrot and then pour the sauce on top of the enchiladas. Cover (with its own top or aluminum foil) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Allow the enchiladas to cool at least 5 minutes before enjoying. They’ll be piping hot coming out of the oven.

  • Updated 3 years ago
Sara Binde

Sara is a health and nutrition coach. She advocates for a whole foods plant-based lifestyle and teaches the world how to achieve weight loss.