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21 Quick and easy dinner ideas using your leftovers

Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the author of the food blog Cooking with Books. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she has worked as an overnight bread baker in Colorado and a chocolate maker in Virginia. She currently resides ...

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Whether you're a college student with no time to cook between classes, a busy mom with young children or a single guy who's looking for quick meals, we've got you covered with meals you can make with leftovers in under 15 minutes.

Sure, there are days when you have endless hours to spend creating family dinners, but let's be honest: Sometimes you barely have 15 minutes to get the family fed and ready for extracurricular activities. Here are our top picks for quick but flavorful dinner recipe ideas using leftovers.

For when you have leftover rice or quinoa...

1. Fried rice recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Gimme Some Oven

Basically fried rice is the go-to recipe when you have leftover rice. It hits the spot every time.

2. Broccoli, rice and chicken casserole recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Table for Two

A tried-and-true recipe, this broccoli, rice and chicken casserole is perfect for all those rice and chicken leftovers from the week.

3. Fried Thai quinoa recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

A twist on the traditional fried rice, this fried Thai quinoa is for those craving a little more spice in their life.

4. Spinach-quinoa salad with roasted grapes, pears and almonds recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Two Peas & Their Pod

Trying to be healthy while still eating leftovers? Use your leftover quinoa in this spinach-quinoa salad with roasted grapes, pears and almonds.

5. Indian-inspired coconut curry quinoa recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Need a little something more exotic? Try your hand at this easy but flavorful Indian-inspired coconut curry quinoa when you have leftover quinoa.

For when you have leftover pasta...

6. Pasta frittata recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: In Erika's Kitchen

Whip up some eggs, and throw in your leftover pasta for this pasta frittata.

7. Spaghetti balls with meat sauce recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: I Wash... You Dry

Take leftover spaghetti to new heights with these spaghetti balls with meat sauce.

8. Baked pasta with sausage and spinach recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Skinnytaste

Always a classic, baked pasta recipes like this baked pasta with sausage and spinach is the perfect way to rid yourself of leftovers and turn them into a delicious meal.

9. Lasagna soup recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: A Farmgirl's Dabbles

If you're anything like us, you always have leftover lasagna noodles. Make this lasagna soup, and you'll be making noodles for this recipe, not the original lasagna.

10. French onion spaghetti pie recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Hungry Couple

Caramelized onions and leftover pasta make this French onion spaghetti pie a sublime idea.

For when you have leftover steak, chicken or lamb...

11. Steak salad with blue cheese, avocado and basil-balsamic dressing recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Laylita's Recipes

Throw your leftover steak on top of greens with a delicious vinaigrette, and you have this gorgeous steak salad with blue cheese, avocado and basil-balsamic dressing.

12. Rosemary-garlic-crusted lamb chops recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Grilled some lamb chops but have a couple lying around the fridge? Make these rosemary-garlic-crusted lamb chops.

13. Chipotle Mexican steak and cilantro-lime rice burritos recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Half Baked Harvest

Use marinated steak to whip up this easy Chipotle Mexican steak and cilantro-lime rice burritos.

14. Steak, pear and Gorgonzola flatbread recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Katie's Cucina

Put together this steak, pear and Gorgonzola flatbread in minutes if you have leftover steak.

15. Barbecue chicken cornbread pie recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Damn Delicious

Have leftover rotisserie chicken? This barbecue chicken cornbread pie is the way to use up those leftovers.

16. Mexican chicken and rice casserole recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Oh, Sweet Basil

Mexican chicken and rice casserole, the perfect casserole for leftover chicken and rice.

For when you have leftover vegetables...

17. Pork ramen recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Savvy Eats

Warm up on a cool winter night with leftover vegetables to make this easy pork ramen.

18. Beef teriyaki and vegetables recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: A Family Feast

Any sort of protein plus vegetables makes delicious dishes, like this beef teriyaki and vegetables.

19. Chicken vegetable soup with rice recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: Food Done Light

Feeling under the weather? Grab any leftovers you have to make this brothy chicken vegetable soup with rice.

20. Hot and sour noodle stir-fry peanut chicken recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: The Law Student's Wife

We're all over the awesome flavors this hot and sour noodle stir-fry peanut chicken offers.

21. Couscous with lentils and vegetables recipe

For those nights when you're running around, these leftover recipes are lifesavers!

Blog: A Family Feast

Lentils are such a great protein source, so try them in this couscous with lentils and vegetables recipe.

More on quick dinners

Spinach chicken Alfredo French bread pizza
Easy one-hand dinners
Tonight's Dinner: Mini ravioli with pancetta and peas

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