Got eggs? Make a Tex-Mex scramble

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Drain a jar of salsa, and mix it into beaten eggs with a bit of shredded cheddar or Jack cheese. Top with a few tortilla chips and chopped cilantro. Add sliced avocado if you have it.


Got canned tomatoes? Make steamed mussels

Wallet-friendly and so easy: Cook a can of chopped tomatoes with a cup of wine or beer and herbs in a pot, toss in mussels (about 1 pound per person), cover and steam till they open, about 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. 


Got fresh tomatoes? Make do-ahead tomato sauce

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Whip up amazingly delicious sauce with just 5 minutes of prep: Mince 3 garlic cloves. Place in a pan with 2 Tbsp. olive oil (don't heat the pan or oil first). Turn the heat to medium and wait until it sizzles, then transfer to a bowl. Stir in 5 or 6 chopped medium tomatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, some chopped fresh basil and oregano (even a little mint, if you have it) as well as a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper; toss in a pinch of crushed red pepper for a bit of heat. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 2—or up to 4—hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve on pasta or on slices of crusty bread along with some grated Parmesan or crumbled feta.


Got canned tuna? Make tuna salad

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For texture and color, mix in vegetables such as shredded carrots, sliced cherry tomatoes and diced celery and peppers. Add relish, if you like (check the label to ensure it's free of high-fructose corn syrup), plus lemon juice and ground black pepper. Stir in a spoonful of mayo and you're done. Serve it over mixed greens. Or spoon it onto English muffins, top with cheese and broil.


Got stale bread? Make fried sandwiches

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Have some bread going stale, plus maybe a little ham or smoked turkey in the fridge? Transform it into a fancy-sounding croque monsieur, which is basically a French toast–ified ham-and-cheese sandwich. Layer ham or turkey and Swiss (really, any cheese will do) on bread slices slathered with mustard and mayo. In a bowl, whisk eggs with a little milk. Carefully dip sandwiches in egg mixture, then cook in a skillet—preferably in a little melted butter—until golden-brown on both sides. Quick and easy!


Got leftover chicken? Make chicken tacos

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Everyone loves taco night. Shred or chop up the chicken and offer with beans, shredded lettuce, salsa, avocado and small tortillas or taco shells. Let everyone build her own.


Got leftover rice? Make fried rice

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Stir-fry vegetables, add leftover meat (if you like), then add the rice and stir-fry until hot. Voilà: You've made easy, delicious fried rice and used up your leftovers. Win-win!


Got leftover veggies? Make stir-fry

Photo: Iain Bagwell

Chop up any vegetables you have on hand into bite-size pieces, or raid the freezer for veggie options. Whisk together soy sauce and rice vinegar, chopped garlic and ginger (keep knobs in the freezer) and a thickener (such as arrowroot or cornstarch) to make a quick sauce. Sauté the vegetables in a superhot pan for a few minutes before adding the sauce and stirring for another minute. Or try one of these speedy stir-fry recipes.


Got oatmeal? Make savory oats

Instead of mixing old-fashioned oats with milk and maple syrup, cook them with salted water or broth. Toast the oats in a pan in a little oil or butter; warm the broth in a separate pan. Then mix the two together and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Less starch is released this way, so the oats come out fluffier. (If you prefer them creamier, start with cold grains and cold liquid.) Top with fried eggs and whatever stir-fried veggies you may have in the fridge or freezer, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.