• These crunchy-edged fritters are a great way to use up leftovers. (Donna Hay: Basics to Brilliance)Source: Donna Hay: Basics to Brilliance
No boring ham sandwiches! Here are some much better ideas for making the most of what's in your festive fridge.
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19 Dec 2018 - 8:44 AM  UPDATED 28 Dec 2020 - 7:17 PM

Your fridge is stuffed with leftovers … ham, turkey, cheese, pudding…. And you really, REALLY can’t face the idea of another ham sandwich, or another slice of Christmas cake? We hear you. Here are our favourite ways to make the most of all that food, transforming it into tasty snacks and meals and making sure that none of it eventually ends up in the bin.

Chicken and turkey

A sandwich might seem obvious – but this is no ordinary sandwich. The tangy dressing transforms chicken or turkey into a sandwich fit for a Queen (or that's how the story goes: coronation chicken is said to have been created in honour of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953). At its simplest, a coronation chicken sandwich consists of cooked chicken and a creamy curry dressing – just the sort of dressing that can also transform your Christmas turkey, which can, let's be honest, sometimes be a little dry. 

You can also give chicken or turkey new life in Justine Schofield's shredded chicken and cabbage salad with sesame dressing

Shredded chicken and cabbage salad with sesame dressing

Ham

If you're still feeding a hungry horde, then this cheese and ham bread is a great way to put a new spin on leftover ham and fill hungry bellies.

Tacos can also be a great way to use up leftover ham and pork – check out the SBS Food taco recipe collection for lots of ideas.

And the ham bone, too…

Nothing beats full-of-flavour baked beans in a cheesy jaffle! This recipe for Boston baked bean & cheddar jaffles is a great way to use up the remnants of the Christmas ham bone (you can also make the tasty beans with a smoked ham hock, so this is one to put on your comfort food list for any time of the year.)

Lamb

In her TV series Basics to Brilliance, Donna Hay not only shares her recipe and tips for a fall-apart slow-roasted lamb shoulder but a great idea for turning leftover lamb into a vibrant lunch or dinner. "My crispy lamb and pea fritters are inspired by a dish my mum used to cook. Every time we'd have the lamb roast you could guarantee the night after we’d have lamb fritters. So I've come up with a little bit of a variation," she says. Get Donna's fritter recipe here.

Pork

Rice paper rolls are so good in the hot days of summer, so they're a great way to use up leftover Christmas roast pork. Try it in this very easy recipe from chef Dan Churchill; using leftovers will make this already-quick recipe even faster. 

Vietnamese fresh rice paper rolls

Bacon, salami and other deli meats

These scone-dough scrolls, by chef Adrian Richardson, are a fast and easy way to use up leftover bacon, chorizo or salami. The dough (made with self-raising flour, not yeast, so it comes together quickly) is really a canvas for whatever you fancy eating - or want to use up. Think leftover pizza sauce, meat, antipasto, cheese or herbs.

A super-easy way to use up leftover bacon, chorizo or salami. You could also add cheese.

Prawns

Channel the '80s and make the sandwich version of the prawn cocktail in this prawn and Marie Rose sauce sandwich!

Salmon

If a side of salmon had pride of place at your festive gathering, try this for the leftovers. This recipe for salmon and watercress salad with crispy potatoes includes instructions for smoking the salmon fillets, but it’s also a great flavour combination for using up leftover cooked salmon.

Or if you’ve got leftover smoked salmon slices, turn them into a tasty breakfast in these ricotta and smoked salmon fritters.

Cheese

These little pasties wrap a creamy cauliflower cheese filling in a crunchy cheesy crust! Cheddar is a good choice, but you can use any kind of cheese in the filling, as long as it melts well.   

You can also turn leftover cheddar into a Mexican-style chilli, bacon and cheese cornbread:

Poblano bacon cheddar skillet cornbread

And this potato and mozzarella tart recipe is a great template for using up leftovers, not just cheese but salad greens and vegetables, too. Just change up the toppings to suit what you have on hand, topping it all with some good melty cheese.

You can also use cheese in the batter for these cauliflower and cheese waffles (and top them with leftover ham!); if you’ve also got kimchi at hand, melt some in these kimchi quesadillas; or throw several kinds of cheese into this quinoa and spinach quiche.

A bit of everything

Muffaletta is basically layers of smallgoods, cheese and grilled antipasto vegetables, tucked into a loaf of bread – which makes it not only excellent picnic fare, but a great way to use up all kinds of leftovers. Think of this recipe as a guide, and substitute whatever you have on hand. Make it a few hours ahead, so it has time to settle and achieve that perfect stuffed-loaf consistency!

And these mini meat pies (made using purchased puff pastry) are great for using up leftover roast meat (beef, chicken, lamb or pork), vegetables and gravy.

Best Homemade Mini Meat Pie

Cake and pudding

Christmas pudding turns into a cool treat in these boozy Christmas popsicles!

And if your festive gatherings have left you with cake, here's a round up of ideas, tips and recipes for using up all kinds, from fruity Christmas cake to plain cake crumbs, transforming them into trifles, boozy balls and more. 

In the unlikely event you have leftover cake, here's what to do
From trifles to truffles, those leftovers can have a whole new life.

More ways to love your leftovers
Step aside, ham sambos: 9 tasty ways to use up your Christmas ham
So the silly season is over, but what do you do with all that leftover ham? Here are a few ideas to help you keep things interesting in the ham department, with not a sandwich in sight.
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Here are five things you might not think to freeze but can.
Sourdough bread pudding

We all love sourdough, but what do we do when it goes stale or we have offcuts? This is a great warming dessert or sliced and served with tea. Rich, flavoursome and very economical to make. Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen