Rice Bowls: Transforming Leftovers into New Meals

By Maria Buoni
Closeup of rice bowl with lettuce, meat and dressing

Are you stuck with leftovers that you just do not want to reheat and eat again? Instead of throwing it out or fighting repeat meal boredom, try a rice bowl!

Rice bowls can be a great way to use up leftovers while integrating healthy and fresh food you already have in the refrigerator. Got a picky crowd? Just set out the ingredients and let everyone make their own bowl. This is a great way to satisfy a group with a variety of food preferences and restrictions.

If any of the items you have chosen need to be cooked first, start with the ingredients that take the longest. Typically, this would be your base and/or protein if you are not using leftovers. While those are cooking, heat any necessary toppings. Everything will be finished at the same time and ready to add to your bowl.

Get creative with your bowls and see what you can come up with! Try a burrito bowl with white rice, pinto beans, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and salsa, or a barbecue bowl with rice, pulled pork and lettuce. Make an Italian bowl with farro, tomato and cucumber, or if you are craving seafood, try a bowl with quinoa, salmon, lettuce, tomato and avocado. Top with your favorite seeds and sauces, and you have got your own custom bowl. Try this twist on leftovers next time you are stuck searching the fridge at dinnertime, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the meal you have created.

Bowl ideas


  • White rice
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Orzo


  • Tofu
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Egg
  • Fish


  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Corn
  • Sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream

Leftovers don’t have to be boring, and you can make something new with them! Share photos of your bowls with us on social media!


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