Waste not, want not. It’s an excellent mantra to abide by year-round but feels extra fitting for Christmas. From reducing food wastage to saving money and being kind to the planet, eating leftovers makes a lot of sense. To help you make this year’s Christmas feast go further, we’ve tapped some of our favourite chefs for advice on how to make fridge clean-outs not only fun, but delicious.

Melissa Palinkas – Young George, Perth
Transforming leftovers on Boxing Day is my thang. I love the idea of getting creative. My favourite way to use up leftover turkey is in a taco. I usually make a tinga sauce – chipotle, burnt tomatoes, onions and spices cooked down to a rich sauce – then add my shredded turkey and make some soft, fresh taco shells. A thing I love to do with leftover porchetta is a chopped salad with noodles, coriander, a nahm jim dressing, some crisp shallots and peanuts. Most people over-purchase food for Christmas. Big Oven is a website that shows people how to easily use what they have in the fridge over Christmas.

Dan HongMr Wong, Mumu, Ms G’s, Sydney
Add any leftover protein to instant noodles. At the moment, I really like Korean instant noodles. King prawn and Christmas ham chapaguri? Hell yes. Mum also uses leftover ham bones to make congee, and I can confirm it’s delicious.

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Shannon Martinez – Smith & Daughters, Smith & Deli and Lona Misa, Melbourne; Alibi Bar & Dining, Sydney
Pavlovas on Boxing Day are a good way to use up leftover fruit as well as the brandy custard from the plum pudding. If you fold the custard through vegan whipped cream, you get something that’s a little thicker than zabaglione, but with that nice boozy hit. I reckon that would be beautiful with berries. Also, most custard powder is vegan, including Bird’s, which is the brand you find in most supermarkets.

Neil Perry – Margaret, Sydney

Take your leftover meats and vegetables, chop everything up and fry it together. Add a couple of eggs to make a hash, and spoon XO sauce over the top. Serve with rice and a wedge of lime on the side. If you’ve got any seafood left over, add shaved cabbage, some chipotle sauce, avocado and a couple of slices of tomato and cucumber, and wrap in a soft, warm tortilla.

Guy Grossi – Grossi Florentino, Melbourne
We always have leftover seafood. As Italians we often turn to pasta to use up leftovers – for example, prawns and mussels get tossed through some linguine with chilli, garlic, parsley and olive oil. If there’s any leftover roast beef, we like to slice it super thin and have it cold as a cold-cut with horseradish. The abundance of panettone always gets put to good use. We often whip up a zabaglione and spoon it over the leftover panettone to soften it slightly, or use it to make the most delicious summer pudding.

Alanna Sapwell – Beach Byron Bay, Byron Bay

Galettes Normandes, or buckwheat crepes, are the perfect vessel to use up those leftovers. They’re traditionally made with ham and bechamel with a fried egg on top. You can use up the ends of the cheese as well as the rind by infusing it into the bechamel. Otherwise, use the crepes as a blank canvas and fill them with whatever you have.

Amy Hamilton – Liberté, Albany
In my house when there’s ham at Christmas, there’s always hungover Boxing Day toasties and croque monsieurs. Keeping the family alive with leftover ham-and-cheese toasties is about all I can muster the day following Christmas. Any seafood can be added to a Chinese-style omelette spruced with chives for another easy meal idea.

Adam Liaw – TV presenter, Sydney

Every year we use leftover turkey to make a red curry. Have a bit of red-curry paste in the fridge, a few well-aligned vegetables, some coconut milk and herbs, and it makes a great Boxing Day lunch.

Matt Stone – You Beauty, Ciao, Mate!, NSW

Making a broth from leftover proteins is always a winner. Prawn and cray shells with fish bones chucked into a pot with celery or leek tops and simmered lightly for an hour will give you a delicious, fragrant broth to use in paella or risotto. Turkey and ham bones and leftover roasted veggies simmered for a few hours gives you a rich, nutrient-packed broth that makes a delicious light meal or a base for heaps of things.

Daniel Mark – Lanterne Rooms, Canberra
I love spending Christmas prepping and cooking a roast turkey, baked potatoes, laying out cold-cuts and prawns and shucking oysters, but at the end of the day I’m still a curry and rice man. Chop up all the leftover turkey, bone-in. Then fry off some curry paste, loosen it with a little stock or water, then add in the turkey to make a dry curry. I’d then add in all the leftover baked potatoes and eat everything with steamed rice and some of my best mates. Now that the house isn’t as crowded, there’s a little more time to make some cocktails to go with the curry, too.

Guy Jeffreys – Millbrook, Perth
I like making a hoi tod with leftovers. I’m not known for cooking Asian food, but this is something I make at home. Traditionally, this Thai seafood pancake is made with oysters or mussels, but you can also make it with ham, turkey – anything. For one pancake, mix 20 mils of sparkling water and 25 grams of tapioca flour, whisk that until it becomes glue, crack an egg in there and break it up with a whisk, then pour it onto a hot barbeque plate or pan and fry it pretty hard. As soon as it’s crisp, put your ham or turkey on it then flip it over. Depending on what you’re putting in it, you can either pair it with nuoc cham (Vietnamese chilli dipping sauce) or a relish. I love the texture of it – it’s almost chewy and feels a bit like cheese.

Mark Best – Netflix’s The Final Table and formerly of Marque, Sydney
I think the Thai larb (meat salad) is the perfect vehicle to use up the abundance of leftover Christmas protein. Served with plenty of crisp raw vegetables and a few cold beers. It is a serviceable palliative for seasonal excess.

Emma McCaskill – Tasting Australia, Adelaide
It’s not very Christmassy, but if I’m lucky, mum whips out her faithful spinach-and-bolognaise lasagne. To be honest, her lasagne tastes better the next day, thinly sliced and eaten cold. I also stash a loaf of bread for Boxing Day to make sandwiches with all the leftover meat and salad. Don’t dress or season the whole bowl of salad on Christmas Day; keep the dressing on the side. This way it keeps the salad intact for Boxing Day sandwiches. Nobody likes a soggy sandwich.

Palisa Anderson – Boon Cafe, Sydney; Boon Luck Farm, Byron
Chuck everything into fried rice, stir-fried noodles or, in my mum’s case, in a pot seasoned with ginger, dark soy and a little wine vinegar cooked down to a soft-ish braise, then finish with soft herbs. You can’t go wrong.

Ben Greeno – The Paddington, Hotel Centennial, Sydney
Red rice from Camargue in southern France is a staple in our house since visiting a few years ago. After cooking it in a rice cooker, fold in some diced turkey, a spoonful of mustard, some chopped pistachios and whatever herbs you have left. If there’s any leftover Christmas pudding, I like to cut it in pieces and pan-fry them till they go crisp on the edges. Top with a scoop of marmalade and, if you can get it, clotted cream.

This story was originally published on December 77, 2020, but was updated on December 5, 2022 to reflect change in chef positions and jobs.