Stuffed Peppers - kitchen clean-out

The Magic of Limited Ingredients…

This past week, we were heading out to visit family down south for a few weeks. Days before we left, I found myself tasked with using all the bits and scraps left in our fridge. Nothing really “fit” into one of our regular rotation recipes – so I had to get a bit creative. The night before we left, I whipped up a few stuffed peppers – filled with the bits of what was in our fridge. It felt a bit like a kitchen clean out meal – but one that was actually unbelievably tasty!

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Using What’s Available to Create a Masterpiece

Ever get to the end of the week and feel like there are limited ingredients, just odds and ends, left in the fridge? You might feel like: “there’s nothing to cook”… The reality?: “It’s an opportunity for creativity”. 1/4 cup of cooked chickpeas or a bit of hummus, a small wedge of cheese, 1/3 of a can of tomato paste, and a bit of ground meat can make an incredible meal.

The “Use What I Have” Limited Ingredient Challenge

This technique means that you don’t have to throw away those bits of ingredients that are left in your fridge. In fact, save them throughout the week for this purpose. Then, take on the “Use What I’ve Got” Challenge.

This challenge happens most often when we are about to travel or when I need to go to the grocery store. I like to leave with a cleaned out fridge. I also like to add new ingredients to the fridge AFTER I’ve cleaned out what I have. It’s the budget-friendly, end-of-the week game that happens often in our house.

So, make it a game. Take on the Challenge. Limited ingredients can create unexpected masterpieces. Delicious, quick, and budget-friendly meals come from an almost empty fridge. A few fresh ingredients, and even a couple of leftovers and voila..dinner!

Using Leftovers

Leftovers have a bit of a bad reputation. The reality? Leftovers can be an incredibly tasty component to any meal. Why? Longer cooking or resting times allow the flavors of a dish to develop further. In fact, many restaurants use leftover sauces, soups, and ingredients to prepare their best meals. Rather than being afraid to use leftovers, try to use them to create new, quick-and-easy weeknight recipes.

One of the best ways to incorporate leftovers into your meal is to use a common mixed-food recipe. The basic components of a mixed-food recipe are usually vegetables, protein, and a slow carb – but it doesn’t really matter what you use for each component. Whether you’re preparing a stir fry, stew, or stuffed vegetable – most leftover ingredients will fit in just fine.

Stuffed Peppers (or other Vegetables) Recipe Formula

The recipe below is not exactly your standard “recipe”. Rather, it’s a formula to use to build your own meal. I used ground turkey, goat cheese, chickpeas, and a variety of vegetable and stuffed them into peppers. Alternatively, you could get creative and use your own protein, cheese, slow carbohydrate, and vegetables.

Don’t like peppers? Try stuffing zucchini or wrapping the filling in a big leafy green like chard or collards (remove the stalk and blanch the whole leaf first), or simply baking it on a bed of spinach. This is an opportunity to use whatever you have. Here are a few more stuffed vegetable filling ideas to try…

  1. Mexican: ground beef + farmers cheese or queso + black beans (top with tomatoes, fresh salsa, guacamole, etc.)
  2. Italian: ground lamb or turkey (or, use leftover Lamb and Tofu Meatballs) + feta cheese + chickpeas + Italian herbs
  3. South African: shredded or ground beef + mozzarella + sweet potatoes (alternative slow carb for phase 2)
  4. Indian: Firm tofu + paneer + chickpeas (or leftover Chana Masala) + Indian spices
  5. Peruvian: Shrimp (or fish of choice) + corn + feta cheese + lime juice + olive oil

My stuffed peppers are just one example of what you can make with the bits and scraps that are in your fridge. I could’ve also prepared a meat-based stir fry, taco stuffing, or a stew.

CHALLENGE: Take a look in your fridge and see what you can come up with to make a meal. Comment your creation below, or post a picture in our Facebook Group. We always love to see what you’ve been cooking.

BONUS: Chef Kenzie is hosting a “Leftovers Interactive” class on June 29th. In this class, YOU get to ask your questions, bring your leftovers, and brainstorm ideas to use them in your next meals. Work with Chef Kenzie to brainstorm how to use your leftovers in delicious ways to make balanced, quick-and-easy, and budget-friendly meals. Register HERE!

Want to Learn the Basics of Cooking with Leftovers?

Check out our online Basic Using Leftovers class with Chef Kenzie Osborne. This class is a one-hour session with a 30-minute question period. Upon purchase, you will immediately receive a specialized one-week meal plan, prep list, and additional resources prepared by Chef Dawn Ludwig and Chef Kenzie Osborne.

Using Leftovers - Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers Using Leftovers

Leftovers are so flavorful - and can be the perfect solution to preparing quick-and-easy, budget-friendly meals. Adapt this recipe to use the ingredients in your fridge!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 ¼ lbs ground turkey (15% fat - or alternative protein of your choice)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • Dash of cayenne, optional
  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • ¾ cup cooked chickpeas (or bean of choice)
  • 2 cups spinach, packed, chopped
  • 1 red onion, small
  • ½ cup corn kernels, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the seeds.
  • Arrange in a 9x9 baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients.
  • Distribute the turkey filling evenly among the peppers.
  • Put the pepper top back on top of the pepper (covering the turkey filling)
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until your protein is fully cooked through.


Nutrition (Per Stuffed Pepper)

Fat: 32g
Carbohydrates: 24g
Protein: 39g
Calories: 530

Nutrition (Full Meal)

Pair each serving with 1/2 cup berries for dessert.
Fat: 49%
Carbohydrates: 24%
Protein: 27%
Calories: 580
Keyword One Pan, Phase 1, Phase 2, Quick and Easy

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