While some people have an aversion to leftovers, my mom dubbed me “The Human Garbage Disposal” because having too much leftover food was never a problem while I was in the house. To this day, I often have leftovers for breakfast and lunch, which not only saves us money but also saves me time and effort during my busy days.
However, not everyone is keen on eating the same meal several times in a row. The good news is that some of the tastiest dishes are based on leftovers. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your leftovers:
1. Practice good food safety and put leftovers away as soon as possible after a meal. Use wide, shallow containers so that they will cool down faster. Consider freezing some leftovers to buy yourself time to use it up before it goes bad.
2. Remember to account for leftovers when planning your meals. Many families enjoy having a leftovers night where everything is pulled out of the fridge, reheated and family members serve themselves.
3. If you are roasting meat or grilling chicken breasts, why not cook just a bit more than you’ll need at the same time and using it for the next evening’s quick dinner? For example, I’ll often roast two chickens at a time so that we have plenty left-over for a make your own sandwich/salad/quesadilla night. Planned leftovers are a great way to ensure that you have an easy dinner on a hectic evening.
4. Fried rice is one of the best and most simple ways to use up small bits of leftover meat and vegetables. Many people prefer to use rice that has been cooled in the fridge for a while, but I cook mine Korean style with fresh rice and often wrap it in an omelet and serve with ketchup and Sriracha hot sauce. Don’t think that fried rice has to have a heavily Asian flavor, either; you can experiment with using different seasonings that you think would compliment your ingredients.
5. I love using leftover pasta and vegetables in a frittata. It seems a bit more fancy to me than a regular casserole and can be served hot or cold with a salad or cup of soup to round things out.
6. My favorite part of St. Patrick’s day is turning the leftover corned beef, cabbage and potatoes into a delicious hash for brunch the next day. Almost any meat can be turned into a hash. For extra deliciousness, top with a fried or poached egg!
7. Many people enjoy making soups and stews from leftovers. Some go as far as to keep a container in the freezer to keep leftover vegetables and meats until they have enough.
8. Leftovers from taco night make excellent nachos the next day.
9. Learn the forgotten art of the croquette. It’s a great way to use up leftover potatoes and I particularly like them made out of leftover fish, since it’s usually not that great reheated on its own.
10. You can stretch saucy leftovers by tossing them with pasta or serving over rice, polenta or bread.
11. If you’re brown bagging it and like variety, as work friends if they’d be interested in a leftovers swap. You get their meatloaf sandwich, they get your baked ziti, everyone is happy and full.
12. Think pie – the pot or shepherd’s kind specifically. These are comfort foods at their finest and can be frozen to provide a quick meal later in the week or month.
13. Curries are a good way to use up leftovers. There are many kinds of curries from India, Thailand, Japan and several other countries that you can experiment with. Many stores sell pre-made pastes or spice blends that make it simple to make your own curries at home without having to buy dozens of new spices.
14. Don’t forget to Google! There’s a good chance that searching for “leftover + your ingredient + recipe” will yield several results from the bizarre to the sublime.
15. If all else fails, invite a hoard of teenagers to your house and invite them to help themselves to the fridge.
What are some of your favorite ways to use leftovers?
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