Many people shun leftovers. They have unfriendly memories of eating leftovers as a child or they haven’t found success storing and hate reheating them. With the right tips and approach, you can do more with leftover recipes.
- Store leftovers properly. This step affects your leftover recipes and their potential more than any other step. Many people simply place the container the food was cooked in, inside the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. Too much moisture ruins food. Place all leftovers in an airtight container. Make sure the food has a bit of room inside the container – don’t over stuff.
Additionally, it’s important to know how long the leftovers have been inside your refrigerator. Two to four days is a general food safety rule of thumb. And if you have any doubt that the food is safe to eat, throw it out. One way to help prevent any guessing games with leftover recipes is to place a label on the storage container. Write down what the leftover is and the date that it was prepared.
- Plan ahead. Integrate leftover recipes into your menu planning. For example, you might make pasta one night and use the leftover pasta in a soup the following night. You might make baked fish one night and use the leftovers as fish tacos the following night. When you’re planning your weekly menu, plan for leftovers by purchasing and cooking more than you need.
For example, let’s say you’re making chicken breasts for dinner. Instead of buying chicken breasts, you can cook a whole chicken. Use the breasts for your dinner tonight and the rest of the chicken for chicken soup, stew, or salad tomorrow night.
- Embrace make-ahead recipes. Make-ahead recipes are wonderful because they can save some serious time during the week. Casseroles are a typical make-ahead recipe and they’re usually great warmed up the next day.
For example, turkey tetrazzini or lasagna are wonderful warmed up and they’re large enough to last a few days. Lasagna can be made from leftover spaghetti sauce or leftover ground beef. Turkey or chicken tetrazzini can be made from leftover chicken or turkey.
Also, consider roasts. Port and beef roasts can be prepared in a crock-pot on the weekend and served in a variety of formats during the week. A pork roast can be served in slices on Monday night and shredded and served on a bun with barbecue sauce the next night.
Leftovers can be a wonderful way to cut your weekly meal prep time. One chicken can potentially become two or three meals and you only have to cook it once. With a little planning and preparation, you can turn leftovers into quick and easy meals.