Leftovers are the best things on the plant. Some might agree and others might want to gag, but leftovers are not just a doom sentence to devour the same food you had for the last three nights. Leftovers provide a healthy meal in an instant, or as quickly as they can be heated. They can also prove invaluable in your weekly cooking routine. Using leftovers saves you incredible amounts of money because it either reduces the cost per meal for your weekly tally or can be repurposed in a different dish to save green on your shopping trips.
Leftovers don’t have to be eaten that same week. The easiest way to begin freezer cooking is by doubling your recipes and freezing the other half for another meal. Another thing I love to do is roast a whole chicken (much cheaper) to have as a meal one night, then shred the leftover chicken for enchiladas on another night.
Here are a couple other examples of repurposing leftovers:
Meat – A staple of many households is ground meat. It is a perfect start to practice repurposing leftovers on. A couple pounds of ground beef can be used for hamburgers, then the next day for tacos and finally as an addition to spaghetti sauce or a warm crock pot of chili. Steaks are also great leftovers to utilize for a couple of days. Eaten first as a main dish with mashed potatoes and green beans, cut into strips to top a hearty salad or fajitas and finally cut into chunks for stews or soups.
Holidays – Leftovers during holidays usually surmount into outrageous quantities. If you are getting tired of the same old turkey or ham sandwiches for the following week, try changing it up for breakfast. Combine the mashed potatoes, stuffing and diced meat in a pan creating a little crater for an egg. Pop it all in the oven for ten minutes on 350 degrees and you have a hearty egg in a nest for breakfast. This is a complete meal with your meat, grains and dairy. It’s also not a bad way to start a day off from the turkey hang-over from the night before.
Have fun with your leftovers. Try different combinations and add different spices and see what you can come up with. There are two things to remember when trying out new recipes with your leftovers. Pay attention to the ingredients and not the taste while also, paying attention to the taste and not the ingredients. Confusing? Not really, let’s explain.
Ingredients, not taste
Let’s take the hamburger meat as an example. What ingredients did you put into it for the actual hamburger? Salt, pepper and maybe some Italian seasoning were used. Keep these ingredients in mind when repurposing the hamburger because it may not need more salt in the dish you are trying to create. If there was plenty of salt for the hamburger, cut out the salt in the new recipe and see if that works well. What else? Bread crumbs, ketchup and possibly even some A-1. If you went heavy on the A-1 sauce, this might not work well repurposed as a breakfast casserole. A meatloaf on the other hand might just work. Just remember what you put in to determine what kind of dish you want to reuse the meat in.
Taste, not ingredients
For this example, let’s use the holiday breakfast make-over. One can only assume that since mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey all go together in a meal, that they can all be used together in a single dish. Pretending with your mouth can get you a long way when cooking. If you think it will taste good together, go for it. If not, then you are probably right. Think about how the food will taste together to get a good idea of the expected outcome.
All in all, have fun with your cooking. Repurposing leftovers can be a blast. Have challenges each week to see who can come up with the most interesting dishes from the items eaten the night before. As you cook, just keep tasting to make sure you are on the right track. You will be amazed at how much you can save by repurposing your leftovers into simple, hearty meals the whole family will enjoy.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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