Although I am a fan of leftovers others in the house are less excited by the repetition of certain dishes. Being a big fan of not wasting food, and a new fan of Jonathan Bloom's blog Wasted Food I try to look for creative ways to repackage if you will, the offerings at the dinner table.
One way to do this is to take a moment and plan your menu, seeing what can be re-created from what you have already made. Here are a couple of examples of planning meals so that you are using leftovers for the next meal. I should note, by the way, that my favorite method is to turn dinner foods into breakfast foods as it makes food prep in the morning – a typically hectic time – a little easier.
The best and easiest sequential plan is to roast a chicken. Leftovers can be turned into a different dish, such as a pot pie
. And the bones, of course, get turned into a delicious nourishing broth
Making Tuscan Stew
with polenta for dinner typically means there is leftover polenta. I take that polenta, pan fry it, top it with an over easy egg, top that with some homemade mushroom marinara and it becomes breakfast. Since polenta is made with stoneground, or fresh ground, corn meal, it's a delicious way to add some fiber to your morning and help get you off to a good start. Pan frying the polenta gives a nice change to the texture and provides a tasty base to the egg and sauce. And in case you're wondering, the Tuscan Stew by itself is delicious as leftovers and I typically have it for lunch the next day.
One of my favorite dinners is from my Fast Fun Freezer Meals
. It's sauteed sausage, onions, and peppers. The leftovers usually get turned into an omelet in the morning. Adding leftover veggies or dinner dishes into omelets, frittatas, or an egg scramble of some kind is a great way to utilize them. All the prep and cooking is done, which makes breakfast cooking a snap.
For dinnertime leftover usage we can get creative by rummaging through the fridge. Soup and/or chili is a great way to incorporate a lot of little-bit leftovers. Adding fresh sauteed onions, a tasty broth or sauce, and making sure the spice combinations go together well (in the case of soup, curry does not pair well with Italian spice, I'm just saying…) you can hide almost anything. Add in a salad and it's a whole new meal.
Last but not least is the shepherd's pie trick; you can hide almost anything under that crust. Taking your leftovers, combining them with added vegetables, if needed, under a mashed potato or sweet potato crust which is then baked in the oven, you've got a new meal that doesn't take a lot of time, saves money (because you're not throwing out ingredients) and keeps everyone from getting bored with the same old leftovers.
Taking a few minutes to plan your meals will save you time and money while still allowing you to provide delicious and nutritious meals for your family.