Leftovers may sound like unwanted old food but moving leftovers from one meal to the next – slowly dwindling the stockpile – is a challenge and an art form in my kitchen. In fact, I don’t think I can imagine a day where I do not use some sort of leftover in a salad, smashed on toast, or beneath a fried egg. Leftovers keep me from wasting food and give me a mental and physical ‘break’ from cooking a whole new meal.
Three tricks I’ve found to help the most in utilizing leftovers is to always make extra, portion out my leftovers into different containers (such as vegetables, grains, beans, or sauces), and have a well stocked pantry full of tools for repurposing old meals into new ones.
COOKING EXTRA VEGETABLES
Prepping vegetables in large batches does take a little more time, but it’s worth it when it answers the ‘what’s for lunch’ question. Roasting up a few pounds seasonal veg gets me through a week of meals. Tandoori cauliflower that went on the side of last nights curry can find a place in today’s tandoori wrap, and maybe even tomorrow’s breakfast hash. At the end of the week, mismatched vegetable leftovers can get tossed in a salad, grain bowl, or a wrap.
Most whole grains and legumes take some time to prepare. Doubling or even tripling what a recipe calls for saves time in the future – and excess grains and legumes do well for a week at a time in the refrigerator or for months in the freezer. I may cook up an extra cup of plain quinoa and use it for breakfast porridge or even fritters later on down the week.
PORTIONING OUT LEFTOVERS
While it wont work for all situations, portioning out leftovers from a meal into individual components can help make future meals more manageable and appetizing. Keeping the sauce separate is critical – if your making fritters only sauce what you plan to eat immediately. The same goes for most salads – dress only what you plan to eat right then. Grain and noodle based salads are generally fine, and even tastier, when dressed multiple times. Avoid mixing all your leftovers together and you’ll end up with components instead of a soggy pish-posh of food.
Beet Salad with Broiled Feta and Sesame Sunflower Seeds
Kale Bulgur Fritters with Garlic Yogurt
Brown Rice Carrot Fritters with Chipotle Sunflower Sauce
Roasted Carrot Multigrain Pilaf with Pepita Pesto
Cauliflower Cakes with Brown Rice and Cheddar
Any leftover can be brought back to life with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, some good quality olive or nut oil and a nice ceramic plate to put it all on. Check out my pantry staples- for ideas on how to breathe life into your leftovers.