Many people just don’t know what to do with leftovers. After finishing a dinner consisting of roast chicken, potatoes and salad, the family may look at what’s left on the table – one chicken thigh, a few grams of lettuce and some potatoes – and see no way to serve it again. So, instead of putting everything in the fridge, they decide to throw the leftovers in the trash.
In fact, this food can still be excellent and there are many ways to put it to good use. By thinking outside the box, you can turn these ingredients into a meal for one person or use them as ingredients for another meal.
Leftovers for dinner
The easiest way to use leftover food is to eat it for dinner. If it’s the weekend or you’re working from home, it’s easy to heat up a chicken thigh and potatoes, put a salad in a bowl, and sit down to a repeat of the previous night’s dinner. If you don’t want to eat the same thing for two days in a row, just save it for the next day.
If you have to go to work, thoseleftovers can still form the basis of your lunch – put each meal item in a small reusable container to reheat in the microwave.
If you want to switch things up, you can combine leftovers with fresh ingredients to make a new dish, such as a salad or sandwich. You can also cut up a chicken thigh and add it to vegetables to make a hearty chicken salad. Potatoes can be reheated with a little cheese on top to make an appetizer of stuffed baked potatoes.
If you have more leftovers, you can still use them for lunches. You can either give a portion to everyone in the family to take to work or school, or ask one or two people to spread it out over several days. Or – if you don’t want to eat the same thing so many times in a row – you can just put the whole pot in the fridge and reheat it later in the week for a quick second dinner.
Meals from the freezer
If you think you won’t have a chance to finish leftovers within a few days of preparation, you can transfer them to a safe container and store them in the freezer
Bowls with plastic lids are great for freezing because they won’t get stains or scratches from repeated use. What’s more, you can often reheat the contents directly in the container. Regular glass jars also work well for freezing. Their only drawback is that they can break if the contents expand in the freezer. To prevent this, leave extra space at the top of the container and freeze the jars with the lids removed. Once the contents freeze and expand, secure the tops.
Ziploc freezer bags can be used for anything, even liquids such as stew or soup. Simply place the filled bags on some sort of tray to freeze flat. Once they freeze, you can stack them in the freezer. Solid portions of leftovers, such as bread and large pieces of meat, can simply be wrapped in foil, plastic or waxed paper. This type of packaging is nice and compact, so you’re not wasting freezer space
It’s a good idea to label containers of leftovers with the name and freeze date – that way you can eat them while they’re still good. Different types of leftovers keep for anywhere from one to six months. Write the date and contents directly on the container or on a piece of tape attached to the top.
Sometimes, if you have leftovers from several meals in a row, you find yourself with a mixture of different foods stored in the refrigerator. For example, you might have fried meat and rice from Monday, spaghetti and meatballs from Tuesday, ham and potato casserole from Wednesday, and so on.
You can serve leftovers as a buffet for dinner: put all the dishes on the counter and let family members take turns filling their plates with what they like