What to do with all those leftovers?

So, this year may be a little unique! But, let’s pretend you made a Christmas feast for the holidays. Now, you have more than a second meal worth of leftover food. What do you do? Are you one of those people that keeps a bit then throws away most of it? Do you freeze it as is, to have the same meal again sometime? Do you keep it in the fridge and have the same meal again multiple nights in a row until its gone? Or, do you keep it in the fridge until you forget about it and find it growing for garbage night in a couple weeks? OR…do you transform it into a brand new meal? MMM, the Masterpiece Misfit Meal!?

We try to keep part of a shelf in the fridge dedicated for any leftovers that we end up with. We struggle sometimes keeping track of what we ate and when. Sometimes we even struggle to remember what meal we had the night before! Recently we have been keeping a roll of masking tape and a sharpie by the fridge, so that when a container goes into the fridge it is labelled with what is it, and what night of the week we ate it. That way, we no longer find the mystery container deep in the back of the fridge, and have to open it with eyes squinted and nose held out of the smell zone!!

Often, I will intentionally make extra food just so that we can add a meal easily to the freezer. It’s one of the easiest ways to ‘cheat’ with meal planning because it gives your family a second easy dinner whenever you want it. The other thing I try to do with my meal planning is to actually create a plan for the leftovers. If I am making a whole chicken I will typically plan 3 meals around having that chicken. I usually plan the third option from the pantry or freezer in case we end up not having as much chicken leftover. I don’t want to waste any fresh ingredients.

When it comes to a classic turkey dinner, I typically do want the meal at least two times in a row! It’s one of my favourites. But even as a family fav, we still want a bit of variety.

Why not bring new life to those dull leftovers!

Get creative and make a different meal using some of the components. I’m more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of cook. I use a recipe as a guide rather than strict rules. For some it may be more challenging to make something out of leftovers. If you struggle with creativity in the kitchen, hunt it down! You can use Pinterest for finding GREAT recipes; just search for the main ingredient that you have leftover, whether its meat, veg, or another side. You can even become inspired browsing some pins! Just don’t get lost in there like I do…ALL the time!!!

Here’s some more ideas…

Leftover taco meat and toppings from taco Tuesday? Why not make a salad Wednesday!

Leftover rotisserie chicken? Try making chicken alfredo and add some veggies!

Leftover potatoes? Make a fried potato pancake and add a poached egg!

Left over chili? Add some cooked macaroni for a chili mac and cheese!

Leftover turkey dinner and all the fixings? Make a turkey soup, turkey stuffing pot pie, mix cranberry sauce with brie and melt it down (now I am salivating!), roast the veggies and pair them with a hot turkey sandwich. There are almost endless options. AND if you already have the food, why not use it up before it meets the bottom of the garbage can!

Don’t forget to save the turkey carcass and make some bone broth. Add more flavour by saving and adding in the cut ends from your veggies!

Save your fast food leftovers too (if you have any!). Sometimes the kids won’t eat all of their fries, you can take those home and they go great in an egg scramble with some cut up peppers and cheese! Beef up restaurant leftovers by adding new ingredients. Leftover pasta? Add more veggies, or meat to make it serve more people. Leftover pizza? Stick it in the freezer for an easy “freezer pizza” night, cook it in the oven and it will taste like you ordered in again!

There are so many things you can make with your leftovers. Think of it as a new opportunity for cooking, not a left over meal. Why not give your food a second chance!

Have a very Merry Christmas and thanks for coming home!

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