Some people love the idea of leftovers and other people balk at the idea of eating the same meal again in a week. Where do you fall? Regardless of where you stand, there are pros and cons of eating leftovers.
Leftovers – Love Them or Leave Them?
I used to be in the NO leftovers camp. There’s no way I could eat the same thing over and over again in the course of a week. We’d throw away all extra food. Now that I look back on it, I cringe at all the wasted food.
Now a days, I’m a rabid, solid believer in leftovers and embrace them with a happy heart. With that being said, I’m much more educated on what works leftover and what doesn’t. I’ve learned more about my own tastes – what I like and what I don’t.
For example, I abhor the idea of reheated chicken or steak or pork. Nope. That’s never going to happen. To me, there’s a weird taste and it literally turns my stomach. My husband on the other hand, has no problem with reheated meat. IF the meat is part of a stew or soup, that’s different and ground meat is fine reheated (like a sloppy joe or even a turkey meatloaf is okay).
Grilled chicken or steak must be eaten cold – so if we have this on the menu one night for dinner, I make sure to cook enough to make big salads later in the week.
Pros and Cons of Leftovers
- Cut down on how much you have to cook. You can either keep enough for another dinner or have lunch for the next day taken care of already.
- Less waste. Finding a way to use up extra food means less you throw away.
- Saves Money. This directly ties into less waste, the less food you throw away, the less money wasted. By eating what you have on hand means less money spent at the store later on and over time these savings can seriously add up.
- You can save an immense amount of time in the kitchen by embracing leftovers. Whether you are not cooking an extra dinner or preparing lunch for the next day, leftovers can help you save time in the kitchen.
- Some foods taste better after they’ve been sitting. So, the tasty meal you had for dinner can actually taste better a day or two later!
- Food taste can change and not for the good. Like I mentioned earlier, reheated meat, to me, tastes awful. The smell, the texture, and the taste are not something I want to experience again.
- Some foods lose their texture, turning soggy if they sit around.
- Some people need more variety and leftovers can start to feel repetitive.
Tips and Tricks to Make Leftovers Work for You
- Add some bright flavors to leftovers by adding fresh herbs to the dish.
- If the dish is a softer casserole, add some texture with green onions or other vegetables on top.
- Extra pasta can be added to a salad or a soup, creating a new dish.
- If you have extra steak or chicken, create a hearty salad for another meal.
- If you have extra shredded meat – you can make enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and sandwiches (bbq or buffalo or…whatever sauce you have on hand).
- Use clear storage containers so you can easily see what you have on hand. It’s easy to forget what’s in the fridge, especially if you can’t see it.
- Dedicate one night to be leftovers and set out things buffet style – kids love being able to choose what they want to eat. We do this on Thursday nights.
- Look at leftovers in a new light – using them for the base of a new meal. Take leftover vegetables or pasta and create a frittata, or make a soup.
- Clean out your refrigerator consistently. I do this on Thursday nights as this is our buffet leftover night. So, I pull out anything that can work for dinner and throw out everything that doesn’t get eaten. I check all produce, tossing anything that has gone bad.
I talk a lot more about leftovers – how to use them, the best food items for leftover, and quite a lot on food safety in my ebook, Meal Prep Made Easy (click here for purchase link).