For the love of … leftovers

Leftovers have such a bad rap!  But let me just say, I LOVE leftovers for the following reasons –

  1. Budget friendly
  2. Environmentally friendly
  3. Time friendly

There is IMO, nothing better than knowing I can come home after a long, busy, stressful day at work and simply reheat something cooked previously.  Or at the very least, have the base items ready to recycle into something new.  We also often plan ahead and cook double amounts to have as dinner later in the week or freeze for future work lunches – as it sure beats a peanut butter sandwich!  Having the ability to grab a meal out the freezer as you walk out the door, is a huge time saver in the morning.

So now you will be wanting some examples.  Well since you asked so nicely –

  • When cooking rice, cook twice as much rice.  Freeze into lunch portions to take to work with leftover portions of
    Leftover vegetable frittata
    Leftover vegetable frittata

    pasta sauce or curry.

  • When cooking a roast meal, fill those oven trays with veges.  Then make a frittata, omelet or self-crusting quiche – left overs of these also make great lunches!  Roast veges also make great salads, add couscous, quinoa or another grain or pasta, some leafy greens and a dressing.
  • Boiled potatoes are useful leftovers, they can be used in so many ways, as a side for a meal, as above in the frittata, omelet or self-crusting quiche or sliced into 1cm pieces and lightly pan fried.
  • Soup!  This one is a no-brainer.  Often on a weekend in the colder months we will cook a soup for lunch, usually something simple, filling and basic like carrot, potato and lentil.  Served with a bread roll this is a filling and warming mid-winter dinner and takes all of 10 minutes to reheat.
  • Cook a tomato based pasta sauce, serve it over pasta, serve the leftovers with rice and cheese or on nacho chips – change the toppings, you change the meal.

So what happens when you have a very small amount of last nights leftovers, hardy enough for a meal?  Easy, tonight when you are cooking, you cook extra veges to add to last nights leftovers.  Then you have lunch for tomorrow.  Or add a salad and a bread roll.

The advantage to leftovers is obvious for the time poor, but its also a bonus for those on a budget.  Why eat out or get takeaways when you can reheat?  This also saves on your energy bill as its much quicker and therefore cheaper, and more energy conscious, to reheat than cook a full meal.  In most cases, it results in less food wastage by utilising leftovers smartly.  Estimates have around 30% of all food purchased being thrown away – this is criminal when you consider the cost to the environment that food production and processing has!

Leftover roast vegetable Thai inspired curry
Leftover roast vegetable Thai inspired curry

Leftovers are also usually more nutritionally rich, lower calorie and have far less sodium that those takeaway or prepackaged meals too.  Its better for your health, waistline and budget.  Sure takeaways have their place but they should be a treat not a daily event.

I’m realistic, some things don’t freeze and reheat well – potatoes are a good example but curry, pasta sauce and similar meals often taste just as good, if not better the next day.

Its time you started thinking differently about leftovers.  Its simply advanced food prep!



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