Most families have rather full schedules. When you have to cook at least three meals a day, it can really feel like you are a slave to your kitchen. That is why leftovers are so appealing. You can knock out two (or three or four) meals with one cooking session.
The problem is that they can get tiring rather quickly, especially if you make large quantities to have plenty of extra. Here are a couple of ways to turn your leftovers into versatile meals, with little to no extra work.
Freeze Leftover Casseroles, Beans and Soups
Most meals that can be reheated well can be frozen well. If you make a double portion of soups, casseroles or beans, the extra can be frozen to be eaten at another time. Freeze in portion sized bags or jars for lunches, large bags or jars for dinners and even ice cube trays for baby!
Find Similar Recipes & Meal Plan Around Them
Frequently, you will see two or three recipes in a cookbook or online that are similar to each other. They might be salads with a different dressing, pastas with different things added or side items like mashed potatoes used in a variety of ways. These pairings can help you turn your leftovers from reheated soup to something new entirely.
For example, one cookbook I use had two recipes- Roasted Root Vegetables and a Roasted Root Vegetable Salad. I can make a double batch of the first recipe as the side dish in the evening, then use the leftovers in the second recipe for lunch the next day. The flavors are different, but all I had to do was add in a few extra ingredients. The bulk of the work was done the night before.
Other favorites are Leftover Oatmeal Muffins and Mashed Potato Pancakes.
Experiment With Your Leftovers
Who says you need a cookbook? Chances are, you have made enough meals to know how some key meals are made. If your leftovers have some basic elements of another dish, play around and see what you can come up with!
My favorite experiment has been our Literal Chili Burgers. We had been eating some leftover chili for a few meals and really wanted something different. My husband decided to reheat it in the skillet, and before you know it, we had veggie burgers made out of flavorful, homemade chili! This is now a leftover meal that we plan in advance, and it never would have happened if not for a bit of thinking outside the box.
Leftovers can either be wasteful and boring or they can be timesaving masterpieces. A bit of planning and creative thinking will have you enjoying that pot of soup for days to come!