They are your allies in the fight against food waste and time management.
Nothing beats a great meal made from leftovers. It takes almost no effort, costs nothing, declutters the fridge, and diverts precious food from going to waste. It's a win-win situation all around. If you are less than in love with your leftovers, it's time to change that! Here's some advice on refining your leftover game and making it an integral part of your eating routine.
1. Cook for leftovers.Leftovers should always be the goal because it saves you a ton of work. By doubling or tripling a recipe, you can have another meal and several lunches stashed in your fridge. If you're making a leafy salad, don't put dressing on the whole thing; let each person do that at the table, so you can keep the uneaten salad for lunch the next day.
2. Choose meals that make great leftovers.
Do your meal planning with leftovers in mind. Some foods are better than others when it comes to reheating. Soups, stews, braises, curries, dals, bean burrito filling, chili, roasted vegetables, lentil-rice casseroles, and shepherd's pie all taste delicious a day or two later.
3. Store leftovers in see-through containers.
You don't want leftovers to be forgotten in the back of the fridge. The best way to avoid this is to store food in glass containers or Mason jars. That way, if you see it every time you open the fridge, you'll remember to use it.
4. Incorporate leftovers into other recipes.
If you don't have enough leftovers for a standalone meal, then add them to other food. Add cooked vegetables to an omelet or frittata. Put beans between two tortillas with cheese for a quesadilla. Sprinkle chickpeas, nuts, grated cheese, or chopped hardboiled eggs over a salad. Pretty much anything can go into a soup -- bits of meat, grains, vegetables, legumes, tomatoes -- or just a stock, if all you have is vegetable scraps or bones. If you haven't made a bread pudding before, do it with your next loaf of stale bread. Fried rice is the perfect thing to make with leftovers; use cold rice, add pre-cooked vegetables and any leftover protein you have on hand.
5. Try a savory breakfast.
I'll take a savory breakfast any day over a sweet one, which is why I'm always digging through the fridge to eat whatever's left from the night before. I love frying cold mashed potatoes as a side with eggs, or topping reheated dal or chickpea curry with an egg.
6. Have a leftover buffet.
Once per week, or whenever the fridge is piling up with containers, have 'leftover night.' Put everything out in nice dishes (presentation is everything!) and let the household members choose what they want to finish off. While doing this, Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar recommends setting out lots of condiments:
"We put a pepper grinder, a salt shaker, a bottle of ketchup, a bottle of mustard, and some sriracha sauce out for everyone to use. Condiments and seasonings can really go a long way toward improving the flavor of leftovers, taking something fairly bland and making it quite delicious."
7. Buy a thermos.
Hot leftovers are much more appealing than cold ones, which is why a thermos is a smart investment that will pay for itself in recouped lunch costs within days.