Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Make Leftovers Exciting and Our Weekly Menu

When I was growing up, my mom often used to say, “My favorite part of cooking are leftovers.” My mom is a very good cook, but she doesn’t enjoy cooking as much as tending to her garden, and pretty much every meal she cooked was seen again at least once (and often twice) in the form of leftovers. Leftovers saved time and money. Most times, she switched up the sides or “transformed” leftover pasta into a “pasta frittata” for example.

Leftovers have been “normal” to me, and I have never minded eating them. In fact, I usually eat leftovers from our dinners for lunch the next day, and I love it. The boys in our house are a different story. From an early age, the young adult would say, “What are we having for dinner? NOT LEFTOVERS!!!!” Hubby is okay with leftovers (he better be as I’m the one who cooks 99% of our meals… Smile), but he doesn’t get overly excited over them either…

Over the years, I have learned to make leftovers more interesting. Here are some of the things I do to mix things up:
  • Freeze leftovers and use them later (I just recently started doing this again, and I really like it. Everyone is much more excited about a dish when a little time has passed. In fact, the meal doesn’t seem like leftovers but like a brand new meal!)
  • Make a new, interesting “something” to go with the leftovers (For example, when we have leftover soup, I may make some garlic croutons on the second day. If we have leftover fish, I make all different sides. Sometimes, making a healthy dessert creates enough excitement to let everyone forget that we are eating leftovers.)
  • Change the leftovers so that they (almost) can’t be recognized (For example, use leftover grilled salmon to make salmon burgers, turn leftover roasted veggies into veggie soup, and use leftover chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches.)
Now on to our weekly meals. Last week, I had planned on making Gina’s butternut squash mac & cheese, but I never got around to it. So I’ll be making it this week. The reason I didn’t make the mac & cheese was that we had some leftovers, and hubby and I also went out one night to a lupus fundraiser. We enjoyed some very good beers and a monstrosity of nachos. Not surprisingly, we didn’t finish them, but what we had was more than enough. We haven’t eaten out a lot lately and have really never had nachos for dinner, so I’m okay with it this once…

Meal 1: Gina’s butternut squash mac & cheese & a salad
Meal 2: Tomato soup with Greek yogurt & garlic croutons. Our tomato plants as well as my mother-in-law’s plants are still very good to us! I feel so lucky! Makes up for all the strawberries the squirrels ate…
Meal 3: Grilled halibut and roasted veggies.
Meal 4: Chili (not sure about the sides yet)
Meal 5: Leftovers from earlier in the week. If there aren’t enough, I’ll defrost some soup.

Questions: Do you like leftovers? Yes, as I said above I love leftovers, and I could eat them every day “just as is.” But I have learned to be a bit more creative than that…. What are you most looking forward to eating this week? Everything sounds really good to me. I guess that’s the advantage when you plan the menu! Smile What’s your favorite vegetable at the moment? I still love the last of the tomatoes… They will be gone soooo soon!

Be well,