I'm not a fancy cook. I can follow half a recipe but then usually wing the rest. I go with what sounds good and hope it works out. With a family of 5, our schedule isn't always meal time friendly, but I try to make it work. We set a standard in our house a long time ago that we'd eat dinner together as much as humanly possible so we could check in with each other and see how everyone is… every day. Some days we don't eat until after 8 and during baseball season we eat out 3-5 days a week… it's not ideal. But, I've found that planning ahead and counting on leftovers really helps.
This Thursday I am going to participate as a panelist during a Twitter party with Toni Spilsbury sharing thoughts and ideas on meal planning, leftovers and family dinners. It should be loads of fun! You can join in the fun and be eligible to win a $100 grocery card, see below.
For now, I'll share some tips I use to get through the busy schedule of feeding my family.
5 ways to think “YAY LEFTOVERS!”:
- Double the batch
I cook double batches of things that will keep or freeze well. If it's taco night, I'll brown double the hamburger so the next time we have tacos I just heat up the meat and the rest is a breeze. Also, I'll make double batches of things like chili or soups and freeze them for later.
- Plan a cooking day (or half)
Every now and then I will have a good 4 hour stretch of time with nothing pressing scheduled. I'll take this opportunity to cook up a couple different meals that I can freeze for another day. Meatloaf, pre-cooked chicken, cooked veggies, enchiladas and other items that reheat well are perfect for this.
- Cook once but use it twice
Roasts are perfect for cooking once but using in two meals. I'll cook up a chuck roast in the crock pot (how much effort does that take??) and then use it for BBQ sandwiches one night and beef stew another.
- Repurpose and reuse
My favorite is making a double batch of one meal but using half for a whole new meal. Example, I made a pasta with marinara sauce one night and then later in the week threw the left over pasta and sauce into a casserole dish, topped it with slices of yellow squash and zucchini and covered in mozzarella cheese. I baked it for about an hour and OH YUM, a tasty pasta casserole. (See that yummy food above, there you have pasta take two ~woohoo).
- “Make your own dinner” night
I don't allow food to just be thrown out; it's actually a serious peeve of mine. We have no idea how valuable food really is until we aren't sure if we can afford any. If it's edible, it will get saved and hopefully eaten for lunches. Whatever is left gets put to good use on Saturdays – we don't cook and we don't plan dinner. It's a find what you can in the fridge night. We still eat together, but everyone gets to grab from the food stash.
Join me for more meal planning creativity!
I'm participating as a panelist in a Twitter party this Thursday, October 13th from 8-9pm MST with Toni Spilsbury to learn more about her The Organized Cook™ Weekly Meal Plan.
You should join in on the fun with me! Find out more and RSVP
Party guests can be eligible to win prizes including a $100 grocery gift card, subscription to The Organized Cook™ Weekly Meal Plan and copies of The Organized Cook™ Cookbook.
Disclosure: I have been compensated for my participation in this campaign with Toni Spilsbury and The Organized Cook™. However, my opinions and idea sharing are 100% my own.
2 thoughts on “Leftovers are not the enemy”
I am going to have to agree with Rajean here. That leftover looks better than any of my ‘first overs’
I love your ideas and the ‘leftover’ pasta dish looks as good or better than any of my meals. I really like your ‘make your own’ dinner night too. Microwave & toaster oven all the way, baby!