Friday, October 12, 2012

Leftovers is NOT a Dirty Word!

Back in April, I got on a rant about food waste and promised (or threatened, depending on how you look at it) to elaborate, but never quite got back to it. One tip in that post was to make use of all of your leftovers. Just like your fabric scraps cost the same $9-$10 a yard that the uncut yardage in your stash did, the leftovers in your fridge were once fresh groceries for which you paid your hard-earned money.

My sewing friend Lois mentioned once that her son-in-law "doesn't eat leftovers". I can't imagine anyone being so spoiled that they wouldn't eat leftovers. Dr. Phil wasn't on TV when I was dating, but he has said on his show that it's OK to have a list of a few traits that would be deal-breakers for you when choosing a mate. A sports nut, maybe I could handle. A smoker would only be allowed to smoke outside. A tobacco chewer would probably get on the no-list. But the guy who refused to eat leftovers would definitely not have been husband material for me (and wouldn't have wanted to be, I'm sure)!

Many nights in my house, if you don't eat leftovers, you don't eat! But no one minds, and I'm convinced that it helps us keep our grocery budget reasonable. In fact, I'm one of those people who plans leftovers. Last night's dinner almost finished up our pot of homemade clam chowder, so I scheduled one of my "cooking nights". That's when I put on some music and my apron and spend a few hours preparing several dishes to serve over the next few days. Here's what I made (all these items last several days in the fridge, if stored properly):

  • Parmesan couscous from a boxed mix for Mabz to take in her lunch today and tomorrow, since her new braces made her teeth sore.
  • A delicious stir-fry full of colorful veggies:

My sister shared a great stir-fry recipe with me once, which I have used for years. For this one, I used my new, original, top-secret stir-fry recipe, which is much easier and tastes even better! Since you're such good friends, I'll let you in on my "secret".

Buy two 56-ounce bags of Birds Eye stir fry mix- one Thai and one Oriental (because there are slightly different veggies in each, and different sauces). Pour half of each bag into a stir-fry pan and prepare as directed. Choose one of the sauces (I used the soy-ginger from the Thai bag) and add it in. Fabulous!
  • A big pot of rice for the stir-fry and other uses throughout the week.
All this gets placed in the fridge in clear glass storage containers with plastic lids. I don't mark them with dates because I don't seem to have a problem remembering when they were prepared. But it's probably advisable to do that just to be safe.

Now, for this planned leftovers concept to work for you, it's not enough just to prepare the dishes. You have to make sure that your family actually ends up eating what you have stuck in the fridge.

We have dinner rules, one of which is that we all eat together at the kitchen table every night. However, we are not required to all be eating the same thing, and often don't. Tonight, I ate stir-fry while Steve and Mabz had mac & cheese. Sometimes, all three of us may be eating something different. Other nights, I prepare something fresh that we all like. Sometimes, one night's main dish becomes the next night's side dish Sometimes it becomes the next day's lunch. You just have to keep an eye on what's in the fridge, and make sure it gets eaten before it spoils.

My hair-stylist prepares a fresh, interesting, and often elaborate meal every night for his elderly mother and himself. I asked if they ever have leftovers. He said, "Always, and I always put them in a container in the fridge, but we never eat them." If this is you, think about making good use of your leftovers. You work hard to buy food, and to prepare it. Don't throw away your money!

If planned leftovers aren't really your style, I found a meal-planning strategy on a quilting friend's blog that I plan to share with you. I've done a lot of research on meal planning, and tried lots of different methods, but Katherine's is so unique, yet so simple...  Stay tuned for those links in my next post.

Do you and your family like leftovers? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for reading! Your thoughts are important to me because I am writing for you.