Loving your leftovers

With a busy family, I just love leftovers. Often overlooked, they are a very precious commodity in your fridge: they save time, reduce waste, and are a source of ready-made meals. This week, I am looking at the various ways you can use leftovers along with different transport and storage options.

Simply doubling up on the quantities of your evening meal ensures that lunch is ready the next day. This may add a few minutes to your prep time but it will save you time and frustration the following day as you can just grab your lunch and go. Buying lunch every day can become quite costly but when you bring food from home, a lunch out with friends or co-workers then becomes something more along the lines of having a treat.

Making sure that your leftovers are visible in your fridge and avoiding pushing them to the back is key to using them up. If you don’t take them for lunch, freeze your leftovers to be used on a lazy, snowy day or any evening when you just don’t feel like cooking. Make sure to freeze them within a few days so they don’t go bad in the fridge. I find that you can freeze just about anything. Once frozen, some foods are not easily recognizable, so make sure to use a label. I have found labels from Staples that dissolve when the containers are washed, so they are ready to use again.

Glass jars that come from the grocery store make great storage containers for leftovers, and they also allow you to see what you have. Jars are also ideal to use in the freezer as it makes stacking containers less of a Jenga game and avoids heavy frozen items falling on your feet when you open the freezer door!

Having a shelf in the freezer to store your meals on keeps life simple, as you know where to look. Glass jars are also ideal to transport your lunch as they seal well, keeping in any sauces and liquids. Glass containers can easily be reheated in the microwave, but don't leave mason jars in for long periods. You can transport just about any meal in a glass jar, even soup. Although, in the winter you may want to take it in a thermos!

ABOVE: This simple broccoli and chicken casserole is a great meal that uses up leftover meat or vegetables.

I find that you can generally stir fry any leftover vegetables together, then add them to some pasta or rice and top it off with a sprinkling of grated cheese. This makes for a quick easy meal. Add leftover cooked meats to a stew, a frittata, or chopped them up and add them to a salad.

Baked casseroles are another great way of using up any leftover vegetables or meats you might have in your fridge. Simply making a white sauce and baking everything in the oven can be the start of a really good meal. This simple broccoli and chicken casserole is an example of how ingredients can easily be swapped out for what is left in your fridge.

Send your nutrition questions to susan@susanalsembach.com

Photo: Ella Olsson, Unsplash