Get excited, you're about to learn how to eat leftovers and actually enjoy them! In order to really become an expert shelf cooker, you have to learn to use your leftovers. It's time to establish a leftovers night!
Freebs! How is the #Shelftember Shelf Cooking challenge coming?? We are head-first into the first full week, and so far y'all have been EXPLODING MY BRAIN on social media! The meals you are making, the creativity I'm seeing, it's incredible. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, see all about Shelf Cooking and the #Shelftember challenge HERE (and learn about the freezer I'm giving away!), then check out the hashtag on social media for major inspo.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Now, onto the meat and potatoes of the day.
One of the biggest challenges I see Freebs running into with shelf cooking (and groceries in general) is…
Boy, are leftovers the Great Debate or what?? There are some households who refuse to eat leftovers. Some who will pretty much only eat leftovers. And some in the middle that are fine with them as long as they taste amazing, but usually end up throwing them out. So many people get sick of eating the same thing for days on end, or they are convinced that food just doesn't taste good after it's been sitting in the fridge or freezer. Want me to let you in on a little secret?
That's true, actually. I totally agree with you. Leftovers can be gross. UNLESS YOU DO LEFTOVERS RIGHT, that is!
Today I'm going to share with you some quick tips to help you learn how to eat leftovers and actually enjoy them!
ESTABLISH A LEFTOVERS NIGHT
First off! We are challenging you right here, right now – to establish a weekly leftovers night. That's right. It might sound a little daunting or disgusting, depending on what your take on leftovers is. You might be wondering why leftovers are so important??
Well, let's break it down. If you're not on top of the leftovers and using them up, you'll end up wasting a whole lot of food. Using up your leftovers will help you save a TON of money and eliminate food waste. Which are both pretty big benefits, if you ask me…
So how do you convince your family, and maybe even yourself, to eat leftovers?
It's time to up your leftover game!
HEAT UP YOUR LEFTOVERS THE RIGHT WAY
If you asked my husband for a weird quirk about me (and boy, I have many), I bet you $10 he'd say it's how OCD I am about the temperature of my food and drinks. If hot food isn't scald-your-mouth-out hot, and cold food/drinks aren't hurt-your-teeth-bash-your-head cold, I'm not interested and will complain. Greatly. So if I can even love leftovers with all my (lovely, unique, amazing, charming…wink wink…) quirks, so can you!
HERE ARE SOME BASIC REHEATING TIPS:
- Microwave first. This baby was created to heat things up! Right?? Use it to get the party started and to make things move quickly. I almost always start here to save time. But for heaven's sake, don't overuse your microwave and don't stop there…
- Toast, broil and boil. After microwaving it to heat it through, top it off for a few minutes in the toaster, on a pan on the stove, or under the oven broiler for a quick minute or two to top it off nicely. It adds a little crunch, browns the crust, stiffens the soggy, toasts the tush, whatever needs to be done. Magic happens with toasting, broiling, or boiling. Well, boiling was mostly tossed into this because I thought it sounded cool… or hot! Just think of nice, boiling hot soup on a cold winter's day. There ya go!
Want more tips for heating up your leftovers to make them hot and tasty, check out this post on ShelfCooking.com!
Now that you've heated it, here's how to take your leftovers up an extra notch or two:
TIPS FOR MAKING LEFTOVERS TASTY
Believe me, you do NOT want to skip out on these steps! Leftovers sometimes get a bad rap, but its okay to be sneaky with them! You dont have to serve them the same way you did the first time. Say what?! We go into so much more detail on HOW to do this HERE!
- Sometimes leftovers get a little bland in the fridge. It's true – accept it and move on. The solution is easy. Add seasonings, spice, or something nice to give a little flavor back to your food!
- Leftovers often dry out a bit so be sure to add moisture like oil, butter, sauce, sour cream, etc. This will not only improve the texture, but also add to the flavor which is what we're going for.
- To make your leftovers extra tasty, top 'em off with something extra delicious, for example cheese!
MAKE LEFTOVERS INTO SOMETHING NEW
This is the biggest tip I have for you. Get creative with your leftovers! The kitchen is a place for experimenting, but if you haven't cooked like this before – it can be a little overwhelming. So here are a few tidbits!
- Loads of plain white rice? Make ham-fried rice, throw it in a soup, make Mexican rice, add it to meatballs or meatloaf, make chicken broccoli rice, etc.
- Toss it on a salad! Enchiladas/tacos, make a taco salad. BBQ chicken salad. Cobb salad. Strawberry spinach salad. For real, you can take just about anything, put it on lettuce, and BOOM.
- Sick of that grilled chicken? Chop it up and make chicken salad sandwiches. Dice it for a soup. Add it to a casserole. Make burritos or enchiladas. Cook chicken stir fry. Make it saucy and put it over rice.
- Leftover hamburgers from a BBQ? Chop up the cooked patties and make hamburger soup, or cheeseburger casserole. Make mini sliders with different toppings so it feels and tastes different.
Get the drift? Take what you have and just repurpose it!
GO EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS
So there you go, you know how to eat leftovers and actually have them taste good. Now you have no excuse for NOT eating leftovers. Again, keep your eye on my Instagram stories (if you have IG!) because it's a straight-up cooking show over there. I show what I'm eating and cooking each day, how I prepare it, and how I make it taste delicious to my VERY picky family.
You might be thinking… well that sounds great! But also pretty darn time consuming. It's alright. Having a boring leftovers night every once in a while won't kill ya! If you dont have time to make a transformation? Pull ALL the leftovers out and make it a fun family game where each person draws what theyre eating from a basket or hat! You could come up with some pretty fun dinner combinations this way…. plus it's a little less boring!
Want some more ideas?
- We've got over 70 ways to repurpose your leftovers!
- Use your leftover meat in these delicious chimichangas.
- Need some dinner ideas? Check out this list of 100 delicious dinners!
- Look over this list of pantry staples that you should keep on hand.
Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, nutritious and budget-friendly meals for your family without slaving away in the kitchen! Basically every parent's dream, right? Join our Shelf Cooking Community today!