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! You know we are all about shelf cooking in our house, to not only use the food we already have, but to also eat leftovers and turn them into something brand new! However, I know that's not the case for everybody in the world.
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One of the biggest challenges I see Freebs running into with shelf cooking (and groceries in general) is…
FIGURING OUT HOW TO EAT LEFTOVERS
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, eliminate food waste, and save you time in the kitchen! Those are some 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 or 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!
BASIC LEFTOVER REHEATING TIPS
- Microwave them First – The microwave 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, or 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!
Pro Tip: Want more tips for heating up your leftovers to make them hot and tasty? Check out this post over reheating leftovers 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 don't have to serve them the same way you did the first time. Say what?! Yup, it's true. Here's a few tips:
- 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 here!
- To make your leftovers extra tasty, top 'em off with something extra delicious, like cheese!
It's not a difficult as it may sound, so don't overthink it!
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! If you have leftover enchiladas or tacos, make a taco salad. If you have leftover chicken, try a BBQ chicken salad, Cobb salad, or strawberry spinach salad. For real, you can take just about anything, put it on lettuce, and BOOM, you've got a new meal.
- 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! Get even more tips on how to do this in this post over repurposing leftovers on ShelfCooking.com.
GO FORTH AND EAT LEFTOVERS
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 don't have time to make a transformation? Pull ALL the leftovers out and make it a fun family game where each person draws what they're 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!
So there you go, you know how to eat leftovers and actually have them taste good. Now you have no excuse to NOT eat leftovers. Keep your eye on my Shelf Cooking Instagram account to get even more amazing ideas from your fellow Shelf Cookers!
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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.