Leftovers make up a significant part of food wastage in many households. Often, the problem is that the leftovers are not enough to reincarnate a meal from them. So, here’s a plan…
Planned-overs instead of leftovers
Leftovers are a fact of life. To win the battle of zero food wastage, why not go for planned-overs instead of leftovers. To do this effectively, plan to double up on the main ingredients. Prepare extra chicken, beef, turkey, pork or fish to save you time later in the week. Once you get to a mindset of cooking once, eating twice, you can look out for specials on your main ingredients, and save not only time but also money. Let me share some ideas, but keep in mind that, although I don’t mention it all the time, use the healthy versions, like low or reduced-fat, wholewheat, low-carb, multi-grain, fat-free, non-fat, low-sodium, etc..
Cooked chicken leftovers
The list of ways to have planned-overs of chicken is endless. Roast an extra chicken, or a larger one, and shred or cube the extra for another day. One option is layering shredded chicken on tortillas or wraps with refried beans, sliced bell peppers, salsa, onion slices, shredded cheese and sour cream.
Make a salad from cubed chicken, dill or sweet pickle, celery and mayonnaise. Fill peppers, tomatoes, honeydew or cantaloupe with the salad. Leave space for a few grapes and chutney or a bit of curry powder for a surprising twist.
Combine frozen vegetables and cubed chicken white sauce or chicken broth with a crust made from refrigerated biscuit dough to make pot pies.
Use cubed beef along with frozen carrot, corn and pea medley and a white sauce or gravy to make a shepherd’s pie. Top it with mash potatoes and a sprinkling of grated cheese.
Turn your beef cubes into a tasty curry or goulash. Add fried onions and a mixture of curry powder, turmeric, ground ginger, chutney or apricot preserve and red wine or wine vinegar and cook the beef cubes in this mixture for a while.
Cooked pork leftovers
Use roast pork leftovers to make pulled pork sandwiches. You can also use pork tenderloin, chops or sausage to make chili. Add diced zucchini, kidney beans, onion and bell pepper rings, garlic, tomatoes, black pepper and chili powder. Serve it with shredded cheese.
Planned-overs of fish are also plenty. Firm-fleshed fish like catfish or salmon makes delicious stuffed burritos or tortillas. Add chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced scallions, shredded lettuce, refried beans, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream and a good squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
Make a fishcake and potato winner. Flake the cooked fish and add green onion, minced celery, bell peppers, a bit of mayonnaise and egg-white to bind your fish cakes when you form them into patties. Use unpeeled baking potatoes and cut them into wedges. Add a light brushing of olive oil, season with salt, dried herbs and black pepper. Lightly oil a baking sheet, and bake the potatoes and the fishcakes until golden brown. You might have to turn the potatoes once or twice.
Cooked turkey leftovers
Shred roasted turkey, slices of turkey sausage for a turkey pizza. Use thawed frozen bread dough and layer turkey meat, celery, sliced onion, mozzarella cheese, black beans and barbecue sauce and bake.
You can also use any version of cooked turkey meat to make a stir-fry. Add oriental vegetables — fresh or frozen, canned mandarin oranges, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Serve the stir-fried turkey on brown rice, lightly garnished with chow mein noodles.
Use cooked turkey to make a Mexican-style soup. Add chicken broth to the turkey meat. Add canned lima beans, corn kernels, crushed tomatoes, garbanzo beans, salsa and chopped spinach. Serve in shallow bowls with a little sour cream, shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
To sum up, avoid food wastage by planned-overs rather than leftovers. Any of the cooked, cubed ingredients can also be frozen for another day. Having already cubed and cooked can be a blessing when you have little time to prepare a meal. I hope these ideas will tempt you to try cooking once and eating twice. Guaranteed to give you more me-time.