Leftovers Done Right
Food prep tips can help whether your goal is prevention or
Like it or not, leftovers happen-especially around the holidays.
Maybe the recipe made twice as much as you needed or maybe the
sweet potatoes were passed over in favor of pie, but now you're
confronted with a fridge full of cooked vegetables, side dishes and
turkey, turkey, turkey.
Whether you're anticipating a postholiday surplus or just trying
to avoid waste, it's time to practice culinary conservation. The
same principles that are used in ecology to save the planet can
save your palate from the next-day reheated blahs. Some of the
ideas that follow might take a little forethought or effort … but
doesn't almost everything that's good?
Planning out five or six meals at a time may sound like a lot of
work. But it makes grocery shopping a once-a-week breeze, prevents
overbuying and minimizes last-minute scurrying to figure out what's
Is that too ambitious for you? Start with two or three days'
worth of recipes and take the list to the grocery store. Buy only
the ingredients you need to complete the recipes-no impulse
buys!-and you'll notice how much faster (and less expensive) each
trip is. Work your way up to four, then five or six meals at a
Or browse food magazines and websites for features that do all
the planning for you. Some schedule out a week's worth of meals and
include the grocery list of everything you need to pull it off.
Plan different meals that use the same ingredients in varying
ways. Reserve a few turkey sausages before you grill a bunch for
sandwiches. The next day, decase the meat and roll it into
meatballs, then cook and serve with pasta, or tucked inside a
Does your neighbor bless you with a bounty of zucchini from her
garden every summer?
Day 1: Sauté zucchini in olive oil with grape tomatoes, black
olives and rosemary over medium heat; serve alongside roasted
chicken. (Side dish!)
Day 2: Thinly slice zucchini and bake until tender. Add it to
cooked pasta with ricotta cheese, olive oil and a splash of lemon.
(Vegetarian main dish!)
Day 3: Zucchini bread, anyone? (Snack!)
Sometimes, already-cooked foods actually make the next night's
supper even easier.
- Think beyond turkey sandwiches this Thanksgiving. Use leftover
turkey to make enchiladas, soup, potpies, chili or even BBQ turkey
- Leftover boiled potatoes can be cubed and added to a baked
frittata with bacon and spinach.
- Already-cooked rice means one less pot to worry about when
you're preparing a meat-and-vegetable stir-fry. Or make burritos by
mixing the rice with black beans, shredded cheese and salsa and
wrapping it all in a tortilla.
- Nestle leftover meatballs and spaghetti sauce inside pizza
dough with spinach and mozzarella cheese to make calzones.
Pretty much anything, from curried chicken to holiday ham, can
go inside a wrap or tortilla. Add some mixed greens, shredded
cabbage or thinly chopped vegetables to create a hearty meal.
-By Sam Mittelsteadt