Left overs: food remaining uneaten at the end of a meal, especially when saved for later use.
As a kid I use to think left overs were only for poor people. I mean, why else would you eat food you didn’t want the previous day. Why would you want to eat reheated supper as breakfast? Why not have bacon and eggs? The only left overs you wanted the next day for school lunch was when you went out for supper, just to show off a little bit to your friends. Luckily with time I grew a bit wiser and now realize the value of left overs.
Hubby is actually amazing at using left overs. He created a very special meal once, call a Mat special. It was developed in his student days (yes, end of the month desperation, I guess) where he used rice, potato, and mayonnaise to construct a very delicious meal.
As a family we rely heavily on left overs. We hardly make breakfast, except for over a weekend maybe when we want to treat ourselves to something different. And if we don’t have the left overs for breakfast it will end up being lunch the following day.
I use to cook just enough food for a meal, as we fought all left overs should go to the dogs, and that’s just wasting money. But preparing 3 meals a day became too time consuming and often we would end up buying lunch (unhealthy processed food) and spending much more for a meal than what we actually could afford. Luckily we soon realized we had to change our approach to meals and left overs.
Left overs can be so versatile and you can truly repurpose the food in whichever way you want. For example: We love doing rotisserie chicken, especially in the summer. We would normally have plenty of chicken left over and instead of just giving the bones to the dogs, I will keep them and together with the chicken carcass and some veggies, put them in the slow cooker overnight to make chicken broth (Bone broth). If I don’t have enough bones, I will just freeze them until I do have enough. We generally eat the thighs and drumsticks first and the chicken breast always get left behind. We will then use the breast for a creamy chicken pasta with mushrooms and garlic, or even a chicken mayo toasted cauliflower sandwich.
I know you think, chicken left overs are easy, but what about things like steak? Or maybe fish? What about cheese? We love to braai, and 99% of the time we will have left over meat. Braai meat always tastes better the next day, the same with curry! I almost prefer leaving my meat and only eat it the following day. It is so easy to just make a green salad with the left over protein of choice, so you will have no excuse to use it as a quick lunch or even dinner. Left over cheese can be turned into a cheese sauce which can be served with burger, veggies or zoodles. I have a quick and easy guide to repurposing leftovers, all you need to do is be creative, you don’t have to eat the same meal twice.
In our household it is common practice to make banana bread or pancakes with all the overripe bananas, so why can you not do the same with other overripe fruit or vegetables. We eat very little fruit and mainly buy berries (strawberries and blueberries), when they are a bit over ripe all I do is turn them into a berry sauce for pancakes or even ice cream. Overripe tomatoes are perfect for tomato stew which can be used as a base for curries or pizza.
Even restaurants use left overs. Maybe it’s not what we want to hear but it is true. Hubby travelled to Portugal to visit friends. Their parents owned a small corner restaurant and he use to tell hubby how they will use all the left over prawn shells to cook a seafood broth which will be used to make seafood soup. And I have to agree, home-made bone broth adds so much flavour to your food.
I have now changed my approach and rather plan to have left overs, crazy I know. That way I know I will not just have enough food for one meal but also for the following day, which saves on time and effort. In cases where we make stews or curry, I freeze all the left overs for an easy freezer meal on days when I am just too lazy to cook or really pressed for time. This week was a perfect example of how left overs helped hubby while I was traveling for work. He could just quickly reheat a left over freezer meal (coconut chicken) for supper and enjoy a “home cooked” meal with Little M.
So the next time you have some uneaten, left over food, instead of dumping it in the garbage or dog bowls, turn it into your next meal.