6 Tips for Repurposing Leftovers
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The team at Food-Stamps.org understands that families across the country may struggle with balancing a food budget and saving time in the kitchen. Long workdays and income restrictions mean families want to maximize relaxation time and get the most out of their expenses. Although eating leftover food is one resourceful way to save, consuming the same food all week becomes boring and bland. Some families buy specialty ingredients for one dish and are at a loss with what to do with the leftover components. Those households looking to explore their kitchen creativity while saving time and money have the perfect resource in leftover meals like those provided below.
Soups and Stews
Soups and stews are versatile dishes that easily incorporate leftover food in the refrigerator. Soups are especially good for a comforting meal that takes minimal effort. Some soups require short amounts of cook time, just needing long enough to heat all the way through and blend all the flavors of a dish. Some families may choose to invest in a slow cooker for recipes that benefit from long, low heat, as these appliances can simmer safely during working hours or overnight. Leftover foods like rice, pasta, vegetables, beans, meat and sauces are perfect for mixing into broth or stock for an easy and filling meal. Favorite spices and herbs incorporated into this mixture will help elevate the meal to new heights. Also, for a splash of color and fresh flavor in premade or canned soups, utilize similar techniques to enhance the quality and amount of food available. The group at Food-Stamps.org suggests using dried or fresh herbs from your pantry for an experience that is extra flavorful.
For a child-friendly and creative meal, the team at Food-Stamps.org suggests combining leftovers and pizza for a meal that even kids will want to help prepare. Encourage adults and children alike to think outside the box when customizing their pizza slice with leftover ingredients, like chicken parmesan or a vegetable medley. This technique works for any pizza type, whether homemade or store-bought. Another fun treat is a homemade, personal pizza that uses a bagel or tortilla as a crust and incorporates leftovers for a personalized meal. Try to use leftover Alfredo sauce, broccoli and chicken to create a white pizza with a twist.
The sandwich is a lunchtime classic due to its simplicity and ease of preparation. You could choose to substitute the bread, the fillings and the toppings of a sandwich with leftovers. Experiment with different bread types in your pantry, like yesterday morning’s waffles or cinnamon raisin bagels, to add a sweet touch to your savory meal. You could also stick with a savory flavor profile and opt for a leftover hot dog roll instead of sliced bread, or last night’s dinner rolls for mini sandwiches to prevent food waste. Also, do not forget to test out your leftovers as fillings, like thin slices of steak or last night’s pork chop, in lieu of lunchmeat. The team at Food-Stamps.org suggests topping your sandwich fillings with leftover vegetables or salad to round out a nutritious and well-balanced meal.
Although the mornings before school or work are busy, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate the week’s leftovers into the most important meal of the day. Egg dishes, like omelets or scrambled eggs, are excellent opportunities for utilizing leftover meat, cheese and vegetables. Salsa and sour cream from Tuesday night tacos are the perfect addition to scrambled eggs and help prevent unnecessary food waste. Also, you can create a unique breakfast sandwich by combining yesterday’s BLT ingredients with a sunny-side up egg, or Monday night’s burger leftovers with breakfast toppings for a savory start to the day. Furthermore, before you throw out overripe fruit or neglect last night’s fruit-based dessert, freeze it and save it for a smoothie when you are ready to blend it, or add it to your morning meal of oatmeal, cereal or yogurt.
Salads are incredibly versatile, easy-to-prepare and nutritious meals that all families can enjoy. Leafy green salads, pasta salads and other salad varieties are perfect for combining with leftover ingredients and meals. Uneaten bacon and hard-boiled eggs from breakfast are excellent toppers for a salad, and leftover chicken presents the perfect opportunity to make your favorite chicken salad sandwich for lunch. Additionally, uneaten vegetables are healthy mix-ins for a refreshing pasta salad, and leftover meat is a filling addition that transforms a leafy green salad into a satisfying entrée. For anyone with a sweet tooth, cut up leftover fruit for a sweet contrast, or use its juice in a tangy salad dressing.
Mix and Match
The team at Food-Stamps.org encourages households to use their imagination when experimenting with leftover-inspired meals. Pick themes and try to implement those flavors in unusual or unexpected ways, like a Southwestern spaghetti night to utilize the ingredients bought for another night’s meal. Although it is tempting to run out and pick up a missing ingredient, try to substitute a missing ingredient with leftovers from the house to save time.