Leftovers 101: Waste Not, Want Not

by · August 27, 2012

Use portions of previous meals as an ingredient in the next evening’s dish when possible.




Coming up with ideas for different, exciting meals is sometimes difficult to do.  We all know that doing so without breaking the pocket book can be really challenging at times, therefore, whenever possible use leftover’s from last night’s meal as an ingredient in tonight’s dinner.

This challenge led me to create the tasty dish – Leftover Chicken FajiTacos – that both my wife and three year old daughter love.  Being picky eaters, any time they give their stamp of approval it feels like a real accomplishment.

Here are a couple of tips to help you get started using last night’s leftovers in today’s dinner:

  • Plan ahead.  While occasionally you will find that “happy accidents” occur, they are more of an exception than a norm.  As you plan your menu for the week, think about how meals are related.  Maybe you are fixing two ethnic dishes during the week.  If they are from the same ethnic background, plan on having them back to back.  This avoids the possibility of your left overs going bad.
  • Save your leftovers, even the smallest of amounts.  My FajiTacos use a single tablespoon of prepared ground chicken each.  Even a quarter of a pound of left over chicken from the night before can provide enough for tonight’s meal in most cases.
  • Become friends with storage containers.  Well, not really friends; you don’t need to be on a first name basis.  But invest in food storage containers.  Speaking of containers, make sure yours have snap on lids that fit tightly and are available in a variety of sizes.
  • Keep the fridge organized.  Don’t push your containers of leftovers to the back of the fridge.  As you store your leftovers, label and date them, just in case the next day arrives and you aren’t quite sure what you were thinking the previous night.

With these simple tips you can expand your menu while saving money – two things any responsible cook can brag about.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments!

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