Today I’m talking about leftover food and what to do with it.
Many people don’t like leftover food to which I reply why ever not?
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I love leftovers.
Sometimes I forget I have leftovers from dinner the night before and when I look in the fridge to get something to eat for lunch I’m so excited to see that food is already made for me.
I didn’t have to cook! Thank you Stephanie from the Past for making enough food for yourself to eat today.
The benefits of leftovers.
Let’s take a look at the other benefits of leftovers:
- You save lots of money because you won’t have to buy lunch.
- You can eat leftovers for dinner the next night which means you don’t have to cook — yahoo!
- You won’t waste the perfectly good food that you have in the fridge.
- You’ll be eating home-cooked, real food and not a burger and fries from that weird corner burger joint that hasn’t changed its gross cooking oil in a year (it happens more than you might think).
- You don’t have to leave the office in -100 degree weather to get lunch.
What to do with leftovers.
I know many people don’t like leftovers because they don’t like eating the same thing more than once.
But I encourage you to put on your creativity hat and make leftovers fun.
The first thing to consider is how long leftovers last in the fridge.
It depends on the food:
- Chicken: about 4 days max
- Grains like quinoa, rice, and oats: 6 days max (it will start to get a bit slimy after that)
- Beans and lentils: 3-5 days
- Pasta: 3-4 days
- Veggies: 2-3 days (again it depends on the veg)
One thing to note is that you can freeze a lot of food. Some of the textures of the vegetables might change, but if you feel that you have a significant amount of food that you know you’re not going to eat right away, then freeze it for another time.
Eat leftovers for lunch.
Going out for lunch is fun; don’t get me wrong. but it can be expensive and you don’t always know the quality of the ingredients in your meal.
When you bring leftovers to work for lunch, you’re eating real food that you made with your own hands (or your partner’s hands).
It will (hopefully) be made with whole foods that are full of nutrients, and you’ll have a better chance of feeling great, not bloated, and tired when you get back to work.
Personally, I like to make one or two extra servings of dinner each night so I can eat the same thing the next day for lunch. The ideal situation is that I can put the leftovers in a glass container that holds the perfect amount for lunch. Just heat and serve.
Tacos are the perfect way to use up leftover food.
If you’re anything like me, you save the smallest amounts of random food to use for later because you don’t want to waste it. Put that random bit of food in a taco shell with leftover chicken and/or lentils, along with some greens and salsa and you’ll have a yummy dinner or lunch.
Combine leftovers together.
Yesterday I had lunch full of random little bits: I had leftover tomato lentil soup, a bit of leftover penne, and some crushed tomatoes that were leftover from making the lentil soup. I put them together in a pot, added some frozen spinach and I had a warm and cozy lunch!
If you have leftover chicken, but nothing else, slice it, add some greens and other veggies and have a chicken salad.
If you have leftover rice or quinoa, you can freeze it to use another time or add it to your tacos. Fry it up with some green onions and other veggies for a pilaf or fried rice dish or warm it up and throw a couple of eggs on it.
Eat leftovers for breakfast.
Truthfully breakfast is my favourite time to eat leftovers.
I’ll eat most dinner leftovers for breakfast and throw a couple of eggs on it.
The other week I had leftover butternut squash curry and quinoa for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs on top. So delicious and filling for the whole morning!
I love savoury things for breakfast, though–you might be into something a bit sweeter.
My whole point is to try to be creative with leftover food so that you don’t have to throw it away. You don’t have to have the exact same thing the next day.
Separate the leftovers so you can eat them with something else later in the week.
Give leftovers a chance!
Photo by Edgar Castrejon