Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Leftovers Are My Favorite Food Group

My husband said the other day, "Boy, even though we're on a tight budget you sure make a lot of different meals." It was said approvingly and I basked in the glow. The truth is that almost everything we eat has something leftover in it. God bless my big freezer in the garage! I've got everything packed in there just waiting to emerge in a new month, in a new meal. Delicious.

Hubby came from a family of seven kids; the term "leftover" wasn't heard in his home. In fact, some of the kids had fork marks on the backs of their hands where other siblings inadvertently stabbed them while they all reached for the last of something. I came from a home where the green part of the cheese was carefully shaved off so we could eat the rest. We ate everything until it was gone, period. Waste nothing!

When Hubby and I were first married I cooked up a lovely casserole one night. He ate it with relish. The next night he eyed it, but ate it without complaint. The third night he rebelled. I honestly had no idea what the problem was -- food was available, so let's eat. We have since learned to compromise... I cook a meal and we eat it that night. Anything leftover goes into the freezer where it will wait, poised for its debut in a subsequent month.

The other night I pulled out some cooked pot roast chunks that had been frozen late last year. Perfect; Hubby would have forgotten all about it. Photobucket I chopped them up into small chunks, then fished around in the overflow pantry, also in the garage. I found canned tomato chunks, pinto beans and some jalapeno peppers. Excellent.


I drained and rinsed the beans, then tossed everything else in the pan together. I added in some chopped onion and a little crushed garlic (two of my kitchen staples) and let it all bubble together until some of the water evaporated. Photobucket

It was really good served in flour tortillas. Photobucket

I mixed up a little Tapatia sauce with some sour cream to give it a jazzier presentation and taste -- a little squirt of lime would have been good, too, but I didn't have any. Next time!

The pot roast was chewier than I would have liked. I think this would be a great way to prepare leftover chicken or steak, but encourage you to use what you have. Usually I put leftover pot roast into a stew or something with gravy.

Keeping leftovers and re-serving them as a brand-new dish keeps peace in my family as well as $$$ in my pocket. It encourages me to be creative with what I have, which I enjoy. I've discovered that pretty much anything tastes great wrapped in a tortilla topped with some melted shredded cheese.

Here's a great site to help you with some ideas for repurposing your leftovers: Another suggestion is to create a "freezer soup" bag. I use a Hefty freezer bag (gallons size) and put bits of food in it as I have them, chopping as I go. When the bag is filled with that cup or two of leftover rice, the end of a veggie platter and some bits of chicken, it's time to make soup. I put it all as-is into my crockpot with about 6 cups of homemade chicken stock and let it simmer all day. Instant dinner!


  1. Good post. My hubby knows all about those fork marks on hands. lol

    We've had two large freezers in the for the half a beef we got each year, one for all the veggies we put up each summer. I miss friendly giants!

    I need a small, but not too small, freezer. It is such a money saver...time too when you think of all the cooked food you can store for a busy day's supper.

  2. I'd love to get a side of beef. My mom used to do that when I was a girl and it was so convenient (and much less expensive than buying individually). It's just that initial outlay of cash that slows me down, LOL!

  3. Thanks for this post!! I've said it before, I really need to handle unused food better (both leftovers and fresh that I haven't gotten around to using). I need to not let my dislike for plastic bags to overrule my need to use the food I've purchased more wisely.