Ideas and inspiration to save time (and money) in the kitchen by using leftovers creatively. Planning for leftovers helps to avoid food waste!
You've heard it before, many times lately. We're all in this together. We're staying home, we're avoiding trips to the grocery store and we're doing our best to feed our families wholesome, healthy meals.
While it's comforting to serve our favourite recipes at this challenging time, eating the same thing over and over can get a little boring. We all need some stimulation these days! Why not try a new recipe?
Shopping may not be easy for you right now. There may be food shortages where you live. Online orders may be taking longer to be delivered than usual. It's up to us to figure out how to manage our groceries, and above all to avoid wasting food.
I've included a few ideas that seem to be working for me. I’m sharing the recipes that I’ve made lately and describing how I repurposed them as leftovers. I’d love to hear your ideas, too. Leave me a comment below and let me know how you’re managing in the kitchen and how you’re avoiding wasting food.
I’ve had to substitute ingredients sometimes, but in most recipes, that’s okay. Making substitutions in baked goods, however, can be tricky. Baking is a science and it’s not always possible to substitute one kind of flour for another, for example.
Making lunches and dinners however, is an art! You can let your creativity (and the contents of your fridge or pantry) determine what substitutions will work. And most of them probably will.
Plan uses for your leftovers. Leftovers may not be as appealing as your original dinner, but if you fix them differently the second time around they can still be appetizing.
Cook once, eat twice
One thing I’ve found helpful is to “cook once, eat twice.”
When I’m baking or cooking dinner, I usually double a recipe so we have leftovers, either for the following day or to freeze for another time.
Leftover chicken from a roast chicken dinner on Sunday night can become a second meal of shredded chicken for tacos or chicken salad and a third meal of chicken soup, using the bones and leftover bits of meat to make a rich bone broth.
Using leftovers creatively
Here are a few of the recipes I've made lately with suggestions for using leftovers creatively.
I cooked a double quantity of rice to have with these:
and used that leftover rice to make:
I had salmon in the freezer to make:
Leftover cooked salmon turned into:
A big batch of chili is easy to make,
and can either be frozen for another day, or served on top of baked sweet potatoes the next.
Spice it up! Make this recipe for Caribbean Jerk Chicken one day,
then shred the leftovers and serve it as Jerk Chicken Salad the next.
Saving time in the kitchen
Those are just a few ideas. I'm sure you have your own favourite ways to use leftovers, not only to avoid food waste but to save you time in the kitchen. For example, make a marinade for stir fry,
then double the quantity of meat and marinade and freeze the marinated meat for another day. Then all you have to do is chop your veggies or cook some rice or noodles.
No fresh greens?
If fresh lettuce is hard to find where you live, try long-lasting cabbage instead. It stays fresh for much longer than lettuce. The leaves in a head of cabbage are tightly packed. Less exposure to air means less chance of spoilage, and less chance of waste. Coleslaw will last 3- 4 days in the fridge. Instead of adding dressing all at once, add it just before you serve it.
Baking Recipes: cook once, eat twice
Double the quantity of these Oatmeal Breakfast Bars. Bake in two 8-inch square pans. Add one type of frozen berries to one batch and another type to the second. I've made this recipe non-stop lately with blackberries, blueberries, Saskatoon berries and frozen cherry halves.
I've made a lot of fruit crisp recipes during the past few weeks because they're so easy. Double the quantity of the crumble topping and freeze it for another day so you can make a dessert in just a few minutes.
Homemade muffin and cookie recipes
These are a few of of my favourites!
Inspired? I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for avoiding cooking ruts and using leftovers creatively. Hang in there! Share your ideas, no matter how simple, in the comments section below so we can all benefit.