Leftovers are the uneaten edible remains of a meal after everyone has finished eating. Food scraps that are not directly edible are not regarded as leftovers, but rather as waste.
No one sets out to make leftovers, but we find that we almost always have them. From the piece of chicken you brought back from dinner at some restaurant the other day, to the jollof rice remaining after all the guest have gone; or even the pepper soup that was too spicy. At some point, you have to deal with food that you would rather just not eat any more.
Truth be told, leftovers can be unappealing (no one wants to eat the same thing two to three times in a row!), and sometimes you just do not know what to do with them. However, for some reason (be it moral, environmental, social or financial), there is always a form of justification for choosing to be smart about food rather than wasting it. If you have already gone through the trouble to create a meal or purchase it, you might as well enjoy it until it’s gone! No?
If you tend to make more food than you need, or for some reason you almost always have to deal with food that no one wants anymore, rather than opt for the bin, you may just find that there are some creative and exciting ways to use that leftover that you probably never thought of.
Here are a few ideas on how you can turn one meal into several different exciting meal ideas.
Store leftovers smartly
The first thing that comes to mind when you have leftovers is to store them. But here’s a thing, most times we do not store them properly or we leave/forget them in the fridge for way too long, and we must throw them out anyway. There is never an excuse for wasting food. To ensure that you can use leftovers, you must get smart and creative about the way you store them. Freezing for a later date usually is the best option, as it literally becomes a pre-made freezer meal that you don’t even have to go through extra effort to make. But then, some leftover will not do well with freezing, such as breads, certain yams e.t.c . For those, you want to store them in the fridge and use them up as soon as you can. For all leftovers stored, it is important you label them or store them in see-through containers (glass storage containers or clear bags) that way you’re less likely to lose track of the leftovers.
Think “ingredients,” not “leftovers.”
Believe it or not, every food has a purpose-and a repurpose. Rather than waste the leftover, you can use it as an ingredient to recreate another meal.
There are so many recipes that you can make by adding leftovers to new fresh meals. You can use leftover tomatoes stew as the base sauce for jollof rice; you can use leftover turkey for salad, or you can even make a vegetable sandwich with leftover coleslaw or salad and more. The steamed, roasted or grilled vegetables that you served as a side dish can be used for stir fry another day! Use bits and pieces in new meals. If in doubt, you can always put an egg on it. You can make also sorts of fried cakes from leftover meals with eggs as a binder.
Use your leftovers for lunch
Deciding on what to take to work for lunch, then making it either the night before or the morning before going to work can be a tedious exercise. A good way to take away that stress is to pack your leftovers for lunch! It saves you a great deal of time as you already have a pre-cooked meal waiting that just needs to be warmed up. You do not have to spend time again whipping up a meal nor do you have to wait in a long line to buy lunch at the office. Time is our most valuable currency, and eating leftovers ensures we have more time to do other things we value.
Have a leftover buffet
Who says you cannot make leftovers fun? Have a leftover party, buffet style. This usually works if you have accumulated a lot of leftover over time, or it is just more than one person can eat. It is the easiest way to make use of your left over…as party food. And it’s super easy. You just need to bring pull out all of the leftover items in the fridge set out the leftovers buffet style. Friends invited do not even have to know they are leftovers, they only need to fill up their plates and appease their stomachs. You are the type who cooks a lot or you have a large family, you can make the leftover buffet a monthly or weekly tradition, that way you never have to fret over what to do with your leftovers.
Make compost with your leftovers
Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow and usually food scraps are a great ingredient for making them. Rather than just throw the leftover vegetables or rice or even meat, you can keep them and make good use of them as compost for your plants instead. Any produce that’s past its prime in the fridge can go in, as well.
Feed your pets with leftovers
Imagine how easy it would be to just take a few leftovers and dump them in your pet’s bowl! There is an advantage to feeding your dog whatever leftovers you have on the table: it is convenient. Some veterinarians, however, say you shouldn’t give food scraps or left over to your dog as there is the risk that they won’t get a balanced diet from eating them and some of these foods could be dangerous if eaten. The truth is, if you are careful about what you give your pet from the table or kitchen, leftovers and table scraps can be a harmless addition to your pet’s diet.