No Longer Dread Leftovers

Monday, March 14, 2016

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” my younger self frequently asked.

“Leftovers.” my mom steadily replied.

Just as leftovers were a staple in my house growing up, they’ve become a staple for my husband and I too just as I’m sure for many of you.

Leftovers are great meals in a hurry. They don’t have to be an accident either. We frequently make leftovers on purpose. We can have some for lunch the next day or do something new with it for dinner the next night. Another option is to make double and freeze it for an easy meal when we know we will be busy.

One way we take leftovers and make something new is to make soup. Leftover chicken? Make chicken noodle, chicken enchilada, or chicken and wild rice soup. Leftover ham? Make split pea soup. Leftover hamburger? Make chili. Then we use the soup or chili for a couple of meals and then freeze the rest. By doing that, we can have a couple of meals for a later time. According to foodsafety.gov, leftovers are good in the fridge for 3-4 days. They are good in the freezer for at least 1-2 months and cooked meat or poultry is good up to 6 months.

LeftoversWhen you are buying groceries, most things are good for 3-5 days in the refrigerator, however meats should be used within the first couple days otherwise freeze them immediately and thaw when needed.

When it comes to leftovers, meal planning and preparation can really come in handy. Take spaghetti for example. The sauce can be used for the spaghetti, but if you make extra, you could make a lasagna or chicken marinara. If the meals for the week need things like onions, peppers, cheese, etc, you could chop and shred what’s needed on the first night so the other nights you already have items prepped.

Leftovers don’t have to a dreaded word in your household. If you need inspiration, Google or Pinterest ideas with what you have in your fridge. As they say, shop your refrigerator and pantry before going out or ordering in! Just don’t get side tracked looking at all the other pretty pictures on Pinterest like I do.


Cassie Kupsky  Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Personal Trainer
Greater Green Bay YMCA