I seriously can NOT live without them but I know there are a few of you out there that don't quite cherish leftovers like myself.
The word "leftovers" doesn't always sit well with some folks.
Or, maybe you are totally cool with leftovers but aren't quite maxing out the potential that they have just yet. (I am going to try to fix that.)
If you have any blocks when it comes to leftovers, I understand. I have heard my own family, friends and clients all tell me, "Leftovers don't appeal to me," "My husband won't eat leftovers," or even, "Leftover always go to waste..."
Shake that off.
Leftovers are a busy mom's lifesaver. In fact, to encourage a little mindset shift, every time you pack up some leftovers, I want you to think to yourself, "Look at this lifesaver! This is going to make my life so much easier in the next day or so!"
And then, make a mental note or even jot down on your calendar when you are going to use that bit of pre-made mealtime GOLD!
Many a Sunday evening I actually prepare food I have no intention of serving that same day. It is prepared ahead of time so I have something ready to "heat and eat" later in the week. Besides that, I am a big believer in the "cook once, eat twice" rule. I rarely make just enough for dinner. At a minimum I want at least some leftovers for a lunch, but having enough leftover for a second dinner... well, that is a jackpot.
We live in a society where we seem fine to eat pre-packaged, prepared foods made by someone else possibly 1,000s of miles away but we don't make the most of the already prepared foods made in our own kitchen, with our own ingredients and with the love that only WE can put into the food we cook for our family. If we can make the most of all of the food we prepare and cook we can also reduce waste and save money.
So, let's embrace those awesome leftovers!
I want to share some recipes to help you see the value in those lifesaving leftovers!
When it comes to any whole grains that you are cooking, whether it is rice, quinoa (I know it is really a seed but you use it like a grain, right? Work with me!), millet, or anything else, cook twice as much as you need for the meal immediately ahead of you. Then reserve that second half for later in the week or turn it into a salad right away and store it for the next day.
Here is a delicious recipe you can use with leftover wild rice (although I think it would work just fine with white or brown rice, too!) WILD RICE AND MUSHROOM SALAD. And for quinoa, well, I couldn't pick a favorite from this awesome list. I personally hope to try almost every one of these.
Lentils and other Legumes
Don't skimp when making these either. Cook more than you need because they will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Add leftover lentils or other legumes to your green salads for a protein boost, toss them into the food processor to make hummus or try these easy and nutritious lentil burgers! You can skip ahead a few steps if you are creating these with your leftover lentils!
If you include meat in your diet, THIS is essential! There is nothing easier than tossing 4 or 5 chicken breasts in the crockpot, coated in a little olive oil, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and simply cooked until they can be shredded.
With simple shredded chicken you can create an endless amount of dishes all week long. Add shredded chicken to your salad, make chicken tacos, chicken wraps, chicken quesadillas, anything.
My dear friend, Cheryl Bohonyi of Real Life Wellness has a simple and delicious recipe that goes perfectly with your shredded chicken, Buffalo Chicken Salad! Check this out:
Cheryl's Buffalo Chicken Salad:
Toss 1/4 cup of shredded chicken with hot sauce (not wing sauce) and heat through. Place on a bed of mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers (hot if you can handle it!) corn and anything else you love.
Not a fan of buffalo sauce? Skip the hot sauce and simply use an oil and vinegar dressing instead. So simple!
Oh, and if you like simple and healthy recipes like this one, you might just want to check out Cheryl's new book. 14 Days of Clean Eating! Just saying.
Ok, I know everyone makes chicken and beef in abundance, but this mom always buys too much and cooks too much fish for one meal. This is mostly due to me getting confused during the purchasing process. I find a fish I want, I ask for two or three pieces, I see the person helping me lift it up and think, "Oh, goodness, I could eat that all myself," and then I go ahead and order two times as much.
It is usually once I have it all cooked up that I realize I actually have enough fish to feed my entire neighborhood.
Just grateful to have awesome recipes like this to help me deal with all those fish leftovers!
Real Mom Advice
I asked real moms for the healthy tips they have for making the most out of leftovers, and here are some of the responses I received:
"I cook a big meal on Sunday and then separate the leftovers into multiple containers that I will take for lunch. My goal is to have 4 or 5 small containers full, enough leftovers for the week!"
For the hubby that doesn't like to eat leftovers, Alexis told me.
"I freeze the leftovers and then it is like a whole new meal when we eat it again!"
I will be posting more of the real life advice from amazing moms just like you in our FREE ONLINE COMMUNITY, The Real Moms Collaborative. Be on the lookout for that!