Reinventing your leftovers

Has this ever happened to you?

You make dinner and you’ve got leftovers: maybe a few pork chops or pieces of chicken and some leftover veggies. It’s not enough to serve again, as is and who wants to bring a pork chop to work for lunch? Sometimes you have got to think outside the box with your leftovers. Here are a few tips I use to get through those leftovers:

pork chops, chicken or leftover beef: I think stir fry. Slice up that meat, add a ton of veggies and a bit of soy sauce or teriyaki. You might want to add some garlic or ginger (fresh or from the spice rack). Cook up some rice and you’ve got a really quick dinner. You do not need a lot of meat in a stir fry if you have a lot of other things going on. I’ll also use leftover meat in a build-your-own casserole. If I have leftover steak, I usually make beef stroganoff with mushrooms. Add a lot of mushrooms and you really don’t need much meat at all.

meatloaf: There are a few things I do with leftover meatloaf. I will either cube it up and make Shepard’s pie (my recipe is on the recipes page) or I’ll ground it up with my hand blender and use it in spaghetti sauce. Sounds a little strange, I know but it totally works.

hamburgers: sometimes when you have a cookout, you have extra hamburgers. Use them like leftover meatloaf or crumble it up and use for a pizza topping or anything else you might put ground beef in.

mashed potatoes: depending on how much you have, you could make potato pancakes or use to top Shepard’s pie or hamburger pie. You can also use them to thicken cream soups, like potato corn chowder.

leftover veggies: depending on the type of vegetable, there are a ton of different uses. Make a stir fry or fried rice. Use as pizza toppings. Make soup. Add to salads. Use in a casserole, like the build-your-own casserole on the recipe page.

bread: Make your own croutons or bread crumbs. I usually take the bread heels and place them in a plastic bag in the freezer. As I accumulate more, I just keep adding them to the bag. When I need bread crumbs, I take out a few slices and place them in the food processor. You can add herbs if you like or Parmesan cheese. After I grind them up, I like to add a little melted butter or a bit of olive oil so they crisp up really nice on top of whatever dish I’m using them for. I also use bread in my meatballs, instead of bread crumbs. I soak the bread in a bit of milk and then add to my meatball mixture. So good.

stale crackers: crush them up and use them as a topping instead of bread crumbs.

So I hope next time you have leftover bits of food, you’ll think of the possibilities rather than just some boring repeat.