To “Leftovers” or Not to “Leftovers”: That Is the Question

Because food really is my love language, I talk with many people about cooking. Do you enjoy cooking? Do you use recipes? What is your favorite type of food? and What is your stance on leftovers? While that last question actually seems to offend some (they don’t do leftovers!), leftovers are a staple for us. I believe, no, I know Flora feels the same. There are so many possibilities with leftovers!

I am wife to one, mother to seven plus their spouses/significant others, and “Mamaw” to five. We ARE an army! I have always cooked in bulk and planned my meals with leftovers in mind: how much do we want to have and what do we intend to do with them? The fact is that my household eats on their own schedule while I am at work, so it is great to have food ready for them to simply heat up if they don’t feel like cooking and they are sick of Ramen. (Yes, I said Ramen. Why is that a teenager’s go-to???)

So what do I do with leftovers? Some leftovers lend themselves to repurposing. For example, there was the Peach-Whiskey Chicken we cooked this past weekend. There were several pieces of chicken left, and I knew they would disappear quickly, but there was also a goodly amount of sauce left over. The sauce is rich and sweet, so I thought a great repurposing would be to cook some sausages (Li’l Beef Smokies or Andouille) and add the sauce to them to get that lovely sweet-salt interaction. I fixed this meal with the smokies, rice, and a side of broccoli and it did not disappoint!

Sometimes leftovers lend themselves to just being eaten as they are. Leftover hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, pasta, casseroles, etc are all great to either reheat or eat straight from the fridge.

Then there is the “soup bucket.” Left over vegetables, meats, tomato sauces, gravies, whatever, can be layered into a freezer-safe container or bag and stored in the freezer (I add to it meal by meal), then used all together to make what my mom always called, “Kitchen Sink Soup.” She called it that because it has everything but the kitchen sink in it. It’s the soup that warms your soul on a cold day, a wonderful comfort soup. I limit the contents of the bucket to the foods I know my kids will eat in soup, of course, but it can be a life saver! Throw the whole thing in the crock pot or the pressure cooker or in a big pot on the stove, along with whatever else you may want in the soup, and just let it simmer. Kitchen Sink Soup, I love you!

The moral of the story is this: don’t fear leftovers. Of course, don’t keep them if you’re not going to use them. Nobody wants dishes that come when called living in their fridge. But don’t be afraid to do some intentional leftovers! They are money- and time-saving, and some of my very best creations have come from leftovers.