Whenever I hear people say they don't like leftovers, I wonder just how much food they throw out. It's a rare meal around here that doesn't result in leftovers. Sometimes there's enough for lunch and dinner the next day, and sometimes there's just a bite or two left over. In neither case will the leftovers go to waste.
Our budget wouldn't permit such extravagance and I wouldn't permit such a waste of resources. That food took time, energy, and resources to grow, harvest, and ship. It took me time, energy, and resources to pick it up, bring it home, and store it in the refrigerator or the pantry. It took me more time, energy, and resources to prepare it for a meal. And you want me to throw out what I didn't eat? That's insanity!
If you simply can't bear to eat the same food two meals or two days in a row, you have some choices:
- Get over it! The same food won't kill you. It won't kill your kids. Toughen up and eat it.
- Freeze your leftovers in meal-size portions. Pull them out on the day you got home from work late and really don't feel like cooking dinner.
- Make something new with the leftovers. There are cookbooks that specialize in how to create new dishes from leftovers or you could *gasp* use your imagination.
Yeah, I'm kinda mean. Get over it.
Today has been a leftovers kind of day. For breakfast, I had leftover jasmine rice topped with leftover pineapple salsa. For lunch, I grilled eggplant and onion slices, steamed spinach, cut some roasted red peppers (and garlic clove from the jar), and removed the pit from some of my home-cured olives to eat with leftover whole wheat rolls I got two weeks ago and tossed in the freezer.
I was already planning to make frugal soup (aka Stone soup) tonight. After cooking the rice last night, we put clean water in the rice cooker to soak. There is always rice stuck on the bottom; it can be easily removed after soaking and added to soup. We looked at the leftovers from lunch and decided we didn't want to have that for dinner. So, I chopped everything up and put it in with the watery rice bits. To this, I also added the water used to steam the spinach. I've already got a tasty mini-soup started...
I cut up the rest of the rolls, tossed them with a tiny bit of olive oil (scraped from the top of the cured olives after it hardened in the refrigerator) and spices. Those are outside right now toasting in the Tulsi solar oven. I also saved the crumbs from slicing the rolls to use for another recipe. Bread crumbs can be stored in the freezer until enough are saved up for a recipe. If you don't like the heels from your bread, let them dry and crumble them up for bread crumb recipes, too.
If we don't finish off the soup tonight, and don't want soup tomorrow, I may throw it in the blender or food processor. Pureed soup makes a nice base for a sauce. It can be added to a casserole or pasta dish...both of which would be great with toasted bread crumbs on top.
Food waste is a huge problem so there really is no excuse for throwing out leftovers. Want to read more about how to avoid wasting food? Check out what I've written (especially this post), check out Crunchy Chicken's new challenge, and check out Jonathon's blog on the subject.