When I was in high school I spent a lot of time at my then boyfriends house. Many nights after school were spent eating dinner with him and his family. They sat down to dinner together every single night. This was something I hadn't gotten to experience most of my life. My parents had opposite schedules and we rarely had a chance to eat together, except maybe the weekends. I really enjoyed the sense of family oneness and love that eating a meal together brought on.
That is what I took in and enjoyed most about those dinners at 16. Now, 18 years later I am admiring his stepmothers resourcefulness. Every Friday was leftover night. She would dig out all the odds and ends leftover from the dinners of that week. Sometimes she would make a meal totally composed from leftovers. Or, she would just set them out as they were. Side of potatoes, might have been made into potato pancakes, random vegetables and meat into a stir fry.
The point is.. nothing was wasted. That is so rare to find even then. We are SO quick to just throw away, or leave food sitting in the fridge until its forgotten and morphed into something else entirely. There are many ways to make the best use of your groceries, and the meals you've prepared with them. Want to initiate your own Leftover Night? Here's how..
KEEP IT SIMPLE
No more overly processed or boxed "foods." Think about it..could you make your hamburger helper into anything other than what it is? No, you cant..
Buy only fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, canned or dried beans in bulk, bulk rice and other grains. They have a long shelf life and you can make just about anything with them. Got leftover rice from last night? Toss it with that bag of frozen peas and carrots and make fried rice.. Got a can of beans kicking around? Make some bean burgers, rice and beans..the possibilities are endless.
I made a salad this weekend for a group of people coming to the house. It was a SIMPLE salad of black beans, yellow and orange peppers, corn, onions and tomato, with a bit of roasted garlic vinaigrette. It's one of my favorite summer salads but I made so much that I couldn't possibly finish it. I was going to make black bean burgers, but it ended up being a bit too liquid-y.. so I made a southwestern "meat" loaf by adding a few spices, and eggs to bind it together. See that? By keeping things simple, I can add to it and make it into something totally different. Nobody would even know they're eating my leftover salad!
PICK THE RIGHT NIGHT
Got a busy night of the week? A night where you just know you aren't going to feel like cooking? Those are the nights to just put the food on the table as it is. Otherwise, I'd pick a Friday. Its the end of the week,everyone is exhausted, and your groceries from the previous week are running out. Hey, I'm just guessing. I haven't yet started my very own Leftover Night, but I plan on starting this week. Just as soon as I finish reading this helpful post. ;-)
DON"T MAKE MORE THAN WHAT IS NEEDED
You won't have any leftovers to throw away if there aren't any at all. We Americans are overeaters. We make too much food, eat too much food and throw away too much food. STOP making too much food. Boom. You're welcome.
Be sure to compost what did not get eaten the second time around. As long as it is not meat, or dairy and is something in it's simplest of forms.
For a bit of inspiration in the kitchen, here is a link for recipes you can make from leftovers (YAY)