Using & Storing Your Leftovers

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Do you find that when you get around to figuring out why the fridge is so crowded that you end up tossing food that should have gotten eaten? It’s wasteful and it hurts your budget.

When you plan your meals for the week (you DO plan your meals don’t you?) figure in use of the leftovers.

For instance…. I used a leftover chicken breast the other day to make chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. This incorporated the use of the leftover chicken, some grapes, celery and an apple. This was a good use of items that I already had on hand that weren’t getting eaten fast enough.

To do one better, I took the chicken bones and cooked them in a pot of water on simmer for a while. This gave me some chicken stock for later use. I also then picked clean the bones of what little meat was left on there and fed that to the dog. (Never give cooked chicken (or turkey) bones to a dog. They can splinter and cause some serious damage.)

sandwich
sandwich

Certain leftovers are better the next day. Lasagna and spaghetti are almost always tastier the next day. It’s because the flavors had time to marry. Suppertime leftovers can be taken for lunch the next day OR repurposed.

For instance…. when there’s leftover spaghetti but not a lot of it, I like to cook a breaded chicken breast filet/tender in the oven, then cut into bite sized pieces and serve over a plate of spaghetti. You may need to add more sauce to cover the chicken. A tasty meal using mostly leftovers.

lasagna
lasagna

Leftover porkloin became a pork based soup for lunch the next day. (If there was a lot of the porkloin left it would have become shredded bbq pork sandwiches instead.) It ‘pays’ to be a good steward of your resources.

Have you ever been a guest in someone’s home for dinner and offered to help put away the leftovers? How was their refrigerator? Did they put away the leftovers properly or were they just ‘stuck in there’ unwrapped and uncovered? It’s enough to make one cringe!

So how do you store leftovers for later use and in a safe manner?

*If the meal had different items be sure to store each one separately. Just because you had green beans with dinner doesn’t mean they store well with the main dish.

*If your main dish was stuffed (stuffed chicken breast, rolled pork…) be sure to remove the stuffing before storing. Pack and store separate.

*Leave air space at the top of the container. Reason being that your leftover might not be completely cooled and the food needs a little bit of ‘wiggle room’ aka airspace for cooling.

*Store leftovers promptly. Don’t leave them on the kitchen counter for hours AND use within a couple days.

*Use containers with securely fitting lids. If storing an entire casserole, or most of one, try using individual serving size storage containers. This will aid in the family actually taking the leftovers with them for a quick/cheap/easy lunch.

Avoid, if you can, plastic containers. Most people will pop their lunch in the microwave. Do you want your family eating out of microwaved plastic?

Think about what you can make out of leftovers. Soups, casseroles, sandwiches. Using your leftovers saves money and uses less resources.