This morning I mixed leftover quinoa, leftover cheese sauce from Instant Mac n’ Cheese Without the Box and some frozen peas for my son’s lunch. He said, “Yay!”
I love it when he says that.
Where would I be without leftovers? I can answer that. I’d be standing in line at the hospital cafeteria waiting to pay too much for food that is not very good or very healthy. So I bring leftovers to work. Now I know some of you are thinking, “What leftovers? My family eats almost all of whatever I cook! There are no leftovers!” Clearly you are not plagued by an inadequacy complex that compels you to prepare enough food for the hordes that might drop in without warning. And I’m glad if you are not saddled with that particular compulsion. This leaves you able to use your own free will and choose to make more food. More food = more leftovers.
Now, I am not relegating you to eating dry meatloaf every night for 3 days because you made extra. Honest! Make extra of the components of a meal and you can mix and match to create new and exciting (for lunch) meals jiffy quick.
I always make too much of the following:
noodles or pasta
sauces or dressings
meat (when we have it – getting rare lately!)
and even nut butter sandwiches
Like having wonderful things in your fridge with which to make Grand-wiches and Expand-wiches, having all of these leftovers around provides you with the building blocks you need to make meals that do not ‘feel’ like eating boring old leftovers. (They also provide you with the luxury of some dinners that have half the work done already.)
Whenever you saute vegetables; whenever you BUY vegetables, especially when they are on sale, don’t think about one meal. Think about several meals.
Take the following sautes all prepared in the oil of your choice:
Zucchini, eggplant and spinach with garlic, onion and Italian spices en masse.
Allocate some for making pasta sauce by adding diced or crushed tomatoes,
Allocate some to the freezer for another night’s pasta sauce and,
Allocate some to the refrigerator all by it’s lonesome to add to rice, quinoa, pita bread or over salad for lunch.
Peppers (any color or all colors), green beans and onions with salt and pepper.
Allocate some to serve with tempeh or meat that night,
Allocate some to the frig for making an omelette and,
Allocate some to the refrigerator for the same punitive treatment received by the poor zucchini… leftovers for lunchtime (when mixed with grain, wrap, pita or salad).
Leeks, cabbage, salt, pepper and marjoram (go light on the marjoram – a little goes a long way).
Allocate some to serve as a side dish for dinner,
Put some in the freezer to use in a casserole or bean dish, and
Of course, relegate some to the lunchtime penal colony on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
Peppers, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and onions with cumin and chili pepper.
Allocate some as the basis for your chili – be it with veggies, meat or a soy product
Freeze some for chili or enchiladas another night and,
Place some in the lunchtime section awaiting mixage with frozen corn or rice or tortilla chips.
Spring onions, broccoli, snap peas, sliced carrots, and peanuts with garlic, soy sauce (or Bragg’s) and white pepper.
Some for the stir-fry,
some for leftover stir-fry – make a bunch and as you clean up, plop some straight into lunch sized containers, and if there’s any more left,
Squeeze it onto that luscious layer of lunch fixin’ containers on the bottom shelf.
The list goes on and on for mixes and of course you can change, substitute, and mangle these ideas to your heart’s content! One of my son’s favorite lunches is leftover peas, leftover noodles and leftover chicken cut into pieces. It really does not take any longer to prepare than a sandwich and there’s something green in it : )
So whether I am making Grand-wiches and Expand-wiches, or a Bountiful Bowl from the Bottom Shelf(I know – this is getting out of hand…) I have a variety of items in my fridge that can be cross bred into brand new dishes which will nourish me and my family for a reasonable price.
There were some gorgeous beets at the store today so I sauteed up the beets with garlic and lemon juice, along with some carrots. Towards the end I added some chopped apple and the beet greens. My son loved it. Served it with rice and hemp seed and some raw red pepper. The leftovers will be delicious mixed in with some salad and or whatever grain is hanging out in the luscious layer!