If you are trying to prepare meals on a budget, leftovers can be a blessing or a curse. Having leftovers can make it much easier to prepare the next meal, but we both know that sometimes leftovers are not looked upon so favorably, especially with the younger crowds. Finding a way to help your family enjoy leftovers can definitely be a challenge. If you’re tired of the groans at your dining room table, you may be ready to try some new methods to make leftovers fun. Here are some of the tricks we’ve tried in our household:
Give leftovers a makeover
The kids won’t necessarily know that the chicken salad they are enjoying in their lunches today started life out as the baked chicken breast you served at dinner last night. Even leftover mashed potatoes can be fun if you fry them into fun little potato cakes. Anytime you can add a little something extra to a leftover item and make it seem like new, you can bet your family will be happy. Another tip – Do not call the dinner “leftovers”.
Let the kids “cook”
If you have little ones who are itching to cook dinner but aren’t quite old enough to be turned loose with the stove, this is a great way to use up leftovers and let them practice. We have a kids “cooking” night. Anything in the refrigerator is fair game, as long as they don’t need the stove or oven. They pillage through the leftovers, heat things up in the microwave, and dress their meals up in festive dishes. Having dinner served to me is a nice treat and it uses up plenty of leftovers.
Just freeze it
When all else fails, your family may just need a short break from a particular leftover before they’re ready to try it again. Maybe you made a casserole and had way too much left after your dinner. Perhaps you baked little muffins for breakfast but didn’t realize you’d end up with forty-eight of them after you finished the recipe. These are both examples of foods that would benefit from being frozen. Then, they are ready to be thawed and served later when you’re ready to eat them again.
Have a buffet night
Sometimes leftovers accumulate in the fridge. You may not have enough of any one thing to feed your entire family a meal, but you probably don’t want to just throw the food out, either. On these occasions, you may create your own mini-buffet on your dining room table. Simply spread the options out on the table and let your family choose the foods that appeal to them. The other night our family’s options for dinner included chili or chicken leftover from the night before. A few family members had chili over baked potatoes. The others opted for chicken salad sandwiches. It was a win all the way around – everyone was fed and my fridge was cleaned out.