One of my favourite tips for eating well when time poor is cooking a lot of food at once, and making the most of the leftover food for several more meals. However, most of us don’t want to eat the same meal three times in a row, as it just gets boring! The family starts complaining “Are we having leftovers…again?”, and the pressure is on to cook something new. There are several ways of getting around this though. My favourite tips for creating new meals with leftover food in just minutes are featured in this series ‘Loving Leftovers’, starting with The Basics of Lovin’ Leftovers. This is one I like to call Same Food, New Dish.
Start with Transforming Leftover Vegetables to New Dishes
Last night you made baked potatoes or sweet potatoes in the oven, but you are not a big fan of eating cold baked potato in your packed lunch.
So you take Same Food: baked potato or sweet potato, and make a New Dish: potato salad
– Simply chop up the leftover baked potato and put into a big bowl.
– Then do the same with things like red onions, green onions, fresh herbs, dried herbs, and even any raw or leftover cooked veggies you may have on hand like chopped capsicum (bell pepper), green beans, or peas. Avocado is delicious here too!
– If you have leftover bacon, chicken, ham, or hard-boiled eggs, simply chop and add to the bowl to make a complete meal of your potato salad.
– Lastly, simply toss with a homemade dressing of olive oil, choice of vinegar, and mustard if you like, plus sea salt, pepper and fresh herbs if you have some on hand.
Like most leftover creations, this dish comes out different every time you make it, depending on what leftovers you have to throw in and how much time you have to add more ingredients. Thus you keep your taste buds and your family happy with variety, without the time-consuming venture of a new recipe and new ingredients.
Other leftover vegetable ideas:
Same Food: baked sweet potato/potato/pumpkin. New Dish: mashed potato or pumpkin
– Chop up leftover sweet potato, potato or pumpkin and put into a pot on the stove.
– Over warm to medium heat, add in things like butter, raw milk or cream, homemade stock, green onions, smashed garlic, spices, herbs. Mash up and stir together.
Again, you can make this different every time. One night you can add heaps of ingredients and gourmet it up, and another night if you’re shorter on time, just mash with butter and salt.
Same Food: roasted or steamed cauliflower. New Dish: cauliflower mash or cauliflower rice.
– Same as mash potato but mash cauliflower is especially good with butter, ground cumin and caraway seeds plus a sprinkle of fresh parsley or coriander.
– The only difference between cauliflower mash and cauliflower rice is how smooth the texture is. Use a hand masher or food processor for desired consistency.
– Easy Leftovers Omelette Recipe
– Egg Muffins Recipe
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Leftover Meats are Quickly Changed to a Different Dish
Just like with vegetables, the easiest way to transform your leftover meats is to add something to it and maybe chop it differently.
Same Food: leftover chicken fillets
New Dish: chicken parmigiana
– Put leftover chicken breasts or thighs on oven tray.
– Top with a layer of tomato paste or homemade pasta sauce, then herbs and spices, then grated Raw Parmesan cheese.
– Heat in a toaster oven or under oven grill until the meat is warm and the cheese is melted.
Leftover meats simply need a new paste or sauce.
*Yesterday’s grilled pork cutlets are transformed by topping with a simple apple and red onion chutney made by sauteeing the two ingredients in a fry-pan with water and cinnamon for about 10 minutes until apples and onion are soft.
*Yesterday’s grilled rump steak is made anew when topped with a herb and vinaigrette (oil and vinegar) sauce bashed up in your mortar and pestle in 4 minutes.
*Other easy sauces to throw in a pan with leftover meat are tomato based sauces and curry or asian sauces.
– If you’re pressed for time, simply dice the leftover meat and toss in a fry pan with a spoonful of tomato paste, some tomato puree, plus garlic, onion, herbs and spices as you like.
– For an Asian flavour, simply saute diced meat with a good quality curry paste (or asian spices and fresh grated ginger) and maybe some coconut cream.
– If you have time and are feeling creative, Google an easy sauce recipe.
– Roll Your Own Sushi…with Leftovers
Transforming Leftover One-Pot Meals
Same Food: one-pot bolognaise or meat chilli.
New Dish: bolognaise or meat chilli stuffed capsicum (bell peppers) or tomatoes
– Cut tops off capsicum (bell peppers) or tomatoes and clean out seeds and membranes, fill with bolognaise and heat in oven.
– When almost done, melt grated raw parmesan cheese on top (optional).
Capsicum works best if lightly grilled or blanched in boiling water before filling. This New Dish works for most types of one-pot meal like curries and stews, and it looks impressive.
By using my Loving Leftovers trick of Same Food, New Dish, you will spend less time cooking but still have the same amount of high-quality meals. With just a bit of fore-thought, you can plan your bigger cooking days around your personal schedule, so that on quieter days you are cooking and on busy days, you are eating leftovers. Just ensure that you always cook large quantities the first day, so you have leftovers to manipulate into your new dish creations tomorrow. When anticipating a very hectic day, you can whip up your new dishes the night before so you have a nutritious and delicious breakfast, packed lunch and easy dinner on hand. The rest of the family will think you were cooking all day instead of serving leftover food!
What is one of your favourite same food, new dish creations to serve in your home?